A view of Umea, Sweden, where a Jewish center has decided to shut down. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Jewish center in Sweden decides to close after anti-Semitic threats


A Jewish center in northern Sweden will close after receiving anti-Semitic threats.

The members of the Judisk Föreningen, or Jewish Association, in Umea, decided Sunday at a meeting to shut down its building and end its activities, The Local-Sweden reported.

The association has received threatening emails, and the building was vandalized with stickers of swastikas and spray-painted threats such as “we know where you live,” The Local reported, citing the Swedish-language SVT News Västerbotten.

“Too many things have happened lately which mean that Jewish parents don’t feel safe having their kids at the schools,” Umea Jewish Association spokeswoman Carinne Sjöberg told SVT. “Our children shouldn’t live in a world where they have to be ashamed for what they are, but it’s not possible to operate if people are scared.”

People take part in an "I am Muslim Too" rally in Times Square on Feb. 19. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

What America needs: Thousands of Jew-haters


One would think that before admitting tens, let alone hundreds, of thousands of Muslims from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Americans might look at what bringing in millions of Muslims has done for Europe. One would also assume that American Jews would want to know how this surge in MENA Muslims has affected Jews in European countries.

But one would be wrong.

Such an approach would be rational. But for most people, the rational has no chance against the emotional.

A thousand rabbis signed a petition to bring large numbers of MENA Muslims into the United States; and virtually all Jewish organizations outside of the Zionist Organization of America (and some within Orthodoxy) have condemned the Donald Trump administration for enacting a temporary halt in accepting travelers and refugees from seven (of the world’s more than 50) Muslim-majority countries that currently have hostile, dysfunctional or nonexistent governments, for the purpose of creating a more thorough screening process.

Do these rabbis and lay leaders know what is happening in Europe?

Do these rabbis and other Jewish leaders know what it feels like to be a Jew in formerly tolerant Sweden?

Last year, the Jerusalem Post published an article about a Jewish couple who had lived in Sweden since the middle of World War II. They were Danish Jews who, as children, were smuggled into Sweden. Their gratitude to Sweden (and, of course, Denmark) has been immense.

But they have now left the homeland that saved them to live in Spain. The city in which they lived, Malmo, has become so saturated with Jew-hatred that they can no longer live there. It was caused by, in the words of the husband, Dan, “the adverse effects of accepting half-a-million immigrants from the Middle East, who plainly weren’t interested in adopting Sweden’s values and Swedish culture.”

He added that “the politicians, the media, the intellectuals … they all played their parts in pandering to this dangerous ideology and, sadly, it’s changing the fabric of Swedish society irreversibly.”

The Jerusalem Post continued: “Karla [the wife], who’d sat passively, occasionally nodding in agreement at Dan’s analysis, then interrupted, saying, ‘If you disagree with the establishment, you’re immediately called a racist or fascist.’ ” (Sound familiar?)

According to the British newspaper The Telegraph, the anti-Semitism in Malmo is so dangerous that the Danish-Jewish star of a very popular Scandinavian TV show left the show.

“Anti-semitism,” the Telegraph reports, “has become so bad in Malmo, the Swedish city where the hit television drama ‘The Bridge’ is set, that it contributed to actor Kim Bodnia’s decision to quit the show.

“Jewish people in Malmo,” the Telegraph report continued, “have long complained of growing harassment in the city, where 43 percent of the population have a non-Swedish background, with Iraqis, Lebanese and stateless Palestinians some of the largest groups. The Jewish community centre in the city is heavily fortified, with security doors and bollards on the outside pavement to prevent car bombs.”

Do American-Jewish leaders know that, for the first time since the end of World War II, the Jews of France fear to walk in public wearing a kippah or a Star of David necklace? If the rabbis and Jewish lay leaders know this, what do they assume — that Catholic or secular French anti-Semitism has dramatically spiked? Or would they acknowledge that this is a result of Muslim anti-Semitism in France?

Do these rabbis and other Jewish leaders know how much the presence of large numbers of Muslims in Europe has contributed to Israel-hatred in many European countries — especially on campuses? If they don’t, all they need to do is examine the situation on American campuses, where many Jewish students feel more uncomfortable than at any time in American history — all because of the left and Muslim student activists.

An article on the Huffington Post, presumably another racist and xenophobic website, reports:

“Migrants streaming into Europe from the Middle East are bringing with them virulent anti-Semitism which is erupting from Scandinavia to France to Germany. …

“While all of the incoming refugees and migrants, fleeing Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other Muslim lands, may not hold anti-Jewish views, an extremely large number do — simply as a result of being raised in places where anti-Jewish vitriol is poured out in TV, newspapers, schools and mosques. …

“ ‘There is no future for Jews in Europe,’ said the chief Rabbi of Brussels. … ”

So how is one to explain the widespread American-Jewish support for bringing in a massive number of people, many of whom will bring in anti-Jew, anti-Israel and anti-West values?

First, they are staggeringly naïve, believing, for example, that marching with signs at airports that read, “We love Muslims” will change those Muslims who hate Jews into Muslims who love Jews.

Second, never underestimate the power of feeling good about yourself for the left; that is, after all, where the self-esteem movement originated. And it feels very good for these Jews to be able to say, “Look, world — you abandoned us in the 1930s, but we’re better than you.”

And third, when American Jews abandoned liberalism for leftism, they became less Jewish, less Zionist, and more foolish.

Just ask the Jews of Sweden and France.


Dennis Prager’s nationally syndicated radio talk show is heard in Los Angeles on KRLA (AM 870) 9 a.m. to noon. His latest project is the internet-based Prager University (prageru.com).

Ami Horowitz signing New Yorkers to a fake petition in support of police officers in 2016. Photo courtesy of Horowitz.

Meet the gonzo Jewish filmmaker behind Trump’s fake news on Sweden


Pressed to explain his false claim that something terrible had happened in Sweden last week, President Donald Trump traced the canard back to the reporting of Ami Horowitz, a gonzo Jewish-American filmmaker who spoke about Sweden’s problem with Muslim immigrants on Fox News.

On Saturday, during a campaign-style speech in Florida on border security and immigrants, Trump urged listeners to “look at what’s happening last night in Sweden,” leading to widespread puzzlement and mockery from Swedes who said no terrorist attack had taken place there the previous day or even recently.

Karl Bildt, a former prime minister of Sweden, wondered on Twitter what Trump “is smoking,” and the Aftonbladet paper ran a daily roundup from Friday featuring nothing more sinister than a small northern avalanche.

Later Saturday afternoon, Trump indicated that the only thing that happened Friday is that he caught Horowitz talking about Sweden on Fox News.

The president’s reference was arguably a breakthrough for Horowitz, focusing rare international attention on Sweden’s immigrant crime debate, which Horowitz has spent considerable — and controversial — efforts investigating.

In his Fox News interview Horowitz, a former investment banker turned activist with a camera, claimed violent crime by refugees was out of control in Sweden and that the government there is covering up reports of rape to protect “vulnerable” migrants.

Coming amid a polarizing debate about the millions of immigrants arriving in Europe from the war-torn Middle East and Africa, the comments by Trump touched off a discussion about the president’s shaky handle on the facts.

But, Horowitz told JTA, it also “put a spotlight on the main issue: Sweden’s problems with immigration and crime. Which is positive.”

Horowitz has also reported on what he and others call Sweden’s “no-go zones” – areas that are densely populated by mostly Muslim immigrants from Africa and the Middle East that many native Swedes, and Jews especially, avoid for fear of harassment and robbery.

A 43-year-old father of two, Horowitz last year went filming in a no-go zone in the Stockholm neighborhood of Husby, where he recorded an alleged assault on himself by several Arab speakers who objected to his filming on the street.

“My crew ran off when they approached, but since I was miked we have the first few seconds of the attack,” Horowitz, a Los Angeles native who lives in New York, told the Daily Mail. “They repeatedly punched, kicked and choked me as a number of bystanders watched. Eventually they dragged me into a building, which at the time I assumed was to finish me off.” Horowitz ultimately was released.

On Monday, violence erupted in another no-go zone, Rinkeby, where locals torched several cars after police arrested a man there, the Dagens Nyheter daily reported.

Horowitz, a vocal critic of Trump during the campaign, describes himself as “at times conservative, at other times liberal.” He said the incident in Husby was not his first close call while making films that offer a hard look at liberal causes or defend Israel.

In 2016, he took an 11-hour road trip in the West Bank to counter claims that Israeli security forces restrict movement there. At a crossing point into Israel, an adrenaline-filled Horowitz was filmed throwing rocks back at Palestinians who hurled them at him and others waiting to enter.

