On anti-semitism, criticizing Israel and Netanyahu – and blaming Jews and Muslims

By Gunnar Westberg

The following question was asked to the ambassador of Israel to Sweden in one of the most respected programs on the Swedish Broadcasting (Sveriges Radio): “Do the Jews themselves carry any responsibility for the anti-Semitism we now see growing?”. (Translated by me from its official website). The ambassador refused to answer.

At the end of the program the responsible editor expressed a profound apology: “We wholeheartedly apologize for the question. It leads in the wrong direction and puts the guilt on individuals and unexposed groups”. The section was cut from the program recording although the original is stored in a public archive.

It seems like almost everyone in the media world agrees with this apology: “You should not ask such a question.” I agree. But we should ask “Does Israel carry any responsibility for the growing anti-Semitism?”

We hear all the time “the Muslims must take a clear stand against the (Muslim) fundamentalists”. If we accept that argument we should also say that the Jews in Europe should take a clear stand against Netanyahu and the war crimes committed by Israel. That is rarely said and should not be. The Jews abroad are not responsible for the policy of the Israeli government. Muslims here are not responsible for ISIS.

Lars Vilks, the artist who tries to be as blasphemous as possible against the Prophet, the cartoonist Westergaard, the Danish Jylland-Posten which published the Muhammed caricatures and the Charlie Hebdo magazine should not be prevented from saying and doing what they do. But I do criticize them for their stupidity and lack of respect for what is dear and holy to other people.

I admit that it is often difficult to say were to draw the line. Lars Vilks has crossed mine. But freedom of expression requires that even such ugly anti-Islamic products as those of Vilks should be allowed to exist. I can just turn my back to them and to him.

The question raised in the mentioned radio program was poorly formulated and I do not understand why an experienced journalist did not formulate it differently. But it should not be censored. Many Jews in this country (Sweden), who courageously take a stand against the settlement policy of Israel, find the question highly relevant.

When our media treat Muslims and Jews with different standards of justice, some young Muslims finally become outraged and starts to read the web pages of ISIS.

But they are – we all are, everyone of us – responsible for what we do.

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