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Twenty-First Century Crusades?

                                                Story 22
                      Prediction 3:
An increase in anti-Semitism.

Arab and Muslim Anti-Semitism in Sweden
Jewish Political Studies Review 17:3-4 (Fall 2005)

Mikael Tossavainen, JCPA

Anti-Semitism is perceived as a minor problem in Sweden, restricted to marginal neo-Nazi and other extreme-Right groups. Anti-Jewish ferment among parts of the country's Arab and Muslim population is largely denied and ignored. Nevertheless, the phenomenon exists and manifests itself among some Arab and Muslim pupils in suburban schools, on Muslim websites in Swedish, and in attacks on Jews and their institutions. This anti-Semitism has its roots in the Middle East, where it is widespread in the countries of origin of many Arab and Muslim immigrants in Sweden and reaches them through various channels such as satellite television and the Internet. The exclusion of many Arabs and Muslims from Swedish society fosters the spread of anti-Semitism in the segregated suburbs of the major cities. The situation calls for seriously addressing these groups' problem of alienation.

In the wake of the breakdown of the Oslo process and the renewed intifada, a wave of anti-Semitic violence has swept over Europe. Most attention has been paid to the arsons and other violent attacks in France and other countries such as Germany and Belgium. But Swedish Jewry, too, has felt this phenomenon.

Swedish Jewry seems, however, to have been the only segment of society not just to be affected by the violence, but also to notice it. In the country at large, the tendency of growing Arab and Muslim anti-Semitism has been almost completely ignored, and to this day most Swedes are unaware of the anti-Jewish sentiments among immigrants from Arab and Muslim countries and their descendants. Judging even by Swedish public discourse over the past decades, anti-Semitism no longer belongs exclusively to neo-Nazis on the extreme Right. Yet Swedes have been socialized into treating anti-Semitism as a branch of racism among ultranationalist groups, and anti-Semitism among other sectors - such as the extreme Left, Arabs, and Muslims - is mostly unknown.1

Moreover, in some cases Arab and Muslim anti-Semitism has been denied. For instance, the journalist and bestselling author Jan Guillou has used his column in Sweden's largest newspaper, the Social Democratic Aftonbladet, to argue that while anti-Semitism used to be a problem in Swedish society, any talk of it in today's Sweden is only a strategy to build sympathy for Israel and an indirect defense of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.2

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