In 2009, while filming a prickly documentary about the U.N. double standard on Israel and other issues, he traveled to war-torn Cote D’Ivoire to investigate incidents in which U.N. soldiers opened fire on unarmed demonstrators. In the same film, Horowitz seized the microphone at the controversial 2009 Durban Review Conference in Geneva, telling attendees that they should be “embarrassed and ashamed” by their anti-Israel bias. The incident was also captured on tape by JTA.

And in 2015, he sailed with Syrian immigrants infiltrating Europe across the Aegean Sea, reporting that he saw an ISIS recruiter attempting to recruit some of the would-be newcomers.

In 2014, he filmed the reactions of students at the University of California, Berkeley, as he variously waved Israeli and ISIS flags on campus; students are shown ignoring the ISIS flag but reacting angrily to Israel’s. In another film he asked New Yorkers to sign a petition titled “Cops’ Lives Matter.”

Initially, Horowitz’s no-go experience in Sweden generated little attention in the country, where “mainstream media tend to not report the ethnicity of perpetrators of crimes,” according to an employee of the Swedish Migration Board who spoke to JTA on Tuesday on condition of anonymity for fear of being fired.

But Trump’s remarks focused intense attention in Sweden to the link between crime rates in the country of 9 million and its admittance since 2013 of more than 300,000 asylum seekers mainly from Muslim countries.

Sweden had been one of the most welcoming nations in Europe to refugees, but in 2016 drastically cut back on asylum quotas. The government said it was over housing issues.

Some have cited Sweden to defend Trump’s executive order limiting immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Some regard Sweden as an inspiring role model for its efforts to resettle asylum seekers. But others see it as a failed experiment, and say it has contributed to an unprecedented rise in the popularity of far-right anti-Islam parties that are riding a wave of discontent over the arrival of unskilled immigrants at a time of economic stagnation.

As for Sweden’s 20,000 Swedish Jews, they have seen an explosion of hate crimes against members of their community in recent years. Dozens of incidents are documented annually in Malmo alone, a southern city with only 1,000 Jews where a third of the population of 300,000 are Muslims.

Trump’s remark also exposed Horowitz to criticism for his gonzo style of journalism, which owes more to Michael Moore and “The Daily Show” than CNN. In the past he has filmed interviews without permission, provoked onlookers’ reactions with outrageous stunts  and edited footage to ridicule interviewees. Horowitz defends his methodology as accurate, though he admits it is “confrontational and provocative.”

On Monday, two police officers he interviewed for his Sweden documentary, in which Horowitz claimed Muslims are overrepresented among perpetrators of criminal activity, said he edited their answers manipulatively. Horowitz denied the charge and attributed their reactions to pressure from their superiors.

In an op-ed published Tuesday by the Svenska Dagbladet, Linda Nordlund, a former chairwoman of the Liberal Youth of Sweden, criticized Horowitz for relying on anonymous sources in asserting that a majority of women waiting at a police station were there to report rape. She said Horowitz “is known for his xenophobic views” and that his report is “full of inaccurate statistics and innuendo.”

But in that same op-ed, Lund also said that Trump’s “false claims” and Horowitz’s “fake news” eclipse a necessary discussion on real problems – including the undisputed overrepresentation of foreigners in criminal activity. Authorities in Sweden do not publish precise data on the nationality or ethnicity of perpetrators, which the media also squelch.

Lund also noted an increase in sexual harassment in public swimming pools, though she wrote that Horowitz’s claims that rape is increasing are false.

Still, while there was a dip in the number of reported rapes in 2015, the average has risen in Sweden by 18 percent in the years 2011-2016 to an average of 6,341 cases annually, compared to 5,260 cases in the years 2006-2010, according to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention. (Some attribute that to a change in the types of acts that can be classified as rape.)

“There’s been a lot of discussions about statistics, a lot of back and forth,” Horowitz said of the effects of his reporting in Sweden. “There’s a lot of disinformation but on the whole, this overdue discussion is a good thing for Sweden and Europe.”

Report: Bob Dylan still has not mentioned Nobel Prize


American singer and songwriter Bob Dylan has not been in contact with the Swedish Academy since it awarded him the Nobel Prize for Literature last week.

Dylan also has not made a public statement about the honor, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

Sara Danius, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, told Swedish public radio on Monday that the academy has been in contact with an associate of Dylan, but not with Dylan himself. It is not known whether Dylan will attend the award ceremony with the other Nobel laureates in Stockholm on December 10.

“I have called and sent emails to his closest collaborator and received very friendly replies. For now, that is certainly enough,” Danius said, according to the newspaper.

Dylan and his band played a concert in Las Vegas hours after the announcement on October 13, and did not mention the honor. On Friday he performed at Desert Trip, the classic-rock festival in Indio, Calif., and also did not mention the Nobel Prize.

Dylan is well known for giving few interviews and not interacting with his audiences, according to the Times.

Dylan, 75, was recognized for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” the Swedish Academy, which is responsible for choosing the Nobel laureates in literature, announced last week.

Several writers have called on Dylan to turn the prize down, which Jean-Paul Sarte did in 1964.

Born Robert Allen Zimmerman and raised Jewish in Minnesota, Dylan wrote some of the most influential and well-known songs of the 1960s. His hits include “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Times They Are a-Changin’.”

Dylan is the first American to receive the prize in more than 20 years. He will receive the $927,740 prize in Stockholm on Dec. 10, which is Alfred Nobel’s birthday.

Sweden’s deputy PM says she misspoke in calling 9/11 attacks ‘accidents’


Sweden’s deputy prime minister walked back her labeling of the 9/11 attacks as “accidents” in her defense of a politician who resigned over his anti-Israel rhetoric.

Asa Romson, who is also agriculture minister, on Tuesday told the Aftonbladet daily newspaper that she misspoke a day earlier during an interview with the SVT broadcaster about the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington by the al-Qaida terrorist group. The attacks killed more than 3,000 people.

“Obviously, the attack on New York on Sept. 11, 2001 was one of the biggest attacks and acts of terror and atrocities against the peaceful and democratic world that we have seen in modern times. I don’t dispute that,” Romson told Aftonbladet. “The accident is that we got a very harsh debate on integration and on societal development with different religions side by side and subsequent discrimination.”

Romson earlier was defending the work of Mehmet Kaplan, Sweden’s Turkish-born former housing minister, with Muslim youths in the early 2000s. Kaplan, a member of Romson’s Green Party, resigned Monday following the surfacing of a video from 2009 in which he is seen saying at a rally against racism that there are similarities between the persecution of Jews by Nazi Germany during the 1930s and the everyday lives of Palestinians.

Last year, Romson apologized for comparing the deaths of migrants from the Middle East en route to Europe to the industrialized extermination of Jews at the Nazi death camp Auschwitz in southern Poland.

“We are in Europe turning the Mediterranean into the new Auschwitz,” she said during a televised debate. She walked back that comment, which she described as “ill-conceived,” after politicians and Jewish community leaders accused her of abusing the memory of Holocaust victims.

European liberal left leaves Europe in decay, blames the victim for failed policies


Recent incidents highlighted the dangerously failed European left-wing politics that has draped itself in the false cloak of morality and judgment.

Israel has been hit by over a thousand terror attacks perpetrated by Palestinian Arabs in a four month period.

With knifing, car ramming, fire bombing, rock throwing and occasional shooting attacks, about thirty Israelis have been killed and another two hundred hospitalized. Fortunately, the rapid response of armed Israeli citizens and the presence of highly trained security personnel managed to neutralize hundreds of attackers both in their terror acts or immediately after, thereby successfully reducing the number of victims.

Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallstrom, a regular anti-Israel provocateur, however demanded an international investigation into what she called “extrajudicial killings of Palestinians” in order to bring about “possible accountability.”

Her demand was yet another of her public acts of anti-Israelism. As with her past statements, she ignored Palestinian-incited mass terrorism against Israel and, instead, targeted the Israeli victim for possible prosecution.

Wallstrom has a talent for finding Israel guilty for all of Sweden’s woes. When, according to Swedish intelligence, over two hundred Swedes were reported to have joined ISIS, Wallstrom pointed at Israel when she said, “Clearly we have a reason to be worried not only here in Sweden but around the world because there are so many who are being radicalized. Here again, you come back to situations like that in the Middle East where not least there isn’t any future. The Palestinians either have to accept a desperate situation or resort to violence,” implying that Israel is responsible for the radicalization that is driving so many Swedes into the arms of Islamic terror groups.

