Two recent incidents in Sweden are representative of the trend. Our Swedish correspondent CB has translated some material about these incidents, and includes his own commentary.
Concerning the first article, CB comments:
This is an article from Helsingborgs Dagblad about a director who quit his work on a play about a Jew in a Nazi concentration camp. The reason he quit was his inability to highlight 60-year-old injustices when Palestinians are being “massacred” and “slaughtered” in Gaza. It’s once again a downplaying of the Holocaust, justified by the Gaza war. It’s like one of the editorials in the big conservative newspaper Svenska Dagbladet said about the story from Luleå and the priest: “Just for once, tell us what you really mean!” I think this is a serious statement this director makes: Equating the Holocaust with non-specified injustices. How could 6 million dead Jews, a planned killing by the Nazis to exterminate an entire people, constitute a 60-year-old injustice?
The translation of the Helsingborgs Dagblad article:
The Gaza war provoked defection
The war in Gaza made the director Björn Melin discontinue his work on the play “If this is a human being” at Helsingborgs stadsteater, witch is scheduled for a February 5 premiere. The directorial position is assumed by the part-time theatre manager Göran Stangertz and the actor Michalis Koutsogiannakis.
The Lars Norén play is about the Italian Jew Primo Levi’s experiences in a Nazi concentration camp.
Björn Melin appreciates the text, but says to Helsingborgs Dagblad that he can’t cultivate 60-year-old injustices.
“Primo Levi’s history is true. But I’m getting so upset that I become sick when I see Palestinians being massacred in Gaza. It’s pure slaughter.”
In Melander’s view, the Western world is subjected to a very biased view of the conflict. When the war broke out in Gaza it became to much for him and he quit.
According to the newspaper, everyone at the theatre respects his decision.
The second article concerns the cancellation of a Holocaust remembrance ceremony in the city of Luleå because of the recent events in Gaza. CB has translated this report from Dagen:
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Commemoration service for the victims of the Holocaust is cancelled
Both the torchlight procession and commemoration service on the day of Holocaust Remembrance Day this coming Tuesday in Luleå have been cancelled. The reason is Israel’s attack on Gaza. The diocesan priest Bo Nordin says it seems uncomfortable and inappropriate to have a commemoration service for the victims of the Holocaust when the Gaza war has upset so many people.
Miriam Mozel Öström is Jewish and lives in Luleå. She is upset over the decision. What has the Gaza war to do with the Holocaust, she asks.
“We will provide an alternative torchlight procession on the day of commemoration of the Holocaust. I have been in contact with various people who are happy to participate in the procession. We also hope to be able to end the commemoration with a speech,” says Miriam Mozel Öström to Dagen.se.
The torchlight procession and the commemoration service has been a yearly joint event by the municipal immigration service and The Lutheran Church of Sweden [former state church]. The municipal immigration service also claimed that the reason on their part for cancelling the march is a fear of counter-demonstrations.
“How can they fear holding a peaceful torchlight procession in memory of the Holocaust?” says Miriam Mozel Öström.
Bo Nordin means that the Gaza events have created both sorrow and indignation.
“These two large and sad events, the Holocaust and the Gaza war, have a hard time coexisting on good terms,” he says to Radio Norrbotten.
He uses words such as “uncomfortable” and “inappropriate” when he explains why it’s not fitting to commemorate the Holocaust at this time.
Bo Nordin says there will be a torchlight procession and commemoration service as usual next year.
“We are all ready planning it. And we won’t cancel, no matter what happens.”
To answer the question of whether the Holocaust and Gaza war are two separate things, Bo Nordin says:
“Yes, the Holocaust is something entirely different. But there are some associations that can be viewed as offensive. What happens in Gaza now dampens the spirit of the commemoration and it simply feels uncomfortable to do it now,” says assistant vicar Bo Nordin.
Miriam Mozel Öström says this is caving in to the anti-Semitic winds that are blowing strongly at the present.
“The Holocaust took place before the founding of the state of Israel. The victims were dead before the state of Israel was founded, therefore the connection to Gaza is incomprehensible.”
CB adds this commentary:
I think this article is worth commenting on. It’s part of the anti-Semitic trend in society today, in Sweden and elsewhere — and often enough in churches. It’s not that surprising, I’m sad to say, to hear anti-Semitic statements from the Lutheran Church, and it’s a growing trend.
The thing to note is the blatant equation of the Holocaust with the Gaza war. A war that has cost 500 to 1300 lives. That is apparently as bad as the planned and meticulously executed extermination of an entire race of people, with 6 million victims. That is how deep he’s sunk and how far this man has removed himself from a humane stance. I say that he is a disgrace to the Christian church. But history and the present show him to be in league with plenty of people.
Another thing about this horrendous equation is the fact that Israel’s actions came after years of bombardments of its civilians and as a defense of those civilians, and with caution to minimize civilian casualties among the Palestinians. The Nazis, on the other hand, did their best to kill any and all Jews. The Jewish state asks pardon for the dead Palestinians; the Nazis and their supporters asked pardon of Hitler for not being able to kill more Jews. Among those supporters are many Hamas members, the same Hamas that targets Israeli civilians.
So, Bo Nordin is right: The Holocaust and Gaza war have a hard time being on good terms with each other. But not in the way he figures.
In addition he says there will be a procession next year, no mater what! My question is, why not this year then? Or does Israel’s action not matter during the rest of 2009? When was the last time a government got a carte blanche like that?
My praise goes out to Miriam Mozel Öström and all those participating in this year’s commemoration. Just one question: Is it really worth the effort to do next year’s commemoration with a diocese that has such a low view of decency?