Looking at Gaza Through Swedish Glasses

It is amazing to review how “enlightened” governments in Europe consider the situation in Gaza and Israel.

Firstly, how few governments understand and internalize simple facts:

  • Gaza was part-and-parcel of Palestine. That means that it was designated to be part of the Jewish homeland as outlined in international law in 1920 and the 1922 Palestine Mandate.
  • Gaza was seized and occupied by Egypt in 1948-9. Egypt made no attempt to establish Gaza as an independent Arab state while it administered the area. No international movement pressured Egypt to create such entity.
  • Gazans are not refugees. The Arabs from other parts of Palestine which became Israel in 1948 who moved to Gaza cannot be called “refugees,” but “internally-displaced people” who relocated to another part of the territory.
  • Gazans are independent. This is first time in history that the local Arabs in Gaza rule over themselves, since Israel uprooted every Israeli Jew – soldier and civilian – in 2005.
  • Gazans are ruled by their favorite terrorist group, Hamas. Hamas is designated as a terrorist group by much of the world including the United States, European Union and Israel. It calls for the destruction of Israel in its 1988 charter and was democratically elected to a majority of the Palestinian Parliament in 2006. It continues to lead in Palestinian polls should another election ever be held.
  • Egypt and Israel imposed the Gaza blockade because of Hamas. Israel and Egypt did not have any blockade of Gaza in 2005 when it gave the region independence. The countries established the blockade after Hamas routed the Palestinian Authority from the region in a mini- civil war between Hamas and Fatah in 2007.
  • Hamas launched three wars from Gaza in the past decade. In 2008, 2012 and 2014 the Palestinians in Gaza ratcheted up their attacks on Israel into full-blow wars.
  • The Palestinian attacks from Gaza have not stopped. In between each of the three wars, the Arabs in Gaza continued to attack Israel through incendiary devices, mortar shelling, sniper shots, tunnel infiltration and bombings.

These are plain historic facts which should not be subject to interpretation. Israel abandoned territory to which it had international and historic rights, to watch it be taken over by a group sworn to its destruction which battles against it constantly. You would imagine that such data points would inform how diplomats view the situation there.

But today, the European Union is a haven for Israel-bashers.

Consider Swedish Ambassador Olof Skoog’s address to the United Nations Security Council in May 2018 on the fighting between the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza and Israel. His comments showed an interesting perspective.


H.E Mr. Olof Skoog, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations and the President of the Security Council for the month of July 2018

Palestinians are protesting peacefully, so by definition, Israel is using disproportionate force:

  • Israel, as the occupying power, has a responsibility to protect Palestinian civilians and must fully respect the right to peaceful protest, protect civilians and ensure that the use of force, and other measures taken, are strictly proportional.”
  • “We urge the Israeli security forces to refrain from the use of force against unarmed civilian protestors and representatives of the media. We also call on Hamas, and those organising the demonstrations, to avoid any provocations and ensure that protests remain non-violent and peaceful.”

In such worldview, Israel is the party responsible for the people of Gaza and for the violence. Hamas is not responsible for Gaza; it organizes peaceful demonstrations.

Both sides use children as pawns:

  • We urge all parties to act with the utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life and to protect civilians, particularly children. This means never making children the target of violence as well as not putting children in harm’s way or encouraging them to participate in violence.

It is true that children are inherently innocent; the violence in which they engage is at the direction of adults. But how does one address a violent mob of thousands of children?

Israel should lift Gaza blockade:

  • we must not forget that the people of Gaza have lived in intolerable conditions for far too long, in a humanitarian situation that is now deteriorating even further. To tackle this situation and to enable Gaza to recover, movement and access restrictions must be eased.”

Even with the restrictions of goods, the Arabs of Gaza have amassed hundreds if not thousands of missiles and built additional underground tunnels into Israel, yet the Swedes want to ease the blockade?

Israel does not provide free access in Jerusalem to all religions:

  • “The position of Sweden and the whole European Union on the status of Jerusalem as a final status issue is clear and will not change. All three Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Islam and Christianity – have strong bonds to Jerusalem that must be preserved. A way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states, in line with relevant UN resolutions.”

Israel is the ONLY country that respects the three monotheistic faiths and allows all religions to worship in their holy locations. For centuries, the Arab Muslims forbade Jews from even climbing the steps of the Cave of the Jewish Patriarchs in Hebron! If the goal is freedom of access and respect for religions, then Jerusalem MUST remain the capital of Israel; to suggest otherwise is the inverse of reality and logic.