Wallstrom is typical of the political sickness that has swept Europe and America. Her attitude of blaming the victim makes her a kindred political spirit to the Mayor of Cologne, Henriette Reker, who told the women of her city that they should have kept an “arm’s length” distance of the thousand migrant men that raped, sexually abused, and robbed almost two hundred German females in the central Cologne square on New Years Eve.

This is yet another example of a left-wing pro-immigration politician blaming the victim.

Swedish leftist politicians also advocated a badly flawed policy that allowed masses of unverified migrants into their country. As in Germany, one result has been the rapid rise of violent and disturbing crimes committed by this flood of undisciplined humanity, mainly from the Middle East.

Under politicians like Reker and Wallstrom, European nations have shifted from being homogenous countries into dysfunctional societies. In Sweden in 2104, there were 80,000 requests for asylum and leftist politicians allowed them to enter in the name of cultural tolerance.

Last year, the number of accepted migrants rose by 150% to 190,000 in Sweden, this time in the name of compassion. The Swedish Prime Minister said at the time, “My Europe doesn’t build walls.” 

Sweden’s Socialist generosity grants welfare benefits to non-Swedes. It also grants permanent resident status to stateless persons after four years, and citizenship after a number of years as residents. Little wonder that this has attracted hundreds of thousands of migrants to target Sweden. When the growing flood stormed over the Oresund Bridge that connects Denmark to Sweden and homeless people began camping out in Swedish town squares the same prime minister changed his tune by saying, “Sweden is no longer able to accept the high number of asylum-seekers we’re seeing today.”

Compassion, it seems, has its limits even in Sweden.

Wallstrom-style compassion for terrorism will also find its limits in Sweden, it seems, only after it experiences murderous terrorism on its soil.

Only then will a Swedish Foreign Minister, perhaps, understand how to fight terrorism and allow citizens and security forces to neutralize the killers in the same manner that Israel has done.

The only other way that countries such as Sweden and Germany will change the dangerous misguided and failing leftist socialist politics and rhetoric is by a frustrated and beleaguered population rising up and electing right-minded politicians able and willing to shift both domestic and foreign policies in defense of traditional and core values.

Israel is finding that countries that “get it” and shift to the right suddenly discover the way to solve their terrorism and migrants problems is to follow Israel’s examples.

Barry Shaw is the Senior Associate for Public Diplomacy at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. He is also the author of ‘Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism.’ www.barrysbooks.info

Netanyahu says Israel and EU need to reset ties


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the European Union on Thursday of holding his country to a double standard, and reserved special criticism for Sweden, saying its call to investigate Israel was outrageous, immoral and stupid.

“There is a natural tendency in the EU establishment to single out Israel and treat it in ways that other countries are not being dealt with, and especially other democracies,” he told a gathering of foreign journalists.

Netanyahu said ties needed to be “reset” – an acknowledgment that things were bad – but he did not propose steps to improve them.

Israel has been at odds with the EU over its decision to require labeling of exports from Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In November, Israel suspended contact with EU bodies involved in peace efforts with Palestinians, though Netanyahu said bilateral ties with nearly all EU countries were strong.

Relations with Sweden, however, have deteriorated since it recognized Palestinian statehood last year, and Netanyahu lambasted a call by the Swedish foreign minister to investigate whether Israeli forces were guilty of extrajudicial killings of Palestinian attackers.

“It's outrageous, it's immoral and it's stupid,” Netanyahu said. “People are defending themselves against assailants wielding knives who are about to stab them to death and they shoot the people – and that's extrajudicial killings?”

Rights groups have accused Israel of using excessive force to quell a surge in attacks, which has raised fears of wider confrontation, a decade after the last Palestinian uprising subsided.

Israeli soldiers on Thursday shot dead a Palestinian who tried to stab one of them near the West Bank city of Hebron and, in a separate incident near the town of Nablus, killed a man after he slashed and wounded an army officer, the army said. 

That brought the number of Palestinians killed since Oct. 1 to at least 145. Israel says 93 of these were assailants, while most of the others died in clashes with Israeli security forces.

In the same period, Palestinian stabbings, car-rammings and gun attacks have killed 24 Israelis and a U.S. citizen.

The wave of attacks has been partly fueled by Palestinian frustration over the collapse of peace talks, the growth of Jewish settlements on land they seek for a future state and Islamist calls for the destruction of Israel.

Also stoking the violence has been Muslim agitation at stepped-up Jewish visits to a contested Jerusalem shrine.

Earlier, Israel's Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said pre-emptive raids and arrests had prevented the violence from escalating into an armed Palestinian revolt, and he predicted that the grassroots violence would stop.

“We are managing to foil plans by the organizations, the terrorist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, to carry out attacks. If it were up to them, there would be suicide bombings and gun attacks here every day,” Yaalon told Israel Radio.

“The fact that we are succeeding lends salience to the attempted stabbing or car-ramming attacks. We will also prevail over this phenomenon, I say, but this is a process that takes time. Statistically, we see a waning of this.”

Sweden’s FM demands investigation of ‘extrajudicial executions’ by Israel


Days after Israeli security forces killed an Arab-Israeli fugitive in a shootout, Sweden’s foreign minister called for an investigation of Israel’s killing of Palestinian attackers and a controversial Arab-Israeli Knesset member said the fugitive’s killers should be prosecuted.

Israeli officials quickly condemned Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom’s remarks made Tuesday in a parliamentary debate.

Wallstrom said it is “vital that there is a thorough, credible investigation into these deaths in order to clarify and bring about possible accountability,” according to Reuters.

In a statement the same day, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Wallstrom’s comments are “irresponsible and delusional” and “encourage violence and terrorism,” according to the Times of Israel.

In November, Wallstrom linked the Paris terrorist attacks that killed 130, which were blamed on the Islamic State, to perceived hopelessness among the Palestinians.

Over 130 Palestinians have been killed during the recent wave of violence that began in October, most while perpetrating or attempting attacks, and others in violent clashes with security forces. Twenty-one Israelis and an American studying in Israel at a yeshiva have been killed in the attacks.

On Monday, Hanin Zoabi of the Joint Arab List party in Israel described the killing of fugitive Nashat Melhem, who is believed to be the gunman who shot dead three people in Tel Aviv on Jan. 1, as a “liquidation, because the security forces could have arrested him,” the Times of Israel reported.

Zoabi is known for her inflammatory remarks. At a Kristallnacht event in Amsterdam in November, she compared Israel to the Nazis.

Israeli officials have said security forces are justified in killing suspected attackers because trying to neutralize them without killing them would pose unnecessary risk. However, some human rights organizations and pro-Palestinian groups have said Israeli police and soldiers are too quick to kill alleged perpetrators and should instead make more efforts to subdue and arrest them.

According to the Times of Israel, Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog said it was “interesting Sweden didn’t respond in the same way when the Paris police killed the terrorists, as they should have.”

Sweden raises threat level, citing ‘concrete information’


Sweden's security police raised on Wednesday their terrorist threat assessment by one step, to four on a scale of five, issuing an arrest warrant for one person and saying there was “concrete information” of a possible attack in Sweden days after the Paris killing spree. 

Security police (SAPO) chief Anders Thornberg said one arrest had been made “in absentia” for terrorism crimes for an unnamed suspect. He said there were no known links at present with theParis attacks but the threat from Islamic State militants formed the backdrop to the raised risk level.

“We are in an intensive operative phase and are working analyse and assess incoming information,” Thornberg told a news conference. “At present, we know of no links to what has happened in France and Belgium.” 

Level four means that there is a high probability that “persons have the intent and ability to carry out an attack”.

Swedish police said they had increased their presence in “strategic and public places”, including foreign embassies, following the raising of the threat assessment level.

Prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation into a possible terrorist offence.

Danish police also said on Wednesday they had increased their security readiness to the second-highest of five levels of readiness, as a consequence of the attacks in Paris last week.

Local Swedish news agency Six, citing an unnamed source, said an Iraqi man, trained in Syria, entered Sweden on Wednesday with the intent to carry out an attack. 

The agency said authorities did not know where, when or how any attack could be carried out. It was not clear whether the attack was planned to be carried out in Sweden.

The security police declined to comment about the report.

Sweden over the last few years has participated in NATO missions in Afghanistan and are training Kurdish forces in Iraq, moves that have changed its traditional image of neutrality.

