Malmo, Sweden – Jews Reluctantly Abandon City Amid Growing Anti Semitism

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    Lone Rabbi: Shneur Kesselman, reading to his children, insists he won’t leave despite the dangers.Malmo, Sweden – 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.

    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.”

    The demonstrators were eventually evacuated by the police, who were not present in sufficient numbers to protect their rally. But some participants complained that the police’s crowd-control dogs remained muzzled.

    The Eilenbergs are not particularly religious, but they have a strong Jewish identity and felt unable to live in Malmo as Jews after this episode. Eilenberg said he knows at least 15 other Jewish families that are thinking about moving away.

    Anti-Semitism in Europe has historically been associated with the far right, but the Jews interviewed for this article say that the threat in Sweden now comes from Muslims and from changing attitudes about Jews in the wider society.

    Read the full story at The Forward

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    28 COMMENTS

      • Oh thanks for this comment. I just returned from an extended visit to Israel, and as a US native, have never experienced, even remotely close, the hatred and anti semitism from secular Israelis, as I experienced over there.
        I was in Eilat in a gas station filling up and when I went into pay there were 2 teenage girls behind the counter, literally verbal abusing me, I was so shocked I couldn’t respond at first, then they asked, aren’t there gas stations in jerusalem or Bnei brak, I responded, I wouldn’t know I’m from the USA, they immediately changed their tone and asked how it was there so I said its great, cuz we don’t have jew hating sluts working in gas stations.
        This was a benign encounter.
        Jews should move out of Israel before they get hurt.

      • Oh thanks for this comment. I just returned from an extended visit to Israel, and as a US native, have never experienced, even remotely close, the hatred and anti semitism from secular Israelis, as I experienced over there.
        I was in Eilat in a gas station filling up and when I went into pay there were 2 teenage girls behind the counter, literally verbal abusing me, I was so shocked I couldn’t respond at first, then they asked, aren’t there gas stations in jerusalem or Bnei brak, I responded, I wouldn’t know I’m from the USA, they immediately changed their tone and asked how it was there so I said its great, cuz we don’t have jew hating sluts working in gas stations.
        This was a benign encounter.
        Jews should move out of Israel before they get hurt.

      • Oh thanks for this comment. I just returned from an extended visit to Israel, and as a US native, have never experienced, even remotely close, the hatred and anti semitism from secular Israelis, as I experienced over there.
        I was in Eilat in a gas station filling up and when I went into pay there were 2 teenage girls behind the counter, literally verbal abusing me, I was so shocked I couldn’t respond at first, then they asked, aren’t there gas stations in jerusalem or Bnei brak, I responded, I wouldn’t know I’m from the USA, they immediately changed their tone and asked how it was there so I said its great, cuz we don’t have jew hating sluts working in gas stations.
        This was a benign encounter.
        Jews should move out of Israel before they get hurt.

      • how could you say something like this? there is no tradition of anti Semitism in the US. American soldiers liberated camps and this country took us in and tolerates our foibles. you ruined my Monday.
        PS- G-d help the Jews of Europe (and everywhere beyond North America and Israel).

    1. “But Azams also downplayed the seriousness of the problem, saying there were “not more than 100 people, most under 18 years old,” who engage in violence and belong to street gangs.“There are some things I can’t control,” he said. “

      He’s mamash one of the gedolim.

      • Maybe not all chabadniks are driven to do everything they do by the desire for good PR like you. Maybe some are concerned with kavod shomayim and not kavod chabad.

      • if you click on the link to the Forward, it mentions it there.
        Actually, I don’t think it’s the best thing for him to be singled out… may Hashem protect us all, with moshiach’s complete arrival now!

    2. The fact is that during the war Jews from Danemark found safe haven in Sweden and Raoul Wallenberg saved Jews. The sad fact is that Europe has a long history of antisemitism of which most of you are very ignorant but have betuchen that you can walk in Sweden like mea shearim with the tzitzis in draussen and peyes and beard. It is the false assumption which makes life dangerous in Europe

    3. Rabbi Shneur Kesselman is endangering his own children by remaining. That’s a form of child abuse. Yes, we Jews need to stand up to anti-Semitism. However, it is easier and smarter to do so in a larger community, like NYC, LA, Toronto, etc. Europe is dead for the Jews. Jews need to leave there and move to Israel or North American. And within those larger communities, fight anti-Semitism worldwide.

