General Antisemitism

Why is a Swedish Jew filing for political asylum in her own country?

Last year we had the pleasure of interviewing a Swedish Jew (and Zionist activist) named Annika Hernroth-Rothstein, who recounted her experiences living in a country plagued by a dangerous rise in antisemitism.

Annika Hernroth-Rothstein speaks at a pro-Israel rally in Stockholm, September 2012. Courtesy Black on White.

Annika Hernroth-Rothstein speaks at a pro-Israel rally in Stockholm 2012. Courtesy Black on White.

As the recent poll on European antisemitism by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) confirmed, the already precarious situation for Sweden’s Jews has taken a turn for the worse, and Hernroth-Rothstein’s latest essay at Mosaic Magazine serves as an important personal story to add detail and nuance to the FRA data.

She writes:

Here in Stockholm this fall, we in the Jewish community have enjoyed our 21st annual Jewish film festival, a klezmer concert, and a number of other cultural diversions. I choose the word “diversions” advisedly. It’s thanks to such entertainments that so many of my fellow Jews can allow themselves to say that we’re doing okay here—that there’s no need to rock the boat or cause trouble.

But you know what? We are not okay, and this is not okay.

Kosher slaughter has been outlawed in my country since 1937, and a bill is now pending in parliament that would ban even the import and serving of kosher meat. Circumcision, another pillar of the Jewish faith, is likewise under threat. In my job as a political adviser to a Swedish party, I have dealt with two bills on this issue in the past year alone; a national ban is rapidly gaining political support in the parliament and among the Swedish public. When it comes to our religious traditions, those on both the Right and Left in Swedish politics find common ground; they take pride in defending both animals and children from the likes of us, and from what one politician has called our “barbaric practices.” 

Later, she provides a more personal glimpse into life for Swedish Jews.

In today’s Sweden, home to all of 20,000 Jews amidst a national population of some nine million, the public display of Jewish identity, like donning a kippah or wearing a Star of David pendant, puts an individual at severe risk of verbal harassment and, even worse, physical harm. Synagogues are so heavily guarded that Jewish tourists are turned away if they try to attend services unannounced. Inside the sanctuary, we celebrate our festivals and holy days under police protection. On the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah, during the five-minute walk to the water for the ceremony of tashlikh, my young son asked a guard why so many policemen were accompanying us. Replied the officer: “so that no bad people can hurt you.”

This is the self-image—the reality—that Jewish children in Sweden grow up with: being Jewish means being under threat of harm from bad people. This is where we are at.

You can read the rest of Hernroth-Rothstein’s story and learn why she is filing for political asylum in her own country, here.

We also encourage you to read her passionate letter titled ‘How to survive as a Jew in Sweden? Shut up and fade into the woodwork‘.

For context on the situation in Sweden, you can read CST commentaries on the FRA poll about European antisemitism here, here, here and here.

17 replies »

  1. I know it is bad in Sweden but i am sure everywhere in the world Jews who go to synagogue and other cultural events have to be pretty heavily guarded. It is certainly the case in the UK especially over Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah.

    • Richard. Calm down.
      Not a single armed guard in our synagogue routine gatherings.
      Not once in the past 5 years.

      Not sure why you say it is the case in the UK.

  2. Surely a line must be drawn between the old blanket ban on ritual slaughter and proposals to ban the circumcision of male infants on the one hand and physical assaults and other specific attacks on Jews.

    they take pride in defending both animals and children from the likes of us
    Why did CiFWatch choose to highlight this bit?

    But as richardmillett says: it’s obviously shocking that Jews still run risk of repercussions for visually (or otherwise) identifying as such on the streets – and not just in Sweden.

    • @pretzelberg, (and some general remakrs on the topic)
      totally agree that the ban on ritual slaughter comes into a completely different category than danger to one’s life or health just because one is Jewish.

      While it is possible for even the most observant of orthodox Jews to live without meat from ritually slaughtered animals without having to compromise on kosher standards, as a balanced vegetarien or pescetarian diet is kosher and provides all the required nutrients, it isn’t possible to liove well under the constant threats of physical assault.

      Though intereestingly I’ve read an interview with a (or the) conservative rabbi of Stockholm who says that he always wear his kippa, his baseline was that Malmö is a hellhole ripe with antisemitism, it is ok to live as a Jew in Stockholm.

      The problem in Malmö (where antisemtism is apparently the worst) is that the local politicians don’t care about it. And because Malmö has a high proportion of muslim immigrants (who are most often behind the attacks on Jews) their vote has far more weight than the Jewish vote. So the local politicians won’t do anything about the problem.

      Politicians on the national level may not see the problem as “their” problem because there are local politicians who can be approached, they may not be very familiar with the situation in the problem cities etc.
      So unfortunately I can’t see a way that problem is going to be resolves very soon (the aggrivating factor is that Swedish politicians tend to be rather politically correct and so they’ll avoid identifying the largest propertion of offenders for fear of being labelled “racist”)

      • Actually my main point re. bans on ritual slaughter and (possibly in future) circumcision is that they apply to Muslims too, of course.

        Hence my query re. “they take pride in defending both animals and children from the likes of us”.
        – Who exactly is “us” here?
        – Why did CiFW highlight this part of the quote?

  3. At the risk of posting the same post a dozen times and to misquote Camara

    when I condemned the rise in anti-Semitism I was called a saint when I asked if the rise was linked to Israel and the perception that she is flouting world opinion and international law I was called an anti semite.

    • The rise is linked to the spreading of anti-Semitism, by Islamists, leftists, right extremists and media, and the mainstream is listening to them.
      The concept of mainstreaming anti-Semitism by instrumentalising Israel, portraying perpetrators as victims and minimizing Islamism has succeeded.
      Durban, Jerusalem and New York 2001.

  4. This article is one of the strongest arguments for the existence of Israel that I have ever read. At least Sweden’s Jews know they have a safe haven.

    Meanwhile, Sweden and its socialist government will pay the price for allowing Islamization to run rampant. Sweden is already the rape capital of Europe, and I shall relish seeing the Swedish Nazis, Socialists and Islamists tear each other to pieces in the coming years.

  5. Sweden will soon be a Muslim ”wonderland”, Sweden supported Nazi German throughout the second world war playing the ”neutral” card. No Jewish people should stay in this disgraceful excuse for a democracy. Sweden deserves, and will soon get Islamised. It thoroughly deserves its sharia future,that is, a permanent,vegetative, retarded ‘third world’ caliphate, cowering before its Mulsim masters..

    • How is this work?
      No Kosher slaughtered meat means the same thing about Halal slaughtered meat.
      Muslim also circumcise their boys.
      You are talking out of your back side Steve.