The last militant attack in Sweden came in 2010 when a suicide bomber died when his bomb belt went off prematurely in central Stockholm as he was getting ready to attack a train station or department store. 

The same month Swedish and Danish police arrested five people for planning to attack employees of a Danish newspaper that sparked global controversy in 2005 with cartoons of Prophet Mohammad.

“We sometimes exaggerate the idea that just because we are not part of a military alliance and relatively neutral that we have a kind of immunity to terrorism and extremism,” said Magnus Ranstorp, research director with the Centre for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defence College.

“But it does not work like that.”

Israel angered by ‘appalling’ Swedish comments after Paris attacks


Israel described on Monday as “appallingly impudent” comments by Sweden's foreign minister that it interpreted as an attempt to link the Islamic State attacks in Paris to the plight of Palestinians in the West Bank.

Sweden's ambassador to Israel was summoned to the Israeli Foreign Ministry to explain the remarks Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom made on Saturday to Swedish state broadcaster SVT.

Asked if she was concerned about the radicalization of young people in Sweden who are fighting for Islamic State, Wallstrom said: “Clearly we have a reason to be worried not only here in Sweden but around the world because there are so many who are being radicalized. 

“Here again, you come back to situations like that in the Middle East where not least the Palestinians see that there isn't any future (for them). (The Palestinians) either have to accept a desperate situation or resort to violence.”

Israel has been vocal in contending that Islamic State's offensives in the Middle East, attacks on the West and radical religious doctrine are unrelated to the decades-old conflict with the Palestinians.

In a statement, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon accused Wallstrom of having consistently shown anti-Israeli bias.

“The Swedish foreign minister's statements are appallingly impudent,” Nahshon said. “(She) demonstrates genuine hostility when she points to a connection of any kind between the terror attacks in Paris and the complex situation between Israel and the Palestinians.”

A spokesman for Wallstrom said the foreign minister was not talking about the attacks in Paris when she commented on the Palestinians, and that the remarks came in another part of the interview that focused on factors leading to radicalization.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the carnage on Friday in Paris that killed 129 people. The group said the attacks were in retaliation for French airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

Swedish FM links Palestinians’ frustration to Paris attacks


The European Jewish Congress accused Sweden’s foreign minister of being “borderline racist” after she linked the Paris terrorist attacks to perceived hopelessness among the Palestinians.

Dr. Moshe Kantor, president of the EJC, leveled the accusation Monday following remarks Friday on Swedish television by Margot Wallstrom about the killing that day of more than 130 people in a series of attacks in the French capital. French President Francois Hollande said the attacks were planned by the Islamic State group in Syria.

Kantor said of the remarks by Wallstrom, “This is a deeply troubling worldview and borderline racist,” adding that she ignored “conflicts around the world involving Muslims and cherry-picks the only conflict involving Jews, as if to once again suggest, perhaps not consciously, the age-old idea that the Jews are always central to international affairs in a malevolent way.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry also reacted to the remarks with a harshly worded condemnation and summoned Sweden’s ambassador to Israel, Karl-Gustav Nesser, to clarify the issue.

During an interview for the SVT station, Wallstrom said, “To counteract the radicalization, we must go back to the situation such as the one in the Middle East of which not the least the Palestinians see that there is no future: We must either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence.”

The Swedish Embassy in Israel later said in a tweet that Wallstrom “has not said that Israeli-Palestinian conflict is linked to tragic events in Paris. Sweden condemns all acts of terrorism.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry in its statement said Wallstrom’s words “are appallingly impudent,” adding that Wallstrom “has consistently demonstrated bias against Israel and exhibits genuine hostility when she indicates a connection of any kind between the terrorist attacks in Paris and the complex situation between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Protesters in Sweden chant ‘slaughter the Jews’


Hundreds of protesters in the Swedish city of Malmo were filmed chanting in Arabic about slaughtering Jews and stabbing soldiers.

Pro-Palestinian groups organized a rally Monday in the city center against what they consider Israeli violence and to show solidarity with Palestinians amid deadly measures taken by Israeli authorities to stop the recent spate of attacks on Jews in Israel and the West Bank.

Isaac Bachman, Israel’s ambassador to Sweden, posted on his Facebook account a video taken at the rally showing hundreds chanting “’slaughter the Jews, stab soldiers.” In other slogans, the chanters encouraged “heroes to carry out attack after attack” and to “start a third intifada.”

“These are extremely troubling instances of a grotesque but nevertheless very real – and murderous – incitement which must be dealt with by the full force of the law,” Bachman wrote.

His wife, Osnat, wrote about the video: “Swedish people: Is this what you believe in? Is this what you bargained for? Are these your morals? Since I know the answers I feel ashamed in your name.”

Separately, the Scandinavian airline SAS announced on Wednesday that it would stop flights from Copenhagen to Tel Aviv at the end of March, along with Ankara and Russia, citing profitability issues.

SAS spokeswoman Trine Kromann denied claims made in the Israeli media that the line was profitable — the Israel Hayom daily reported Tuesday that the line had seen a 41 percent increase in traffic in 2014 over 2013 — and denied that the decision to stop the flights to Israel was in fact politically motivated.

Kromann said SAS did not share or discuss traffic statistics, “which in any case are only a part of the commercial calculation for determining profitability.”She added: “We also look at, for example, the price we can get per ticket and operating costs.”

The line to Tel Aviv is a particularly costly one for SAS, Kromann also said.

Flotilla boat leaves from Sweden in bid to break Gaza blockade


A trawler left Sweden on its way to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip 5,000 nautical miles away.

The Marianne of Gothenburg departed on Sunday evening and is the first ship in the Freedom Flotilla III to leave for Gaza, according to the website of the Ship to Gaza Sweden campaign.

The boat, which was purchased jointly by the Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Norway, is carrying solar panels and medical equipment, according to Ship to Gaza Sweden, along with five crew members and eight passengers.

The Ship to Gaza organization is calling for an immediate end to the naval blockade of Gaza; opening of the Gaza Port; and secure passage for Palestinians between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Sweden officially recognized the state of Palestine last October.

Among the passengers are Israeli-born Swedish citizen Dror Feiler, a musician and spokesman of Ship to Gaza; Dr. Henry Ascher, a professor of public health and pediatrician; Lennart Berggren, a filmmaker; Maria Svensson, pro tem spokeswoman of the Feministiskt initiative; and Mikael Karlsson, chairman of Ship to Gaza Sweden.

The boat is named after Marianne Skoog, a veteran member of the Swedish Palestine Solidarity movement, who died in May 2014.

The Freedom Flotilla’s first attempt to break the blockade ended in the deaths of nine Turkish activists after Israeli Navy commandos on May 31, 2010 boarded the Mavi Marmara, which claimed to be carrying humanitarian aid, after warning the ship not to sail into waters near the Gaza Strip in circumvention of Israel’s naval blockade of the coastal strip. A second attempt was turned back in October 2012.

The Marianne will stop at ports in Helsingborg, Malmo and Copenhagen, as well as others to be announced later, according to the Ship to Gaza Sweden website.

Frightened mourners at Malmo Jewish cemetery get police protection


Swedish police posted officers at a Jewish cemetery in Malmo after mourners said they had been intimidated there by passers-by.

The alleged intimidation occurred on March 10 at Malmo’s Ostra, or eastern, Jewish cemetery, the online edition of the Expressen daily reported  Saturday.

Two police officers stationed at the cemetery saw two cars speed off as they were approached by police shortly after midnight, according to the report.

Police were called to the scene by a 59-year-old man who stayed at the cemetery overnight to perform a burial ritual and said he felt intimidated by several teenagers he saw in the area. The teens hid when they noticed they were spotted by the man.

The man was in a preparation room to watch over the body of his deceased brother ahead of the burial — a ritual known as shmirat hamet, or guarding of the dead. The mourner’s son also was present.

After seeing the teenagers watching him during the day, the man guarding the body, who was not identified, called police when he feared someone was trying to break into the preparation room.

“We got really scared,” he told the newspaper. “Instead of mourning in peace, we focused on what was happening outside. They’re trying to scare us and, sadly, they are succeeding.”

Malmo’s few hundred Jewish residents have come under attack in recent years from some members of the southern city’s Muslim population, which constitutes one-third of the city’s population.

According to Expressen, over the past two years, some 137 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in the Malmo region, a figure higher than anywhere else in Sweden.

One dead in shooting at Danish meeting with artist who drew Mohammad


A civilian was killed and three police were wounded on Saturday in shooting at a meeting in Copenhagen attended by Lars Vilks, an artist who has received death threats since publishing images of the Prophet Mohammad.

