The new center-right Swedish government has announced that it would cover the majority of the rising security costs of the country’s Jewish institutions.
In a move aimed at sending a reassuring message to Sweden’s small Jewish community and a warning to Muslim radicals, the new Cabinet pledged to pay $424,000 of the community’s $707,000 security expenses. The proposal, expected to pass parliament next month, was rejected by the previous government, which was Social-Democratic..
“The co-financing is a symbol; it means the government is taking us seriously,” Anders Carlberg, head of the Gothenburg Jewish Community, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
In recent years, European Jews have complained frequently that leftist governments were failing to recognize the level of the threat posed to their communities by disgruntled Muslims, blaming what they described as the left’s natural inclination to view Arabs and Southeast Asians as victims of social inequalities. Even in such countries as France and Germany, where governments have traditionally footed the bill for drastic security measures, the intifada and the recent wave of Islamic terrorism have prompted pointed criticism of Socialist and Social-Democratic parties for their perceived blind spot regarding the unlawful behavior of disenfranchised Muslim immigrants.
As in most European countries, Islamists in Sweden are supplanting neo-Nazi groups as the primary threat to the Jewish community. In Scandinavia, tensions have further increased in recent months following the controversy created by the publication in a Danish newspaper of a caricature of Prophet Muhammad.
Right-wing politicians in Western Europe have been eager to capitalize on this perception to lure Jewish voters, and Sweden’s new government has quickly seized upon the Jewish community’s past criticism over the lack of financing of its security apparatus.
Last September, after more than a decade of Social-Democratic rule, a conservative political alliance led by the Moderate Party came to power in Sweden. For years, leaders of the Swedish Jewish community pressed the previous Socialist-led government to help with security.
Soon after the violent aftermath of the Danish cartoon uproar, four Swedish Jewish communal leaders published an opinion piece warning that the limits of what one can express in Sweden against Jews were being expanded gradually. They noted that Jewish institutions were spending 25% of their budget on security because of the increasing level of threats, and they accused the government of decreasing the public funds allocated for security. Among the signatories was Lena Posner-Korosi, president of the Central Jewish Council and of the Jewish Community of Stockholm, where most of Sweden’s 20,000 Jews live.
The Jewish leaders complained that at the beginning of this year, Goran Lambertz, then chancellor of justice, discontinued a preliminary investigation of Stockholm’s great mosque that was launched after antisemitic audiotapes were found in the mosque’s bookshop.
In several European countries, Jewish leaders have aired similar allegations regarding the perceived unwillingness of European governments to fully enforce hate-crimes legislation in order to appease Muslims.