Western Jerusalem is not part of Israel:

  • In line with longstanding policy of the European Union, we will continue to respect the international consensus on the status of Jerusalem embodied in, among others, Security Council resolution 478, including on the location of diplomatic representations until the final status of Jerusalem is resolved.”
  • “As was stated in December last year, we regret the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It runs counter to international law and this Council’s resolutions.”

The United States relocated its embassy to Israel in the western part of Jerusalem. Has Sweden declared that even the Knesset is on disputed land?

Refusal to comprehend that Hamas seeks the destruction of Israel:

  • “There is unanimity around this table, I believe, in calls for restraint, for de-escalation, to break the cycle of violence, relieving the dire situation in Gaza and for a resumed serious negotiation towards peace.

How does a party negotiate peace with another party that seeks its destruction?

Pre-ordaining outcome of two-state solution including Jerusalem and no Jews:

  • “ We must, more than ever, urgently engage to bring the parties back to negotiations to advance the two-state solution. Intra-Palestinian reconciliation and the Palestinian Authority’s reestablishment in Gaza are also needed. A halt to settlements and an end to the ongoing Israeli occupation are fundamental.”

The Swedish diplomat claims to seek a two-state solution to be negotiated between the parties, but also demands the conclusion of such negotiation with “Jerusalem as the capital of both states” and a Palestine free of any Jews through halting Israeli “settlements.”


An address meant to quell violence in Gaza became a forum for the Swedish diplomat to dictate his desired outcome of a “negotiated” two-state solution. Skoog sanitized the Gaza protests as “peaceful,” and its intentions as noble.

With such a mindset, is it any wonder that Sweden became the first major EU country to recognize Palestine as a country. One can imagine it continuing to wage further diplomatic battles against Israel in the years ahead.


Related First.One.Through articles:

European Narrative over Facts

What’s Wrong with UNRWA

The Recognition Catch Up

J Street’s Select Appreciation of Transparency

What do you Recognize in the Palestinians?

Failing Negotiation 102: Europe

Denmark and Netherlands Support Ari Fuld’s Murder

The Happy and Smug Bigots of Denmark

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New York Times Finds Racism When it Wants

On January 3, 2015, the New York Times posted a large color picture on its front page about people in Sweden standing against a suspected arson attack on a mosque. The article on page A4 that continued onto page A9 described how anti-Muslim sentiment has taken hold in a country that had been known for its liberal immigration policy.

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New York Times cover about Attack on Mosque in Sweden

Anti-Muslim vs. Anti-Semitism

It is interesting to note how the paper highlighted the “anti-Muslim sentiment” in the title of the article after three suspected arson attacks against mosques in Sweden over the previous ten days. There were no witnesses and no arrests in the attacks but the Times drew its own conclusion that the fires must have been driven by “anti-Muslim” anger.

Compare that conclusion with the one at which the Times arrived in reviewing the actions in Europe during a week in July 2014. There were a dozen incidents involving thousands of people:

  • A synagogue was firebombed in Paris
  • Jewish stores including kosher butchers were looted and 18 people were arrested
  • A mob that gathered outside a synagogue with a hundred Jews trapped inside, shouted “Death to the Jews” and “Hitler was right”
  • In Belgium signs posted in store windows read “no Jews allowed”
  • In Berlin, an imam called for the murder of Jews
  • In Paris, a riot of 4000 people with weapons called for attacks on Jews; 70 were arrested
  • A Facebook page with the names and faces of Jews was posted with a call to attack the individuals who were later beaten
  • The leaders of several countries in Europe condemned the attacks as raw “anti-Semitism”

Despite the clarity of the attacks against Jews, in two separate articles the New York Times said those incidents had an “anti-Semitic tinge”. “TINGE” – meaning that the anti-Jewish sentiment was barely noticeable.

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The Invisible Cause

The Times article on Sweden did not highlight any Muslim actions that may have caused the Swedish “anti-Muslim” sentiment. It mentioned European “rising fear of Islamic radicalism” in a general manner, and mentioned the poor economic situation that recent immigrants find themselves in, and the generous benefits afforded by Sweden’s welfare economy. But the article sought to distance the economic strain on Swedish society by quoting a recent immigrant who stated: “We were not looking for food or benefits. We were looking for somewhere to feel safe.” Some stories neglected by the Times article:

Muslim riots: In 2013, various riots broke out in Sweden with Muslim immigrants burning cars and neighborhoods and throwing stones. Some of those events were covered by the Times. The paper referred to the rioters as “immigrants” throughout the article, and never mentioned their Islamic faith.