Danish police confirmed one civilian had been killed in the shooting and said the two suspects had fled in a car after the attack on the gathering, which had been billed as a debate on art and blasphemy.

Danish news agency Ritzau said both Vilks and the French ambassador, who was also attending, were both unharmed, but that three police had been wounded.

Police commander Henrik Blandebjerg told local TV there were two assailants. The dead civilian man was 40 years old. Police with searchlights were scouring the area for evidence.

Sweden's security police said Swedish bodyguards were with Vilks at the time of the shooting.

Authorities in southern Sweden said they were helping Danish police. Sweden is joined to Denmark by bridge, and transit across is largely unchecked.

Just over a month ago, 17 people were killed in France in three days of violence that began when two Islamist gunmen burst into the Paris offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, opening fire in revenge for its publication of satirical images of Mohammad.

Vilks stirred controversy in 2007 with published drawings depicting Mohammad as a dog which sparked threats from Islamist militant groups.

He has received numerous death threats and has lived under the constant protection of the Swedish police since 2010. Two years ago, an American woman who called herself Jihad Jane was sentenced to 10 years in prison for plotting to kill him.

The scene of the shooting was a cafe at a cultural centre in a central part of Copenhagen.

French President Francois Hollande said Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve would go to the Danish capital as soon as possible.

Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published cartoons by various artists in 2005 depicting Mohammad, provoking protests across the Muslim world in which at least 50 died and death threats against the cartoonists.

Son’s postcard to Lodz Ghetto resurfaces 72 years later


Almost 73 years ago, on March 21, 1942, Stefan Prager wrote a postcard from Sweden to his parents, who had been deported from their native Berlin to the Lodz Ghetto in Poland.

He wrote about his recently celebrated 18th birthday, adding, “I’m feeling healthy and the winter passed well. How are you doing?”

Prager never got a response or heard from his parents.

Now, as Prager approaches his 91st birthday, the postcard has resurfaced within the extensive digitized archives of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH). The postcard’s discovery has led, in turn, to new inquiries and some answers about his parents’ fate.

Stefan Prager was born in Berlin, the son of Ruth Prager and her husband, Ernst Wolfgang Prager, who was wounded three times fighting in the German army during World War I.

The boy attended a Jewish school in Berlin for four years, and in March 1939, the parents sent their 15-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter on a Kindertransport (children’s transport) to Sweden.

Stefan, a big-city boy, spent the war years with a farmer in a remote forest area, living in a house without electricity, a toilet or running water, feeding the livestock and chopping down large trees in the icy winter. He kept writing to his parents in Berlin until they were deported in October 1941.

This was the time of Hitler’s greatest victories, and as the German armies came closer and closer to Sweden, Stefan wondered, “Where would I go to hide?” he told the Journal in a recent interview.

“In the [Swedish] village where my sister lived, there were several known Nazis who would tell [the Germans that she was Jewish].”

Thus the story — like those of millions of other Holocaust victims — might have ended, but for the resilience of this postcard, which eluded destruction through all the upheavals.

In late 2011, Edward Victor, a retired Los Angeles lawyer, donated to LAMOTH an unusual collection of Nazi-era mementos that he had acquired and organized during a 30-year period. It consisted of some 2,000 stamps, letters, identification cards, visas, school records and currency receipts, which frequently traced the fate of a given Jewish family from the beginning of the Nazi era in 1933 to its bloody end in 1945.

At LAMOTH, Vladimir Melamed, director of Archives, Library and Collections, integrated the material in the Archon Platform-LAMOTH, the museum’s online archive, which now holds close to a million document pages (lamoth.info).

In December, Melamed received an email from Stefan Prager, who was living in Stockholm as a retired manager at SGS, a company that provides inspection, testing and certification services, primarily for international shipping.

“A relative of mine found a postcard at your museum which I sent to my parents from Sweden to the Lodz Ghetto in 1942. … I never heard from them,” Prager wrote.

Melamed and his staff went to work and tracked down the postcard in one of his digitized files labeled “Correspondence to and from Lodz Ghetto.”

No one knows how the card survived, but Prager speculates that “it was found at the Jewish administration office [in Lodz] among lots of similar stuff following the total evacuation of the ghetto to Auschwitz.”

With the recovered postcard as a lead, Melamed contacted the State Archive in Lodz for details on Prager’s parents’ fate. Last month, he received copies of handwritten entries by a Nazi official to the effect that Ernst and Ruth Prager were deported from Berlin Oct. 27-29, 1941, to the Litzmannstadt Ghetto (German for Lodz).

The next paper is an “Announcement” from the ghetto’s “Eldest of the Jews,” dated May 22, 1942, that Ruth Prager, now widowed, was being moved from the one room where she lived with her husband to another room shared with three other persons.

The last notice, dated Oct. 13, 1942, simply stated that Ruth Prager had vacated her room the previous day. Under “Reason for the Move,” an official entered “Death.”

LAMOTH president E. Randol Schoenberg noted that “the recovery of the Prager postcard reinforces the point that even 70 years after the end of the Holocaust, there are still undiscovered documents, still descendants of families searching for the fates of Nazi victims and still large gaps in our knowledge of concentration camps.

“For instance, who has heard of the Maly Trostenets extermination camp near Minsk? Yet, 65,000 Jews were murdered there.

“We owe it to the generosity of collectors like Edward Victor and the dedication of archivists like Dr. Melamed and his staff that large parts of the still unknown history of the Holocaust are coming to light.” 

Israel faces tough months as pressure builds on Netanyahu


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to keep his fractious coalition together as talk of early elections grows, but in trying to bolster himself domestically he runs the risk of further alienating international partners.

To satisfy restive far-right parties in his government, Netanyahu has promised more settlement on land the Palestinians seek for an independent state, greatly aggravating the United States and the European Union.

And in an effort to keep ultra-nationalists sweet, he has not denounced their calls for Jewish prayer at Jerusalem's holiest site, although he has said a decades-long ban on such prayer will not be changed.

That cautious approach has harmed Israel's ties with Jordan, which oversees the Temple Mount, prompting Amman to withdraw its ambassador for the first time since a 1994 peace treaty.

It has also fueled the worst violence Jerusalem has seen in a decade, with daily rioting in the mainly Arab east of the city and talk of a new Palestinian uprising.

“From the outside, it's hard to understand why he's doing what he's doing,” says one European ambassador, expressing frustration at what he regards as Netanyahu's stubbornness.

“At the end of the day it's electoral. He's all about staying in power and that's what he's banking on.”

Elections are not formally due until 2017. But because of increased friction within the coalition and ructions inside Netanyahu's own Likud party, the smart betting now is that a vote will be called early, probably in around six months' time.

That suggests the next half year could be a tumultuous period, with Netanyahu trying to keep his ever more demanding coalition partners onside, even if that means throwing them bones that alarm the Palestinians and international allies.

The question is whether Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving prime minister since the first, David Ben-Gurion, can keep a handle on the growing unease his policy approach appears to be causing, or whether events might spiral out of control.

With Sweden having last month become the first major Western country to recognize Palestine as an independent state, any miscalculation could provide other European countries with justifications to follow Sweden's lead.

And all the while, the Israeli prime minister is having to deal with a deepening security crisis as violence grows.

On Monday, an Israeli soldier was stabbed and critically wounded by a Palestinian man in Tel Aviv, expanding the reach of the recent violence, which had so far largely been confined to Jerusalem, where four people have been killed.

The killing of an Arab-Israeli by Israeli police has further complicated the picture, with the risk that the 20 percent Arab minority may join Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in a more generalized uprising against Israel, even if that possibility remains remote.

And underpinning everything is the lack of any peace talks with the Palestinians. The last round broke off in April after months of largely fruitless sessions.

Since then, relations between Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have worsened markedly, with the Israeli leader accusing Abbas of inciting the recent violence with a call to Muslims to defend the Noble Sanctuary “by all means.”

It was only a few months ago that Netanyahu talked of a “new horizon” in the Middle East, saying the threat from Islamic State meant that countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt shared an interest with Israel in defeating Islamist extremism.

Now, however, with Jordan having withdrawn its ambassador and Egypt on edge about developments at the Noble Sanctuary, which contains al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, that new horizon is starting to look distant and cloudy.

Writing by Luke Baker; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Sophie Walker

Sweden recognizes Palestinian state, hopes it will revive peace process


The Swedish government officially recognized the state of Palestine on Thursday, the first Western European country to do so, reflecting growing international exasperation over the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom told reporters her government hoped it would bring a new dynamic to the situation.

