Jewish Woman's Asylum Request Brings Attention to Anti-Semitism in Sweden

Annika Hernroth-Rothstein Makes Point With 'Absurd' Plea

Annika Hernroth-Rothstein (in white coat) at a pro-Israel demonstration on Nov. 22, 2012 in Stockholm.
JTA
Annika Hernroth-Rothstein (in white coat) at a pro-Israel demonstration on Nov. 22, 2012 in Stockholm.

By JTA

Published November 21, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

With an asylum application to her own homeland, Annika Hernroth-Rothstein was hoping to draw attention to the problem of anti-Semitism in Sweden.

Hernroth-Rothstein acknowledges the bid is “absurd” – but it’s working, having garnered international media coverage and stirring debate.

“EU statutes provide that asylum be granted to persons with ‘well-founded reasons to fear persecution due to race; nationality; religious or political beliefs; gender; sexual orientation; or affiliation to a particular social group,’ ” she wrote in Nov. 17 essay in Mosaic Magazine, a U.S.-based Jewish online publication where she first announced her bid. “Jews in Sweden meet these criteria, and should be eligible for the same protection and support extended to non-natives.”

Hernroth-Rothstein’s media stunt has garnered coverage in leading Swedish media outlets and Jewish publications around the world. Yet as of Wednesday, one party seemed oblivious to her request: the Swedish Migration Board, the government body responsible for processing the applications of asylum seekers.

“I haven’t heard of any case like that,” Katarzyna Zebrowska, the board’s press officer, told JTA. “She may have left a form behind at our office, but that doesn’t make her an applicant.”

Zebrowska explained that the board cannot process applications by Swedish nationals under Swedish law, which defines asylum as a residence permit granted to foreign refugees.

Hernroth-Rothstein, 32, a well-known activist for Israel and against anti-Semitism, acknowledged to JTA that her request – which she said she delivered in person to the board’s offices – in all likelihood would not be processed as an official application.

In explaining her action, Hernroth-Rothstein has cited initiatives to further limit circumcision in Sweden (only licensed circumcisers may perform the procedure, though the country’s Jewish community finds the arrangement acceptable); Sweden’s ban on animal slaughter without stunning, which effectively prohibits kosher slaughter; and anti-Semitic crimes and harassment.

“I have two sons, and I have to choose between giving them a strong, positive Jewish identity and keeping them safe, and I don’t see that as a choice that we should have to make,” she said in an interview with Sweden Radio.

A spokesman for the Council of Jewish Communities in Sweden told JTA that the organization had no comment on Hernroth-Rothstein’s asylum request. But another Swedish Jewish activist criticized the move.

“I think it’s an overreaction that is also exploitative of the real need of asylum seekers in this country,” said Marc Harris, a law student who is a former president of Limmud Stockholm and former chairman of the Synagogue Committee at Stockholm’s Great Synagogue.“We need to be vigilant of the real threat of anti-Semitism and we can’t exaggerate it.”

Sweden, he added, does have an anti-Semitism problem, “but it is not swept under the carpet; the media are already very aware of it. We need to watch out we’re not just crying wolf and spreading fear.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.