”The world loves Israel.” That was my summary of what Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy claimed last spring, when an article by him in which he demanded that the Israeli ”war crimes” in Gaza would be investigated, was also published in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter (swedish). Levy is among other things known for his strong criticism of the so-called ”occupation”. Read my blogging here (swedish).
Today a new article (swedish), critical toward Israel by the said Levy, is published in the other major Swedish newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet, under the heading: ”Bad, Aftonbladet – miserable, Israel”, with regard to Donald Bostrom’s article in Aftonbladet and the reactions by the Israeli government.
The most miserable, according to Levy, is the Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman’s handling of the situation: ”When the Israeli government is completely helpless in its defense of the occupation, with all the suffering that it causes daily million Palestinians, the only way is to attack the critics.” This, he writes, have caused a damage which ”will remain very long.”
A third part in this affair which Levy curiously ignores in his argument is the Swedish government. We can all probably agree that damage has been done. Has the Swedish government no role in the injury?
In hindsight is always easy to be wise, but the question remain as to whether Lieberman would have had reason to (over)react if the Swedish government hade endorsed the statement made by Ambassador Borsiin Bonnier, instead of distancing themselves from it. It’s actually our government that Lieberman’s anger is primarily directed against and not Bostrom’s article.
Some lawyers, most recently, the Chancellor of Justice (JK), has also rejected the Swedish Prime Minister’s assertion (swedish) that it would be a crime against the constitution if the government would pronounce an opinion.
I reproduce an article by Swedish news agency TT which – for some reason – was very difficult to find on the internet:
JK: Legal if ministers want to criticize the article
The government can go much further in its criticism of the article in Aftonbladet without violating the Constitution, according to the Chancellor of Justice, JK.
– It’s not quite clear where the boundaries are. There is a lot we can do under the Constitution, though it would still be regarded as politically and legally inappropriate, said the Chancellor Göran Lambertz, who is the state
lawyer and prosecutor in cases of freedom of the press.
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt have during the diplomatic quarrel with Israel over the Aftonbladet article about organs repeatedly made clear that the Constitution forbids them to condemn the newspaper. Both have tried to express understanding for the Israeli outrage, without transgressing any limit.
But ministers could go much further in their criticism, if they so wish, without breaking the law. The threat is more political.
– That was just the case with the Mohammed cartoons and [former social democrat foreign minister] Laila Freivalds behavior. It really was not any doubt that it was legal, but it was seen by KU [parliamentary committe on constitutional issues] as clearly inappropriate, he says.
Freivalds lost the job as foreign minister since she ordered her
employees to warn a web hosting company for the risks of allowing [swedish political party] Sverigedemokraterna’s online magazine to publish the cartoons.
But there is still a space left to exploit, according to Lambertz. A minister can safely say that ”we have no reason to believe this”, he says, but it would be to go over the limit to critizise the decision to publish.
When Prime Minister Reinfeldt said that the law forbids the government to have an opinion on the content of Bostrom’s article, it seems, therefore, if one would follow Lambertz’ line of reasoning, that the prime minister for political reasons took hiding behind the law.
What are these political reasons?
Sweden, as the incumbent presiding nation of the EU has, in a statement joined in the U.S. criticism of the Jewish settlements in the ”West Bank” and East Jerusalem – but it has not expressed any criticism of the Arab settlements in East Jerusalem, a city where the Arab share of the population moreover, increases.
If the purpose of this criticism of Israel is to put pressure on Israel, such pressure would certainly be reduced if the Swedish government should in any however small way meet the Israeli demands. Lieberman’s reaction then can be explained as an attempt precisely to reduce this pressure.
But why should we put pressure on Israel? At a time when almost all the political movements that the PLO is made up of – not least Fatah led by Mahmoud Abbas – aims to eradicate Israel by means of an aggressive war, the greatest pressure should be put on them to repent. Aggressive war is prohibited under international law. Israel, just like every other country has an unconditional right to exist.
In this situation to put pressure on Israel to pull back from east Jerusalem and the West Bank, is only playing those anti-Zionist, and in many respects even anti-Semitic, forces in the hands. Israel has already pulled back from Gaza to be rewarded with nothing except Kassam rockets.
Unfortunately, it is probably too much to ask of the Swedish government that it should singlehandedly venture on a alleingang in this issue. Sweden belongs to the EU. But a small hint that the Swedish Government at least can – and dares to! – criticize unjustified criticism of Israel would have been becoming.
Ambassador Borsiin Bonnier’s statement was in this context both courageous and balanced. But it was deleted. What remains thus is only Swedish criticism of Israeli government.
Läs även andra bloggares åsikter om PLO, Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas, Israel, Palestine, West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, antisionism, antisemitism, Gideon Levy, Donald Boström, Elisabet Borsiin Bonnier, Carl Bildt, Fredrik Reinfeldt, Avigdor Lieberman, Swedish government, Chancellor of Justice, Göran Lambertz, Aftonbladet