“Our decision comes at a critical time because over the last year we have seen how the peace talks have stalled, how decisions over new settlements on occupied Palestinian land have complicated a two-state solution and how violence has returned to Gaza,” she said.

The move drew praise from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and criticism from Israel, and has displeased the United States, Israel's principle supporter.

But Wallstrom rejected accusations that Sweden was taking sides and said she hoped other EU countries would follow its lead.

Palestinians seek statehood in the West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as their capital. The land was captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, although Israeli soldiers and settlers pulled out of Gaza in 2005.

Years of efforts to forge a two-state solution have made little progress, with the last effort at negotiations collapsing in April. Palestinians now see little choice but to make a unilateral push for statehood.

A total of 135 countries already recognize Palestine, including several east European countries that did so before they joined the EU. Sweden was the first Western European country to do so.

The move drew immediate criticism from Israel, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman calling it a “wretched decision” that would bolster extremist Palestinian elements.

“The Swedish government should understand that Middle East relations are more complex than a piece of self-assembled Ikea furniture, and the matter should be handled with responsibility and sensitivity,” Lieberman said in a foreign ministry statement.

The Palestinian leadership called on other countries to follow Sweden, saying that establishing an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital would strengthen the chances for peace.

“This decision is a message to Israel and is an answer to its continued occupation of Palestinian land,” said Nabeel Abu Rdeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Earlier this month the Palestinians' chief peace negotiator said a resolution would be put to the United Nations Security Council calling for a November 2017 deadline for the establishment of two states based on the boundaries that existed before the 1967 war.

With Britain's parliament having recognized Palestine in a non-binding vote earlier this month, and similar votes in the pipeline in Spain, France and Ireland, the Palestinians hope momentum in Europe is shifting.

Wallstrom said Sweden's move aimed at supporting moderate Palestinians and making their status more equal with that of Israel in peace negotiations, as well as giving hope to young people on both sides.

“We are taking the side of the peace process,” she said.

The United States said earlier this month, when the Swedish move was in the works, that it believed international recognition of a Palestinian state would be premature. Statehood should come only through a negotiated outcome, it said.

The European Union said after the Swedish announcement on Thursday that the EU's objective was a two-state solution with an independent Palestinian state living side by side with Israel.

“In order to achieve this, what is important is direct negotiations resume as soon as possible.” European Commission spokesman Maya Kocijancic told a news conference. “As for the European Union position on recognition, the EU has said in the past that it would recognize a Palestinian state when appropriate.”

Some EU states, which are closer to the Israeli position, were irritated by the Swedish move, diplomats in Brussels said.

Nonetheless, the Swedish move showed growing international frustration at the lack of progress, with continued Israeli settlement building on occupied land a particular point of concern. The Gaza war of July and August also refocused attention on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The U.N. Under Secretary-General for political affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, said in New York on Wednesday that Israel's decision to accelerate planning for some 1,000 new settler homes in East Jerusalem raises serious doubts about the Israeli commitment to peace with the Palestinians.

The U.N. General Assembly approved the de facto recognition of the state of Palestine in 2012, but the European Union and most EU countries have yet to give official recognition.

City hall in Sweden to play ‘Schindler’s List’ theme for neo-Nazis meeting


The town hall of a Swedish city will play the theme from the Holocaust film “Schindler’s List” before and after a public meeting of a neo-Nazi party.

The Party of the Swedes was scheduled to hold a public rally in Norrkoping, in central Sweden, on Tuesday.

The local ruling and opposition political parties allowed the town hall to play the music from the Steven Spielberg film on the 80 bells in its tower, thelocal.se website reported Tuesday morning.

Over the weekend, a Party of the Swedes rally in Malmo led to clashes between counterprotesters and police; 10 people were injured. About 1,500 counterprotesters gathered at the site of the rally. Some threw smoke bombs and fire crackers while shouting “No Nazis on our streets,” according to The Local newspaper. The police horses trampled some counterdemonstrators.

Three people were arrested in connection with the violence in a city that annually experiences several dozen anti-Semitic incidents.

On Sunday in Gothenburg, the second largest city in Sweden, some 2,300 counterdemonstrators gathered to protest meetings of the neo-Nazi party, during which some threw fermenting fish at the meeting participants.

Israeli gets jail time in Sweden for terrorism threats


An Israeli citizen who threatened to commit terrorism in Sweden after his asylum request there was denied has been sentenced to two years in prison.

Amram Ivri, 43, was sent to jail and made to pay $14,080 in fines and legal fees Friday for actions he committed last month, the news site exponerat.net reported. The Stockholm District Court also handed a deportation order banning him from, re-entering Sweden until 2024 after his release.

On June 19, Ivri holed up at a local nonprofit working with refugees and threatened to blow himself up with explosives because Sweden’s Migration Board, which handles asylum applications, had denied his request. A belt he said was packed with explosives turned out to be a dummy.

“The fact that the man claimed to be part of a terrorist attack and displayed a bomb belt is particularly reckless,” Tomas Zander, a judge who oversaw the case, said.

Media reports on the sentence did not say whether Ivri — whose name means “Hebrew” in that language was Jewish or why he was seeking asylum in Sweden.

Besides threatening to blow up the offices of the Civil Rights Defenders organization, he also threatened to set off two additional bombs at the offices of two large Swedish parties: the Social Democrats and the Moderates.

During the bomb scare, police blocked large parts of Stockholm to traffic as negotiators tried to talk Ivri, who had at least one hostage inside the building, into surrendering himself. He finally left the building after five hours.

Ivri used to be a citizen of Armenia, the news site reported, though he claims that he relinquished his Armenian passport years ago in Moscow.

Man beaten in Malmo for hanging Israeli flag


A man was beaten severely for hanging an Israeli flag outside his window in the Swedish city of Malmo, police said.

Several unidentified men assaulted the 38-year-old man with metal bars after they hurled a stone at his window on July 6, the Svenska Dagbladet daily reported on July 7. The victim, who was taken to the hospital, was not identified by name.

After the stone hit the window, the man went downstairs and was assaulted, according to Malmo Police spokeswoman Linda Pleym. She said his injuries were serious but not life threatening,

“He was attacked because of the flag,” Pleym said.

The man managed to escape his attackers and was found prone by passers-by on an adjacent street. Paramedics rushed him to medical treatment in an ambulance. Police have no suspects in custody.

Several hundred Jews live in Malmo, a city of approximately 300,000 where a third of the population is made up of people who were born in Muslim countries or whose parents were born in those countries.

Several dozen anti-Semitic attacks occur in Malmo annually, according to community leaders and police, including repeated attacks on Jewish institutions.

Across Europe, attacks against Jews increase during periods of unrest connected to Israel.

On April 16, the district of Skane, where Malmo is located, declined the Jewish community’s request to increase the number of security cameras around Jewish buildings, according to Michael Gelvan, chairman of the Nordic Jewish Security Council, and Per-Erik Ebbestahl, director of safety and security in the City of Malmo.

The municipality supported the request, Ebbestahl said.

District officials did not reply to request for further information.

Ban on non-medical circumcision introduced in Sweden


A bill introduced in the Swedish parliament would ban the non-medical circumcision of males younger than 18.

Two lawmakers from the rightist Sweden Democrats party, noting that female genital mutilation is illegal in Sweden, submitted the bill to the Riksdag on Tuesday.

Bjorn Soder and Per Ramhorn wrote in the measure that “boys should have the same right to avoid both complications of reduced sensitivity in the genitals, painful erections, increased risk of kidney damage and psychological distress by permanent removal, and the tremendous violation of privacy that circumcision actually means.”

The bill proposes to scrap legislation from 2001 that says circumcision of newborns is permissible if it is performed by a “licensed professional.”

Jewish ritual circumcisers, or mohelim, in Sweden receive their licenses from the country’s health board, but a nurse or doctor must still be present when they perform the procedure.

The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party was established in 1988 but only made it into parliament following unprecedented gains in the 2010 elections, when it garnered 5.7 percent of the votes, or 20 seats out of 349 in Sweden’s parliament. The opposition party is the sixth largest faction in the Riksdag.

Ritual circumcision of underage boys increasingly has come under attack in Scandinavia, both by left-wing secularists as well as right-wingers who fear the influence of immigration from Muslim countries.

The opposition followed a ruling last year by a German court in Cologne that ritual circumcision amounted to a criminal act. The ruling was overturned but triggered temporary bans in Austria and Switzerland.