    4. The Satmar Rebbe Ztzl. said that a time will come that the exsistence the
      the State of Israel will endanger Jews all over the world.
      Sweden became a dangerous place for Jews since ’09 during the
      Gaza campaign. Isn’t this telling us, and don’t we see that all over the
      world, Anti semitism is rekindled every time Isreal is involved in some
      kind of military action???
      He always said that we should pray that the state of Israel should disintergrate
      with Rachamim and Rachmonas, because only then will Moshiach come.

      • With all due respect, I hope and pray the Satmar Rebbe Ztzl is wrong on this one. Should the State of Israel disintegrate c”v the Holocaust will seem like child’s play in comparison of what’s to come c”v from Israel’s enemies. Suffice it to say that no further details needed to elaborate on this. I sincerely hope and pray that we as a Jewish nation and people, regardless of religious affiliation, will never need such a tragic calamity to befall us in order to merit the advent of Moshiach.

      • The Muslim-Leftist alliance that caused the explosion in Anti-Semitism in Sweden started ramping up in the mid 70s with the help of Soviet propaganda.

        Laying down and going silently to the showers isn’t going to take away anti-Semitism. Unfortunately the existence of Jew hatred before 1948 undermines the Satmar rebbe’s point.

        • That is nonsense. First, ALL of you need to accept the emes that you’re not qualified to argue on the heiliger Rebbe from Satmar zt”l or any other Rebbe. The Satmar Rebbe knew hatred of Jews didn’t begin in 1948, he himself sat in Auschwitz. The point is the state is an issur d’oraisoh and *does indeed cause* bad things to happen upstairs and down here in this world. As someone living in Eretz Yisroel, I can tell you with certainty the Zionists yimach shmam v’zichram have taken away oilom habo from more Jews than the Nazis y”s ever did.

          The maamarim on these topics are beautiful, incredible scholarly proofs. If you’re not a talmid chochom you will have trouble (as I do) getting through the sefer. It would do every Jew well to sit down with a chavrusa or rov and learn sefer Vayoel Moshe.

          • For all the Satmarer Rebbe’s lomdus, his views are a da’as yochid. To pasken from 2 lines of agadeta in the gemara that the 3 oaths are halacha lema’aseh is wrong, just like meshichstim pasken from 2 lines of agadeta that the moshiach can come from the dead. Anything that a chasidishe rebbe says that’s not backed up by traditional poskim is not for the rest of the yidden. If you’ll note, many litvishe poskim were opposed to the medina, like the chazon ish, rav shach, etc, and they were focused on the anti-torah character of the state, not midroshim here and there.

          • Sorry, but if you or the Satmar Rebbe zatzal are arguing that anti-Semitism has increased since 1948 you’re (both) wrong. More Jews have not been killed since 1948 then before the founding of the state. If you want to argue a Torah point that’s one thing, but you’re attempting to base your argument on demonstrably incorrect facts.

            It’s also a little disingenuous for you to sit in Israel and benefit from the Zionists and then claim they’re a spiritual danger and have killed more people than they’ve helped. If that’s the case, there’ s no reason to remain hiding behind them.

    5. “The Satmar Rebbe Ztzl. said that a time will come that the exsistence [sic] the
      the [sic] State of Israel will endanger Jews all over the world.”

      No, rather the sheer existence of Jews endangers the lives of Jews all over the world. We suffered for 2000 YEARS through vicious Christian anti-Semitism. There was no state of Israel to blame it on, yet they hated us to the nth degree and killed us when they could. The Muslims? Those stupid, unwashed, uneducated, stubborn little people who love to live at the corner of Irate and Insane are so backwater, they prefer to be led by tyrants, dictators and killers and wouldn’t know democracy, freedom, tolerance, justice, equal rights for women etc. if it bit them on their bottoms.

      Stop blaming Israel for Muslim anti-Semitism. The Muslims have hated Jews since the inception of Islam, and Muhammad, may his name be erased, killed many Jews after promising them safety. This is Yishmoel we’re dealing with, and it goes back further, and deeper, than 60-100 years ago. It goes back to Avraham saying, “Lu Yishmoel yichye lifonecha.” It goes back to Sarah aggravating Hagar. Learn some real Torah, man, and you’ll see the truth.

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