Why Jews are leaving Malmo, Sweden...
We've blogged many times on Malmo.....
At some point, the shouts of “Heil Hitler” that often greeted Marcus Eilenberg as he walked to the 107-year-old Moorish-style synagogue in this port city forced the 32-year-old attorney to make a difficult, life-changing decision: Fearing for his family’s safety after repeated anti-Semitic incidents, Eilenberg reluctantly uprooted himself and his wife and two children, and moved to Israel in May.
Lone Rabbi: Shneur Kesselman, reading to his children, insists he won’t leave despite the dangers.
Sweden, a country long regarded as a model of tolerance, has, ironically, been a refuge for Eilenberg’s family. His paternal grandparents found a home in Malmo in 1945 after surviving the Holocaust. His wife’s parents came to Malmo from Poland in 1968 after the communist government there launched an anti-Semitic purge.
But as in many other cities across Europe, a rapidly growing Muslim population living in segregated conditions that seem to breed alienation has mixed toxically with the anger directed at Israeli policies and actions by those Muslims — and by many non-Muslims — to all but transform the lives of local Jews. Like many of their counterparts in other European cities, the Jews of Malmo report being subjected increasingly to threats, intimidation and actual violence as stand-ins for Israel.
“I didn’t want my small children to grow up in this environment,” Eilenberg said in a phone interview just before leaving Malmo. “It wouldn’t be fair to them to stay in Malmo.”
Malmo, Sweden’s third-largest city, with a population of roughly 293,900 but only 760 Jews, reached a turning point of sorts in January 2009, during Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. A small, mostly Jewish group held a demonstration that was billed as a peace rally but seen as a sign of support for Israel. This peaceful demonstration was cut short when the demonstrators were attacked by a much larger screaming mob of Muslims and Swedish leftists who threw bottles and firecrackers at them as police seemed unable to stop the mounting mayhem.
“I was very scared and upset at the same time,” recalled Jehoshua Kaufman, a Jewish community leader. “Scared because there were a lot of angry people facing us, shouting insults and throwing bottles and firecrackers at the same time. The sound was very loud. And I was angry because we really wanted to go through with this demonstration, and we weren’t allowed to finish it.”
Alan Widman, who is a strapping 6-foot-tall member of parliament and a non-Jewish member of the Liberal Party who represents Malmo, said simply, “I have never been so afraid in my life.”