Swedes Protesting in Tel Aviv: “Don’t Treat Israel Differently”

In Sweden we have a saying that goes: Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder (There is no bad weather, only bad clothes). Because in a country where it rains and snows as frequently as it does in Sweden, we cannot let something like a bit of water falling from the sky get in the way of things.

So today, despite the pouring rain, a group of Swedes living in Israel, some Jewish and some not, gathered outside the Swedish Embassy in Tel Aviv, to protest against the Swedish government’s unfair treatment of Israel, especially in response to recent terror attacks.

The press release read:

“Swedes living in Israel protest in front of Swedish Embassy.
Don’t treat Israel differently.

Tel Aviv, December 18, 2015: Since September 14, 2015, 23 Israelis have been murdered by terrorist and dozens wounded and permanently maimed in more than a hundred incidents, many perpetrated by minors. Rather than condemn the terror against civilians, the Swedish Foreign Minister and the government of Sweden have shown an unparalleled level of understanding for the perpetrators and concern with the attackers rather than the victims. We, Swedes living in Israel, Jews and non-Jews, of a wide variety of political opinions, want to call the Swedish government to its senses. We, like every other civilian, have the right to walk in safety in our streets, travel on buses, shop in stores, wait at bus-stops, without fearing for our lives and the lives of our loved ones. The government of Sweden should condemn any acts of violence against civilians and make demands on the leadership that allows children to become terrorists. Does the government of Sweden not see that understanding the terrorists only encourages more terror?

We will meet outside the Swedish Embassy in Tel Aviv, Rechov Hashlosha 2, at 11.00 on Friday December 18, 2015 to express our anger, disappointment and pain and hand over a letter to the Ambassador to be forwarded to the government.”

Since I am Swedish myself, I saw it as my duty to attend the protest. So I dressed for the weather and headed over to the Embassy.

We weren’t a huge group of people who showed up, but hopefully enough to make our voice heard.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lately, the Swedish Foreign Minister, and the Swedish Prime Minister,  have made one comment after the other, which have been difficult to understand as anything other than unfair treatment of Israel. Their comments also often show a lack of knowledge and understanding for the situation in the Middle East.

I think the Swedish government needs to condemn all terror, and  recognize terrorism for what it is. Stabbing and running over civilians on the streets cannot be justified, and should not be encouraged, regardless of the circumstances.

I also think the Swedish government should be realistic in their critic towards Israel’s response to terror attacks. As I see it, there is no difference between an Israeli police shooting at someone who is stabbing and killing people, and the Swedish police shooting the guy who attacked and killed people with a sward in Trollhättan, Sweden, two months ago. In both cases, the goal is to prevent that more people get hurt or killed.

Furthermore, I think that the Swedish government needs to place demands on both sides equally, and not only on Israel. Sweden contributes with a lot of money to the Palestinians, and they also recognized Palestine as a state. They did this, they said, to be in a better position to place demands on the Palestinian leaders. So I’m just wondering, when will we start seeing these demands?

Personally, I am generally against pointing fingers and blaming others and each other, also when it comes to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. I believe there is good and bad, and right and wrong, on both sides, and I believe hatred and anger only fuels a conflict that already exists. Therefore, I always try my best to stay as objective as possible – not always succeeding, but still trying.

Even so, it seems clear to me, that for any form of peace to ever exist, there must first be some form of trust between the parties. Today, there is no trust, and Swedish government is not helping in that matter. Instead, it seems they are basically encouraging terror, if they are aware of it or not. And if they are not aware of it, then that’s just as big of a problem as if they are.

In all this, it is also important for me to point out that I love my home country Sweden. I believe that Swedes are generally good people, but with some rotten eggs like everywhere else in the world. I also believe that Sweden as a country is built on good values, values that I believe in, values of equality and tolerance. And because of this, it hurts me that all I hear about Sweden in the news lately are negative things. Especially in relation to Israel, the country which has become my second home, and where I have lived for the past six years. So on the basis of this, my personal message to Sweden is:

We can do better than this.