Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Breaking News

Right-Wing Leaders Say Israel Smeared Colleague as Neo-Nazi

The organizer of a Jerusalem conference for political conservatives said he is bewildered by an Israeli foreign ministry decision to shut out a Swedish participant on the assumption that her party has “neo-Nazi tendencies.”

“It seems that there was poor research done by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” said Joel Anand Samy, co-founder of the International Leaders Summit, which convened its second annual conference this week in Jerusalem. Leaders from conservative parties worldwide attended, including Becky Norton Dunlop, a senior member of Donald Trump’s presidential transition team.

The incident began when Israel’s foreign ministry disinvited European Parliament representative Kristina Winberg of the Sweden Democrats party from a meeting scheduled with conference participants and Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely. The ministry explained it was because Winberg’s party was affiliated with neo-Nazi elements. In response, all the conservative leaders boycotted the meeting with Hotovely.

“We felt that it is important to go as a group and not to leave behind an important member of the group,” Anand Samy told the Forward, noting that participants were “shocked and surprised” to hear the claim that Winberg’s party is anti-Semitic. He noted that Sweden Democrats have a Jewish member of parliament and hold pro-Israel views.

Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked also cancelled her speech at the conference because of Winberg’s participation.

Some members of the group met informally with Hotovely and told her they were dismayed over the decision to exclude Winberg.

Anand Samy blamed outdated information and faulty research by the Israeli foreign ministry for the categorization of the Swedish party as having “neo-Nazi tendencies.” He argued that while the Sweden Democrats “may have had an unsavory history,” it has since changed and has purged Neo-Nazi elements from its ranks.

“Israel needs allies and friends in Europe, in the United States, in India and everywhere around the world and it is important to discern who are your friends,” he added.

Sweden Democrats began as a fringe group with neo-Nazi roots but has in recent years renounced that past, embracing a far-right anti-immigration platform.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emanuel Nahshon said his office examined the issue in depth and consulted with the Israeli embassy in Stockholm before making the decision. He rejected the claim that Sweden Democrat party is no longer affiliated with white supremacists. “Our decision is clear,” he said. “Not every cosmetic change is a real change.”

Contact Nathan Guttman at [email protected]


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.