Letter to Stefan Löfven
Dear Prime Minister Löfven,
The World Jewish Congress, representing 100 Jewish communities worldwide, views with great concern the closure of the Jewish community center in Umeå, following repeated neo-Nazi threats and vandalism spanning recent years. This worrying development leads to a reality where there is no organized Jewish presence north of Uppsala – representing more than two-thirds of Sweden’s geographical area. In Sweden today, this is not an isolated threat. Across the country, we are witnessing an escalating pattern of violence and increased signs of anti-Semitism. We urge your government to take firm action to protect the Jewish community, including allocating funds and police resources, as well as effective legislation, to safeguard the Swedish Jewish citizens and their institutions.
On my visit to Sweden last November, I met with the national police commissioner, the minister of justice, and the minister of democracy to express these concerns, on behalf of the World Jewish Congress and our local affiliate, Judiska Centralrådet i Sverige. It is not only the community in Umeå that has been threated. Last September, the growing neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR) staged a demonstration in Gothenburg, to pass by the local synagogue on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. Just two months later, the same synagogue was targeted by a firebomb, and a similar attack was waged against a Jewish chapel in Malmö.
Approximately one quarter of all Jewish community membership fees are directly allocated towards security, on top of the thousands of volunteer-hours required. These are funds and hours that could otherwise be allocated towards essential educational efforts and programming for community members of all ages.
The Jewish community has repeatedly expressed a need for a significant increase in police presence around Jewish buildings in Sweden, particularly at the Jewish school in Stockholm at the beginning and end of the day. Finally, there is a need to implement effective legislation to provide the Swedish police with sufficient mandate to ban or severely limit the activities and marches of the movements on the extreme right, such as NMR, especially in proximity of the Jewish institutions. It is my sincere hope that the government, under your leadership, carries out the necessary measures, as outlined above, to safeguard the rights of the Jewish national minority group in Sweden. The WJC remains at your service to further discuss this crucial topic, together with representatives of the local communities.