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'What's the Fuzz with Jews' Tweet Taints Swedish Campaign

A campaign designed to promote tourism in Sweden has stirred controversy after a woman posted derogatory comments about Jews.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 6/13/2012, 10:28 PM

Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm, Sweden
Israel news photo: Flash 90

A campaign designed to promote tourism in Sweden has stirred controversy after a woman who briefly took over the country’s official Twitter account Tuesday posted derogatory comments about Jews.

The @Sweden account is run by a different citizen every week, in an attempt to showcase Sweden’s diverse population, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

This week, Sonja Abrahamsson, who describes herself as a "low educated" single mother of two from Goteborg, sparked outrage when she provocatively asked what makes a Jew a Jew, and used crude language.

"What's the fuzz with Jews" she asked in one tweet, suggesting that it is difficult to tell Jews apart from other people and then went on to joke about Jewish circumcision.

"In Nazi German(y) they even had to sew stars on their sleeves. If they didn't, they could never (k)now who was a Jew and who was not a Jew," read another tweet.

She also asked whether the Nazis sought to find the difference in the Jewish religion, or whether it was a "blood-thing" for them.

In response to the incendiary comments, one tweeter wrote "in one day @sweden went from global Twitter superstar to PR embarrassment."

Another suggested the Swedish chef from the Muppet show might as well assume control over the account, while others defended Abrahamsson's courage to speak her mind.

Abrahamsson apologized for her remarks, adding that she did not mean to offend anyone.  "I just don't get why some people hate Jews so much," she said.

Maria Ziv, marketing director at Visit Sweden, a Public Relations agency that set up the project, said the Twitter account would not be shut down simply because some people had been offended.

If Abrahamsson's comments had been racist "we would have taken them down," she said.

As of Tuesday, the @Sweden account had 34,500 followers and almost 20,000 tweets, noted the AP.

Jonathan Tobin of Commentary Magazine suggests that, “perhaps the country should take this as an opportunity to have a discussion about Sweden’s Jewish community and Swedish anti-Semitism.”

“How has a country that was once known for being a safe harbor for Jews fallen this low?” he asks.

“Instead of demanding an apology and moving forward, Sweden and the tweeter in question should evaluate why the tweets were so offensive and how this mother of two and other ‘typical Swedes’ could learn about Jews both in Sweden and beyond,” Tobin asserts.