Sweden has about 20,000 Jews and 500,000 Muslims, according to a U.S. State Department report from 2011.

The debate we should be having on Syria


On Tuesday evening, President Barack Obama boarded Air Force One, departed for Sweden and left behind a looming political disaster. Despite the endorsement of Republican and Democratic House leaders, many members of Congress remain deeply skeptical about the president's proposal to carry out cruise missile strikes in Syria. And they should be.

A few dozen missile strikes will not alter the military balance in Syria's civil war. They will not punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the point where it moves him to the bargaining table. The Syrian autocrat is engaged in a ruthless fight for survival. Obama is not. As long as that dynamic continues, limited military action will have a limited impact.

Tomahawk cruise missiles are the latest wonder weapon to be used to lull Americans into thinking they can have war without cost. (For now, they've replaced drones.) In a sign of just how limited the American effort will be, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee drafted a resolution Tuesday night that would limit any military action to sixty days, with one thirty day extension.

Under the best-case scenario outlined by administration officials, American destroyers will lob a few dozen missiles at Syria late next week. Washington's credibility will be magically restored. And there will be little pain, risk or casualties for Americans.

That is wishful thinking.

At the same time, opponents of military action on the left and right argue that we can ignore what is happening in Syria. The Sunnis who make up 70 percent of Syria's population and their Gulf backers will give up, some argue. Or if Assad wins, a magnanimous Hezbollah and Iran will not be emboldened by his successful use of chemical weapons.

In truth, Syria is on a path to become a failed state split between Sarin-wielding Alawites and Sunni jihadists. The largest refugee crisis in the world since Vietnam will destabilize Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey and potentially ignite a regional war. And America's true red lines – Israel's security and the steady flow of Middle Eastern oil into the global economy – will be threatened.

A gaping hole in the president's response to Syria is that it does not grapple with the core question: what should America's role in the Middle East be? Defender of chemical weapons bans? Defender of oil flows? Defender of Israel and no one else?

Political realities, of course, limit what type of military action Obama can propose. War weary Americans want no part of another conflict in the Middle East. But they deserve a realistic, clear-eyed strategy in the region. President George W. Bush's invasion-centric approach to countering militancy clearly failed. But Obama's hands-off approach is not working either.

For six years, Obama has successfully struck a middle ground in foreign policy, using drone strikes and a time-limited troop surge in Afghanistan to appear tough but anti-war. His plan to strike Syria could be the straw that breaks the back of Obama's split-the-difference approach.

Barring a major personal lobbying effort by the president, a skeptical House is likely to reject Obama's request for an authorization. An ABC News poll released Tuesday found that 60 percent of Americans oppose a unilateral US missile strike on Syria.

To be fair, an array of factors beyond Obama's control have come together to turn Syria into the administration's perfect storm. Assad's depravity, Russian President Vladimir Putin's cynicism and a fractious Syrian opposition make up a rogue's gallery of stubborn opponents and unappealing allies. And the war in Iraq – which Obama opposed – has created sweeping isolationism.

Obama also has himself to blame. Traits that have been steadily building in his administration for the last several years have made Syria harder to solve.

First, it is unclear how deeply Obama, in fact, wants to act in Syria. A famously detached president seems half-engaged. Instead of Obama making impassioned speeches last week to the American people, Secretary of State John Kerry did. After making a surprise announcement on Saturday that he would seek a congressional authorization to strike Syria, Obama went golfing.

Tracking the president's personal involvement in the debate ahead will show his true intent. If Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and others remain the primary administration voices lobbying Congress, it is a sign of Obama's ambivalence.

In an ominous sign for the White House, opposition to the strikes is growing on the far right and left. Lead by Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, libertarians say no vital U.S. interests are at stake in Syria. Citing Iraq, liberals who enjoy generous security and rights at home blithely dismiss the idea of enforcing international norms abroad.

As historian Douglas Brinkley noted, one of the oddest things about the American response to Assad's chemical weapons attack is the lack of moral outrage. Beyond Kerry, few Americans have expressed anger at a barbaric attack that killed 1,400 people, including 400 children. Yes, we must not repeat the mistakes of Iraq. But that does not absolve us from seriously grappling with the nightmarish scenarios that are emerging in the Middle East.

There are no quick or easy solutions in Syria. Even if the U.S. acts, it will not stabilize the country. But we need a comprehensive strategy.

At this point, the best of several bad options is to mount extensive U.S. strikes, arm the moderate opposition and try to negotiate a political settlement with Russia and Iran. A Tomahawk-created peace is a fantasy.


David Rohde is a Reuters columnist.

Holocaust hero Wallenberg statue rededication set


After standing for nearly 25 years on the corner of Fairfax Avenue and Beverly Boulevard, a statue of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Jewish lives in the Holocaust, will be rededicated on Aug. 5.

The event will come one day after what would have been Wallenberg’s 101st birthday. 

“We want to perpetuate the memory of a hero,” said Stan Treitel, who is helping to organize the rededication ceremony. Treitel is a member of the Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Celebration Commission, an effort spearheaded by the New York-based Friedlander Group, a government relations lobbying firm. 

The ceremony, hosted by Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles (JFS), L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz and Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, is open to the public and will begin at 10 a.m. at Fairfax and Beverly. Speakers will include L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Koretz and a number of Holocaust survivors saved by Wallenberg. David Siegel, consul general of Israel in Los Angeles, also will be part of the event, which will be preceded by a 9 a.m. reception at the JFS Freda Mohr Multipurpose Center on North Fairfax Avenue. 

The statue was unveiled on Dec. 4, 1988. Designed by the late Italian artist Franco Assetto, it features a bronze silhouette of a man with his hand extended, flanked by two stainless steel wings, symbolizing Wallenberg’s role as an angel of mercy. The drive to create the monument was spearheaded by John Brooks, a Hungarian Jew who was saved by Wallenberg, and Yaroslavsky. In the year prior to the statue’s erection, the street corner on which it now stands was given the name Raoul Wallenberg Square.

“The Holocaust was one of the darkest periods in history, and Mr. Wallenberg’s manner and heroism should never be forgotten. We want to make sure people never forget the example he set,” said John Darnell, senior field deputy and social service advocate for Koretz. “Also, one day when all the Holocaust survivors are no longer with us, we can all look to the statue of Wallenberg and remember his existence.”

Wallenberg, a 31-year-old Swedish businessman, was asked by the United States’ War Refugee Board to travel to Hungary in 1944 and undertake a mission to rescue Jews from the Nazis. Wallenberg produced thousands of Swedish protective papers for Jews in peril. In addition, he established some 30 safe houses in Budapest that sheltered thousands of Jewish refugees, and he set up an international ghetto protected by neutral countries.

Wallenberg was arrested in January 1945 by Soviet officials and was never seen again. In his six months in Hungary, it is estimated that Wallenberg may have saved up to 100,000 Jewish lives. 

Wallenberg has been made an honorary citizen of the United States, Canada, Hungary, Australia and Israel. Israel has named Wallenberg one of the Righteous Among the Nations, and in 1989 the United States made Oct. 5 Raoul Wallenberg Recognition Day. In July 2012, Wallenberg was posthumously awarded a Congressional Gold Medal to honor his heroic actions during the Holocaust.

Hezbollah operative tracked Israeli plane landings in Cyprus


The Hezbollah operative on trial for plotting against Israeli tourists in Cyprus acknowledged passing on Israeli aircraft landing times to his terrorist handlers.

Hosem Taleb Yaacoub on Thursday said in court that he recorded landing times for Arkia flights between Tel Aviv and Larnaca, the New York Times reported.

Yaacoub, who has a Lebanese and a Swedish passport, had earlier in the week acknowledged membership in Hezbollah and staking out areas frequented by Israeli tourists.

On Thursday, he said he relayed the landing times to his Hezbollah handler.

Yaacoub continued to deny witting involvement in any plot to kill Israelis, saying he did not know how the information he gathered would be used.

Two weeks after Yaacoub's arrest early last July, a suicide bomber killed five Israelis and a bus driver in Bulgaria, and earlier this month, Bulgaria implicated Hezbollah in the attack.

Yaacoub acknowledged receiving military training from Hezbollah. The trial comes as the United States and Israel are increasing pressure on the European Union to ban Hezbollah as a a terrorist organization.

