Oba­masends an­tisemitism tsar to Malmo

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BY NATHALIE ROTH­SCHILD

HAN­NAH ROSEN­THAL, Barack Obama’s spe­cial en­voy to mon­i­tor and combat an­tisemitism, has trav­elled to Malmö, Swe­den, for a closed-doors meet­ing with the city’s mayor who has been ac­cused of fo­ment­ing ha­tred of Jews.

Il­mar Reepalu re­cently told Swedish mag­a­zine Neo that the far-right Swe­den Demo­crat party has “in­fil­trated the Jewish com­mu­nity in or­der to push its ha­tred of Mus­lims”.

In Fe­bru­ary, the US Am­bas­sador to Swe­den, Mark Brzezin­ski, crit­i­cised Mr Reepalu at a meet­ing with the Jewish com­mu­nity.

Ms Rosen­thal also met rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the lo­cal Jewish com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing Chabad Rabbi Sh­neur Kes­sel­man, who says he has per­son­ally ex­pe­ri­enced around 90 an­ti­semitic in­ci­dents since mov­ing to Malmö seven years ago. He be­lieves Swedes with Mid­dle East­ern back­grounds are be­hind the as­saults.

“The US em­bassy has been mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion and it is wor­ried,” said Rabbi Kes­sel­man. “We did not ini­ti­ate the meet­ing with Ms Rosen­thal. She wanted to hear our story. We didn’t present any de­mands. This was about her get­ting a first-hand picture of the sit­u­a­tion.”

Mr Reepalu de­scribed his meet­ing with Ms Rosen­thal as “open-hearted”.

Lena Pos­ner-körösi, chair of the Jewish Com­mu­nity in Stock­holm, has called Mr Reepalu’s re­marks about the far-right a “con­spir­acy the­ory founded on pure an­tisemitism”. It was the lat­est in a se­ries of con­tro­ver­sial state­ments. In 2010, Mr Reepalu sug­gested that Malmö’s Jews could avoid an­ti­semitic at­tacks by con­demn­ing Is­rael’s ac­tions in Gaza and that they had sent “the wrong sig­nals” by hold­ing an Is­rael sol­i­dar­ity demon­stra­tion.

Last year, the Si­mon Wiesen­thal Cen­tre ac­cused Mr Reepalu of not do­ing enough to pro­tect Jewish cit­i­zens. Malmö had ex­pe­ri­enced a surge in an­ti­semitic crimes, rang­ing from ver­bal as­saults to the des­e­cra­tion of a shul.


US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama em­braces No­bel Lau­re­ate and sur­vivor Elie Wiesel ahead of a speech to com­mem­o­rate vic­tims of the Shoah at the Holo­caust Mu­se­u­min Washington DC this week

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