Several debaters have discussed Sweden's handling of the conflict between Israel and Hamas during the past week. Photo: Ninni Andersson/Governingskansliet.

Current debate

Week 44: Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in focus on the opinion pages

The war between Israel and Hamas continues and the debate in Sweden has been characterized by discussions about growing anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in the wake of the conflict. During the past week, large parts of the debate have been about how the conflict is handled by Swedish politicians and portrayed in the media.

Susanna Kirkegaard writes on Aftonbladet's editorial page that Sweden - and several other EU countries - did not vote for a high-profile UN resolution that contained writings about issuing a cease-fire and allowing humanitarian aid in Gaza. Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström (M) explains the action by saying that the resolution does not condemn the attack by Hamas that started the war or confirm Israel's right to defend itself. Kirkegaard, on the other hand, believes that Billström seems to have "checked out" from standing up for the rights of the Palestinians.

Other debaters believe that Swedish politicians overlook the vulnerability of Sweden's Jews, who in recent weeks have been exposed to threats and hatred in the wake of the conflict. Hanna Nir, chairman of the Jewish Youth Association in Sweden, and Petra Kahn Nord, Nordic representative of the World Jewish Congress, believe that several parties warned of a repeat of the 1930s and reminded that one must learn from the Holocaust during the last election campaign.

- Antisemitism should not only be condemned when it is convenient and suits one's own agenda, they write on Expressen's debate page.

In Dagens ETC says lead writer Andreas Gustavsson that the SD's anti-Semitism is now creating political disorder in the Tidö parties' politics regarding the war and its consequent effects in Sweden.

On a similar track say three researchers at DN debate that "many Swedes are blind to anti-Semitic messages" and how they are used as a bat in the debate surrounding the conflict in the Middle East.

Other debaters criticize the Swedish media reporting on the war between Israel and Hamas. Linnea Vallander and Yusra Imsheiel writes on ETC's discussion page that Swedish news reporting completely ignores a great asymmetry of power and deep injustice in the form of decades of occupation and apartheid on the part of Israel.

In other words, the polarization is still strong. However, several posts in the debate have also called for agreement on peace. Somar Al Naher says in an editorial that the phenomenon of "choosing sides" in the conflict and seeing it as a right/left issue is not viable in the long term for building a stable peace.

Bassem Nasr (MP) and Aron Boklund Tendler argues in a debate article in Sydsvenskan because Jews and Muslims in Sweden should unite against the violence that creates enormous suffering for both groups, regardless of religious, ethnic and political domicile.

- That racism against Jews and Muslims will gain ground is by no means obvious. There are alternatives, they write.

Sweden's handling of the conflict between Israel and Hamas

There is something vulnerable about Tobias Billström

Susanna Kirkegaard, editorial writer, Aftonbladet

Jews are abandoned when we no longer fit in

Hanna Nir, chairman of the Jewish Youth Association in Sweden (JUS); Petra Kahn Nord, Nordic representative of the World Jewish Congress (WJC)

Now the right wants us all to repress SD's chronic hatred of Jews

Andreas Gustavsson, editorial writer, Dagens ETC

Many Swedes are blind to anti-Semitic messages

Dominik Döllinger, lecturer in sociology at Örebro University; Christer Mattsson, docent in pedagogy at the Segerstedt Institute, University of Gothenburg; Pontus Rudberg, docent in history, Uppsala University

Are Palestinian lives worth less?

Linnea Vallander and Yusra Imsheiel, Dagens ETC

War is not a football match

Somar Al Naher, ETC.

We who are Jews and Muslims can make common cause against racism

Bassem Nasr (MP), Palestine activist and Muslim, Aron Boklund Tendler, Jew and friend of Israel, Sydsvenskan

I do not accept your demand for condemnation

Shora Esmailian, ETC

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