Saskia Pantell, Vice Chair of the Zionist Federation of Sweden, praised to pro-Israel sentiment expressed at a rally this week. "We cannot allow politicians in Sweden to avoid the problem any longer," Pantell stated. "We need to speak up and say what is really going on."
She spoke to Arutz Sheva - Israel National Radio on the Tamar Yonah Show about the event.
Part of the impetus of the rally were controversial comments made by the mayor of Malmo, Sweden against Zionism. Controversy also hit the city during the annual Eurovison song contest in March when the chairman of Malmo municipality’s Culture Committee asserted that Israel should be excluded from the event.
For the full mp3 interview click here.
"Anti-Zionism is Antisemitism," Pantell explained, stating that Judeophobic comments are being "disguised as merely being critical of Israel."
She said that while the turnout to the event, held in Stockholm, was very good, and there were no anti-Israeli counter protesters, not a single Swedish media outlet came to cover the event.
"It's hard to find fair media reporting about Israel," she stated. "You have to admit the problem and make an attempt at a pro-active solution and fully understand that, of course, Zionism should be a given. It is Jewish self-governance and it's a human right. Sweden is known for standing up for human rights and democracy. There something wrong when the general population doesn't understand what Zionism is."
Also at the rally was Irish filmmaker Nicky Larkin who spoke about his personal journey in becoming a supporter of Israel. "It was interesting to hear about how somebody changed," Pantel said. "Hopefully it will inspire people to question the media, visit Israel, and see it with their own eyes." Pantell said the event ended with the singing of Israeli songs, dancing and waving Israeli flags.
Approximately 500 people attended, and thousands more saw it streamed live on video on iZionist, a web portal run by the World Zionist Organizations. Yaakov Hagoel, the head of the WZO's Department for Activities in Israel and Countering Anti-Semitism, stated that "the situation in Sweden needs to be addressed and we are working together with the local community to support them." Eitan Ori Behar of the WZO helped organize the event in conjunction with the Zionist Federation of Sweden, and other groups led by local activists Anna Berg, Kim Milrell, Amnon Lee Israeli, Hanna Zion and the Stop the Boycott organization.
Pantell hopes for more positive events in the future. She has also organized "Kippah Walks," explaining, "it started in Malmo with people of all types walking in solidarity to make it common to the Swedish eye to see people wearing a kippah."
To listen to the full interview download the podcast by clicking here.
Tamar Yonah discusses Israeli politics and current events live every Sunday from 3:00pm - 5:00pm Israel time and on Monday and Tuesday from 9 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Israel time on www.IsraelNationalRadio.com. For archived shows, visit the Tamar Yonah page and visit her award winning blog.