“The United States of America and other countries have already included Hezbollah in its list of terrorist organizations,” Peres said Feb. 21 at a memorial service for Joseph Trumpeldor, a pre-state fighter who fell in battle 93 years ago. “Now, after it has been proved that Hezbollah was behind the terror attack in Bulgaria, on European soil, and murdered innocent civilians, and as reports increase of its involvement, along with Iran, in attacks in Cyprus and Nigeria, the time has come for every country in the world, and especially the European Union, to add Hezbollah to its list of terror organizations.”

Earlier this week, Nigerian authorities arrested three men suspected of staking out U.S and Israeli targets on behalf of Iran. Hezbollah often acts as Iran's surrogate.

No hate crime conviction in Malmö in two years, despite record number of incidents


Despite a record number of complaints about hate crimes in the Swedish city of Malmö, not a single person was convicted of such offenses in over two years, according to a recent report.

The local daily Sydsvenskan on Jan. 7 reported that in 2010 and 2011, the Swedish court system did not convict anyone of hate crimes despite a record-number of 480 complaints about such incidents reported in those years.

In total, only 16 cases formed the basis for an indictment, none of them over anti-Semitic behavior.

Approximately 700 Jews live in Malmö, amid tens of thousands of immigrants from Muslim countries. The Jewish community’s leaders say a few dozen anti-Semitic attacks occur here annually.

[Related: Why the fate of Malmö’s Jews matters]

Unidentified individuals detonated an explosive charge in front of the Malmö Jewish Community Center in October and broke the building’s door. Police have no suspects in connection with the attack.

According to members of the community, most anti-Semitic attacks are perpetrated by Muslims, though Malmö Mayor Ilmar Reepalu has denied this.

He advised Jews who want to be safe in Malmo to reject Zionism, which he listed along with anti-Semitism as an unacceptable phenomenon. Reepalu has also said the Jewish community had been “infiltrated” by anti-Muslim agents.

Hannah Rosenthal, the United States former special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, last year accused Reepalu of not doing enough to fight anti-Semitism.

According to Sydsvenskan, a total of 4,590 hate crimes were reported to the police in the whole of Sweden in 2012.

Hate crimes are not a punishable category in the Swedish penal code but are considered an aggravating circumstance that can lead to tougher sentencing.

No suspects in Malmö JCC attack, police say


Police in Malmö, Sweden have no suspects in September’s attack on the city’s Jewish community center.

Anders Lindell, a police spokesman, told JTA that all charges were dropped against the two young men whom police arrested shortly after the Sept. 28 attack.

“We have concluded the suspects could not have done it,” he said. “The investigation is ongoing.”

The two 18-year-old men were arrested shortly after an explosion was heard outside the city’s community center, which also houses a day school for Jewish children. The bullet-proof entrance door was smashed in the incident.

Police at first declined to define the attack as anti-Semitic, but eventually classified it as a hate crime.

In 2009, unidentified persons set off an explosive device outside the city’s synagogue. In the past few years, approximately 70 anti-Semitic incidents were reported annually in Malmö, a city whose population is 30 to 40 percent Muslim and whose Jewish community is a few hundred strong.

Malmö's mayor, Ilmar Reepalu, has equated Zionism to anti-Semitism, has said that the Jewish community had been infiltrated by extreme rightists and has advised Jews not to support Israel for their own safety.

The per capita prevalence of anti-Semitic incidents in Malmo is twice that of Stockholm, the capital.

There have been a number of marches to protest anti-Semitism in recent months, drawing both Jews and non-Jews and in one case, Reepalu.

Earlier this week, the Swedish Committee Against Antisemitism, an NGO, recognized with an award Siavosh Derakhti, a 21-year-old Muslim from Malmö who filmed an educational trip he had made to Auschwitz.

Derakhti has screened the video in Swedish schools in an effort to educate young Swedes about the Holocaust.

U.S. wins re-election to U.N. Human Rights Council


The United States succeeded on Monday in its bid for re-election to the 47-nation U.N. Human Rights Council, a Geneva-based watchdog that has been criticized by Washington and Israel for singling out the Jewish state for criticism.

The 193-nation U.N. General Assembly also elected 17 other countries for terms beginning in January. The United States won the most votes of the regional group “Western Europe and Others,” followed by Germany and Ireland.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice welcomed Washington's re-election, saying that the Human Rights Council “has delivered real results” since the United States first joined it in 2010 after running for a seat on it in 2009. She cited council action on Syria as a positive example of its work.

However, she criticized the rights council's “excessive and unbalanced focus on Israel.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed Rice's comments.

“We pledge to continue to work closely with the international community to address urgent and serious human rights concerns worldwide and to strengthen the (rights) council,” Clinton said in a statement.

The United States had boycotted the Human Rights Council until 2009, when the administration of President Barack Obama reversed U.S. policy and ran for a seat on the body in an effort to reform it from within.

Greece and Sweden failed to secure spots on the council in the “Western Europe and Others” category, the only regional group that had a competitive slate. Other regional groups had uncompetitive slates that assured victory for those in the running as there were enough seats for all candidates.

Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, and Sierra Leone were elected from Africa, and Japan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates from the Asia Group.

Estonia and Monte negro were elected from Eastern Europe, while Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela secured seats on behalf of the Latin America and Caribbean Group.

DUBIOUS RIGHTS RECORDS

New York-based Human Rights Watch criticized the vote, saying it fell far short of a bona fide election.

“To call the vote in the General Assembly an 'election' gives this process way too much credit,” said Peggy Hicks of Human Rights Watch. “Until there is real competition for seats in the Human Rights Council, its membership standards will remain more rhetoric than reality.”

Votes for seats on U.N. bodies, including the Security Council, often have uncontested regional slates.

Freedom House, a Washington-based rights watchdog, said that seven of the countries that secured seats on the council – Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, UAE, and Venezuela- are unqualified for membership on a body that requires members to uphold the highest standards regarding human rights.

Freedom House said that the qualifications of three other new members – Brazil, Kenya, and Sierra Leone – were questionable.

Earlier this year, Sudan had announced plans to run for a seat on the Human Rights Council but withdrew after it was criticized by rights groups. Khartoum instead secured a seat on the U.N. Economic and Social Council, one of the world body's principal organs, which coordinates economic and social issues.

Syria had attempted to run for a seat on the rights council last year but withdrew due to pressure from Western and Arab states. Syrian President Basher al-Assad's government, which has led a 20-month mil itary cam paign against an increasingly militarized opposition, plans to run for a rights council seat next year.

Rights advocates have successfully mounted similar campaigns against previous candidates for the Human Rights Council, including Belarus, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan and Iran.

Swedish flotilla ship heading for Gaza sails from Italy


A Swedish ship carrying human rights activists attempting to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza left from Italy.

The Estelle, carrying 17 activists from countries including Canada, Norway, Sweden, Israel  and the United States, sailed from the port at Naples on Saturday. The vessel, part of the Freedom Flotilla movement that included the ill-fated Mavi Marmara, reportedly is carrying humanitarian goods.

It will take about two weeks to reach Gaza's territorial waters, according to the French news agency AFP.

The Freedom Flotilla's first attempt to break the blockade ended in the deaths of nine Turkish activists after Israeli Navy commandos on May 31, 2010 boarded the Mavi Marmara, which claimed to be carrying humanitarian aid, after warning the ship not to sail into waters near the Gaza Strip in circumvention of Israel's naval blockade of the coastal strip.

A spokeswoman for the movement, Ann Ighe, told AFP that the Estelle “is a peaceful ship.”

The Estelle began its journey in Sweden and toured Europe, including Finland, France and Spain, before arriving last week in the Gulf of Naples.

Malmo police see no reason to call JCC attack a hate crime


Police in Malmo, Sweden, said they had “no indication” that a recent attack on the offices of the local Jewish community was a hate crime.

The police arrested and later released two 18-year-old men suspected of hurling a brick and a large firecracker at the entrance of the community’s offices on Sept. 28. The building sustained some damage but no one was hurt.

“The suspects never said or indicated they were perpetrating a hate crime,” Anders Lindell, a Malmo police officer and spokesman, told JTA. He added that the suspects denied any involvement in the attack. The investigation is ongoing, he said.

Willy Silberstein of the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism, a Stockholm-based NGO, told JTA that he found the decision “very strange.”

“When such incidents are not classified as hate crimes, it does not add to the credibility of government figures on anti-Semitism,” he said.

Sweden has approximately 20,000 Jews, according to the European Jewish Congress. Several hundred of them live in Malmo, according to Fredrik Sieradski, a spokesman for the Malmo Jewish congregation.

In 2011, The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention reported 190 anti-Semitic crimes in all of Sweden.