Explosion of Rape cases: Over the past decade, the number of reported rapes in Sweden has exploded. The country now ranks as the third highest country in terms of the number of rapes, as the frequency has jumped 250% between 2003 and 2010. While most of the world has seen reported cases of rape dropping or leveling out, the trend in Sweden has been alarming and the focus of much discussion and debate. Many people have attributed the dramatic spike as due to the influx of immigrants from the Middle East, Africa and southeast Asia where rape is much more common than western Europe. This piece of information was also not included in the Times article about Swedes becoming “anti-Muslim”.

Interestingly, in perhaps a related trend, a huge scandal broke in the summer of 2014 about 1400 girls in northern England who had been systematically raped by a gang of Pakistani Muslim men over 13 years. During its reporting of the story, the New York Times refused to publish that any of the attackers was Muslim and just referred to them as men with “Pakistani heritage”. Other media outlets did not exclude the common faith in their reporting.

It would appear that the New York Times deliberately avoids mentioning the religious background of Muslims when reporting crimes, but is quick to blame crimes against their community as “anti-Muslim”.

Conversely, in reporting the European riots protesting Israel, the New York Times seemed perplexed as to why Americans supported Israel while Europeans did not. It put forth an absurd idea that Americans supported Israel “because of the failure of the Arab Spring to spread democracy in the Middle East.” It ignored the actual evil actions and comments of the Palestinians that have been waging war against Israeli civilians for years. Once again, the Times absolved the Muslims of culpability. Regarding the riots in Europe against innocent Jewish citizens of their respective countries who were not Israelis, the Times dismissed the anti-Semitism as not noteworthy.

Racism and anti-religious feelings are indeed real.  The Times has shown that it is adept at finding or ignoring such sentiments as it fits the narrative they are selling.

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Sources:

Immigrant riots in Sweden: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/27/world/europe/swedens-riots-put-its-identity-in-question.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Rapes in Sweden: http://www.frontpagemag.com/2013/dgreenfield/1-in-4-swedish-women-will-be-raped-as-sexual-assaults-increase-500/

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=de1_1394099792

Global rape statistics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_statistics

Pat Condell on Sweden: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZsvdg1dkJ4

Related FirstOneThrough articles:

Anti-Semitic Tinge: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/an-anti-semitic-tinge/

NY Times calling “an anti-Semitic tinge” for a second time: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/07/27/tinge-two-idioms-for-idiots/

1400 girls raped in Britain, yet the NY Times refuses to point to the rapists as Muslims: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/the-ties-that-bind-and-those-unmentioned/

 

European Narrative over Facts

Sweden and the United Kingdom took steps to recognize a Palestinian State in October 2014. The assumed reason stated by pundits was to pressure Israel to move forward with peace talks. The only issue is that facts and reason do not support pressuring Israel.

Palestinians were last polled at the end of September 2014 and Israelis in June.  Regarding a two state solution:

  • 53% of Palestinians support a two-state solution, 46% oppose it
  • 60% of Israelis support a two-state solution with only 32% opposed

That means that the Palestinians are much more against a two state solution than the Israelis (who favor it by almost a 2-to-1 margin).

What about using negotiations versus force?

  • For the Palestinians, 63% believe Hamas’ armed approach should be used in West Bank
  • 55% of Palestinians would vote for the anti-Semitic Hamas party which wants to destroy Israel, if presidential elections were held now
  • (The use force is not about attacking the Israeli army but all Israelis: the same percentage – 54% – were in favor of the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers who were hitchhiking home from school)
  • Among Israelis, 60% would return to the negotiating table today

So the Palestinians clearly prefer the use of force while the Israelis prefer negotiations.

So who actually needs pressure to advance in peace talks, Israelis or Palestinians?


Sources:

Palestinian poll: http://www.pcpsr.org/en/node/496

Israeli poll: http://en.idi.org.il/tools-and-data/guttman-center-for-surveys/the-peace-index/

Israeli poll: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-peace-conference/1.601996

FirstOneThrough on UK’s blind spot: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/no-disappearing-in-the-land-of-blind/