Like many of their counterparts in other European cities, the Jews of Malmo report being subjected increasingly to threats, intimidation and actual violence as stand-ins for Israel.
An animosity that used to be associated with the far right is now coming, say Jews interviewed for the piece, from Muslims and 'from changing attitudes about Jews in the wider society'. Charles Small, director of the Yale University Initiative for the Study of Anti-Semitism, is quoted as saying that 'Sweden is a microcosm of contemporary anti-Semitism'.
The feature of this microcosm I want to focus on here is one I drew attention to in my earlier post. It is the thought expressed by the mayor of Malmo, Ilmar Reepalu, that this isn't 'naked' anti-Semitism but something else - because it's a response to Israeli policy in the Middle East. There's an echo of the same thought from Saeed Azams, Malmo's chief imam. He condemns acts of violence against Malmo's Jews and sponsors dialogue between the Muslim and Jewish communities. At the same time, while saying it's wrong to blame Sweden's Jews for Israeli actions or to equate them with Israel, Azams is reported as thinking that Sweden's Jews 'should not permit themselves to be seen as pro-Israel':
"Because Jewish society in Sweden does not condemn the clearly illegal actions of Israel," he said, "then ordinary people think the Jews here are allied to Israel, but this is not true."
I wonder if the imam is familiar with the elementary principle that in liberal societies people are entitled to think whatever they like - such as that Israel is a country they want to support - and to speak accordingly; or with the equally well-known and elementary principle that one's right to be free from violence and intimidation is not contingent on having attitudes approved of by others. This would be recognized immediately if, for instance, people who excuse terrorist attacks on Israelis, or indeed on anybody, started getting beaten up on the streets of Europe.
We must assume that the imam is in fact familiar with these principles given his condemnation of attacks on Jews and his refusal to blame Swedish Jewry for Israeli policy. But his implication that Swedish Jews should, for their own good, so to say, 'condemn the clearly illegal actions of Israel' sets up an insidious secondary discourse beneath what he says explicitly, one which suggests that, unlike other Swedes, Jews need to adopt attitudes to Israel enjoined by someone else. This is not a normal requirement in democratic polities.
As for the idea that anti-Semitism somehow ceases to be that, or fully or 'nakedly' that, if the attitude of hostility towards Jews which has manifested itself in Malmo can be traced to causes in the Middle East, and in particular to Israeli policy or actions, well, the simple answer is that it doesn't. Here is a brief, though imperfect, analogy. Should a gang of thugs in some English city physically attack or verbally abuse a black person and cite as the source of their hostile attitude towards their victim Robert Mugabe and the policies of his regime, their attitude and their action would be racist, nothing less, and recognized as such notwithstanding the pretext and the cause, whether real or alleged. The analogy is imperfect because black people at large don't form a diaspora vis-à-vis Zimbabwe in the way that Jews are thought to vis-à-vis Israel. But the analogy suffices for present purposes by showing that an explanatory cause (where it is that) of violence-inducing hatred towards members of a racial or ethnic group doesn't acquit those responsible for such violence-inducing hatred of their moral responsibility or make their hatred anything other than racist. This would, I contend, be straightforwardly acknowledged in relation to any other objects of racist hatred or violence than the Jews. That the acknowledgement is sometimes 'watered down' or evaded today in the greater tolerance towards the growth of anti-Semitism across polite European society deserves a name of its own. The name I would suggest for it is Loachism.
(For related matters in Germany, see this recent article in Spiegel Online.)