The Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström is now infamous around the globe for her statement on the complex situation between Israel and the Palestinians, in which she allowed herself to become the voice of Palestinian terrorists by saying ”We must either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence”. Her statement is very problematic and unfortunately not an exception.
The Swedish online newspaper Nyheter Idag this week also wrote about a recent conversation Wallström had with a woman confronting her about her statement on Palestinian terrorism. Wallström was told during the conversation that many people were upset by her words. The Swedish Foreign Minister replied ”the Jews are campaigning against me”.
She is wrong. The truth is that her Swedish citizens of various backgrounds are very upset with her statements regarding the Middle East and terrorism.
Here are some more:
”Does recognizing the state of Palestine indicate Islamophobia? Or does the continuous governmental support to Islamic communities in Sweden? Or the state’s contribution in financing Islamic non-governmental schools? Isn’t this proof of consideration and solidarity”
That is how Wallström begins her statement on solidarity and Islamophobia posted in Arabic on March 20th on the Swedish Foreign Ministry’s website. It reveals a new apparent reason why Sweden last year recognized the Palestinian Authority as the state of Palestine: to show solidarity with Islam.
In her statement Wallström goes on giving examples of how Sweden shows solidarity with the Muslim and Arab world by receiving refugees from Syria and Iraq as well as funding the building of a Palestinian state.
That Wallström begins her statement in solidarity with the Islamic world by mentioning the Swedish government’s recognition of Palestinian statehood indicates how much importance she thinks that the recognition has in the Islamic world. There is however nothing Islamic about the concept of Palestine as it is not even mentioned in the Quran. Wallström has even herself stated that it is important not to turn the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a religious conflict. Wallström is in fact doing exactly that by her statement.
If Wallström would have wanted to show how good Sweden is for Muslims she could have mentioned Sweden’s anti-discrimination laws and the freedom of religion in the Swedish democracy. But she didn’t. She chose to highlight the recognition of Palestinian statehood. If that recognition is in solidarity with Islam, is there also room for solidarity with Israelis and Jews?
Later in the spring during an interview in front of a live audience Wallström told the audience that Sweden has the same conditions for Hamas as the EU in order to remove it from its list of designated terror organizations.
Hamas wants to destroy the state of Israel and according to its charter the terror organization is against all peace negotiations and has declared war on all Jews. In the light of this, Wallström’s statement is out of touch with reality. Hamas, like ISIS can not be removed from lists of designated terror organizations. It can only be ostracized and fought.
According to the Arab news website Arabnyheter (Arab News), Wallström has answered a Palestinian journalist on his question regarding the Palestinians right to ”self-defence”, that every nation has the right to self-defence by all means. Wallström said that if the diplomatic ways to solve the conflict would fail, then armed efforts are legitimized, Arabnyheter reports. I contacted Wallström’s press secretary regarding this statement. He forwarded my questions to the Foreign Ministry, which has failed to properly refute the statement.
In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict such a statement is problematic as the concept of self-defence in the anti-Israeli Hamas and PA propaganda includes deliberately attacking Israeli civilians. Legitimizing armed efforts in this context means legitimizing terrorism.
All these statements are proofs of the Swedish Foreign Minister’s lack of understanding the Middle East and the forces and actions the Swedish government is motivating by its statements. The Swedish government claims it is pro peace and a two state solution. But it acts against Israel with the same rhetorical language as those powers in the Middle East that do not want peace nor for a Jewish state to exist.
There are many Swedish citizens who want the relations between Sweden and Israel to improve. Sweden and Israel has so much in common when it comes to our democratic core values and common challenges. We now even share the same existential threats from Islamist terrorists. We need strengthened ties between our two countries.
Sweden needs to learn from Israel in so many aspects. But I very much fear that as long as Wallström is in charge of the Foreign Ministry the relations between our countries will worsen. I and my organization, Perspective on Israel, encourage Swedish MPs to call for Wallström to resign from her office and for a new reformed foreign policy based on knowledge and common sense. That is what the Swedish people wants and needs.
Tobias Petersson is Chairman of Perspective on Israel (PPI) in Sweden.