The galus mentalityTwo leaders of Sweden's Jewish community - Lena Posner of Stockholm and Anders Carlberg of Gothenburg - have taken the Israeli government to task for blowing the Aftonbladet blood libel out of proportion.
According to Lena Posner, head of the Jewish community in Stockholm and president of the Official Council of Jewish Communities in Sweden, "Israel caused all this mess."This is what I refer to as the galus (exile) mentality. The galus mentality believes that if we ignore the vile hatred around us, maybe it will go away. Many Israelis are incapable of ignoring the hatred around them - perhaps because they have too much pride because they do not (and in many cases have not) lived in the galus. Who is right? I believe it's up to the victim of an attack to decide how to respond.
Posner told Ynet, "The article was published here on Monday, but no one paid any attention to it. It wasn't a news report and was buried in the back pages of a tabloid. The writer is known to many of us as anti-Israel, and so it the entire paper. This is why no one took it seriously – until Israel got involved."
On Thursday, when the affair appeared to be fading, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman released a statement comparing the Swedish government's silence over the article to its conduct during the Holocaust.Keep pretending Ms. Posner. How far is Malmo from Stockholm? 320 miles or 514 kilometers. Not so far. Have you been to Malmo? This took place outside a Davis Cup tennis match in Malmo in March.
"He and others have become experts on Sweden, claiming that this is an anti-Semitic country," said Posner. "With all due respect, they are not experts and are completely wrong. They may have an interest, but we are the ones living here with this situation. It's not so bad. The atmosphere is indeed anti-Israel, but many countries criticize Israel's activity. Bringing up the Holocaust every time is definitely unhelpful to us."
Let's go to the videotape.
Yes, I know Ms. Posner. That was Israel's fault. If they had just forfeited the match instead of showing up to play it, there never would have been any riots. That's what a good galus Jew is supposed to do, isn't it? Cower before the goyim (non-Jews) by not showing up.
How about this video? Does this look familiar? It's the central square in Malmo. It's a pro-Israel demonstration that took place in February during Operation Cast Lead, and you're about to see some of your nice Swedish neighbors shoot a rocket into the middle of the demonstration.
Let's go to the videotape.
Yes, I know, that was Israel's fault too. We should have kept absorbing those 'Palestinian' rockets that were making life unbearable for our kids so as not to upset your poor Swedish neighbors. Of course. What? What you say? Those aren't 'real Swedes' - they're Muslims - as opposed to the nice people from Aftonbladet who are 'real Swedes.' Funny, the Aftonbladet Swedes don't make that distinction. There's not a single political party in your country that's willing to discuss the issue of Muslim immigration. If you're still in Sweden in 2o years, you will probably be living in a Muslim country. Will they be 'real Swedes' then?
Still think your country isn't anti-Semitic? Go here and read a short list I've compiled of anti-Semitic incidents in Sweden in the last five years. Yes, there have
Due to Israel's handling of the affair, Posner added, the focus of the discourse has shifted away from criticizing Israel's conduct in Gaza to defending freedom of expression.Actually, I think it's a good thing that we're now discussing 'freedom of expression' rather than a blood libel. Otherwise, your neighbors might still be trying to convince themselves that the blood libel is true. The blood libel is so false and despicable that it's not worthy of discussion.
"What is happening now is that the issue is no longer the organs, but whether the prime minister the prime minister and Lieberman are even entitled to intervene in the freedom of expression. In Sweden, like in Israel, freedom of expression is sacred. Everyone in Sweden cannot understand how Israel dares to interfere."
And your Swedish neighbors have some very distorted ideas of what 'freedom of expression' means. 'Freedom of expression' means that you can say whatever you want but you had better be ready to back it up with facts or face the consequences. Yes, there are consequences to making false statements in public. There are laws in nearly every civilized country that deal with libel and slander. What Aftonbladet published last week is both of the above.
By the way, here in Israel, no one would argue that 'freedom of expression' means that the government cannot criticize slanders in the media. Just yesterday, our Education Minister, Gidon Sa'ar, slammed Ben Gurion University professor Neve Gordon for an article Gordon wrote in the Los Angeles Times last Friday. The article called for an international boycott of Israel. Is Gordon free to write whatever he wants? Absolutely. Is Sa'ar entitled to criticize him for it? Just as absolutely. Don't buy into the lie that Carl Bildt would be impinging on 'freedom of expression' if he were to criticize Aftonbladet. That's the galus mentality again - if we're quiet about it, it will go away. It doesn't work.
Anders Carlberg, head of Gothenburg's Jewish community, agrees that the Israeli demand that the Swedish government intervene in the publication was unhelpful.No, Mr. Carlberg. Issues dealing with 'freedom of expression' are always political. That's why America's founding fathers included them as the very first item in the Bill of Rights. We here in Israel don't have a constitution or a Bill of Rights, and because of that freedom of expression is sometimes unfairly limited here - particularly in the political arena. But freedom of expression is definitely not above politics and I'm happy that our politicians are taking the lead in lambasting the blood libel that was published by Aftonbladet.
"News stands are now full of articles on freedom of expression following this affair," he said. "In most countries of the Western world, issues dealing with freedom of expression are above politics, and therefore, I don't think Israel's demand for a condemnation will be answered. I understand Jerusalem's response, but the matter has definitely been blown out of proportions."
Will we get a condemnation from the Swedish government? I doubt it. But I continue to believe that we should not discuss any other issue with them until we do. If Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt thinks he's going to come here and talk about the 'Palestinians' next week without issuing a condemnation of Aftonbladet, he's smoking some pretty strong dope.
Finally, it's not for you to decide whether we've blown the matter out of proportion. You weren't the ones attacked - we were.