Hate crimes against Jews in Sweden rose to a national high, jumping a chilling 53 percent higher than in 2016, the last time the government issued the same crime report.
The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, which began collecting date in 2006, reported 280 anti-Semitic hate crimes in 2018 compared to 182 in 2016.
Overall, the number of hate crimes rose by 69 percent, but anti-Semitic motives represented the largest increase from 2016. Anti-Semitic attacks accounted for 4 percent of all hate crimes, while the Jewish population of 20,000 comprises merely 0.2 percent of the nation’s population.
“It’s more or less the same situation all over Sweden,” said Amnon Tsubari, a dual Israeli-Swedish citizen. “The attacks are disturbing, shocking, but not surprising.”
“There is a growing tendency, encouraged by some officials, to bundle Jews and Israel together, and then pretend opposition in Sweden is about Israel, Zionism — not Jews.”
One voice of reason in Europe is being heard, however. Karoline Edtstadler said the entire continent must do more to protect the Jewish community.
“In front of every synagogue, every Jewish school — anywhere where Jewish life takes place — there should at least be the awareness of the police, and depending on the risk assessment there also has to be the presence of the police [so that it] can act if there’s an attack,” said the new head of the working group on anti-Semitism in the European Parliament.
“Unfortunately, there is a pressing need for this,” she noted. “We can argue about whether police presence in front of synagogues is good or bad, but it’s clearly a necessity.”
Edtstadler, a former deputy interior minister in Austria, told the Times of Israel that Brussels should support Israel — the only democracy in the Middle East.
“There are three kinds of anti-Semitism: the old-fashioned kind, a new imported one and anti-Zionism. It took a long time before people dared speaking about the imported anti-Semitism, but it’s a fact,” Edtstadler said, referring to immigrant communities. “Anti-Zionism, which targets Israel, is the most difficult one, because you have to be well-educated to find out about it. We can never stop fighting anti-Semitism. It will exist forever.”
Anti-Semitic rally in Sweden, photo via The Israel Project Flickr CC