By Jacob Kamaras/JNS.org
The Islamic State terror group took credit for the coordinated attacks that killed at least 129 people in Paris last Friday, but the Mahmoud Abbas-led Palestinian factions as well as the Swedish government found a different scapegoat: Israel.
While Israel has long been accustomed to Palestinian media incitement and conspiracy theories, the Jewish state was particularly jarred by Monday’s rhetoric from Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström.
“Obviously, we have reason to be worried, not just in Sweden but across the world—because there are so many that are being radicalized. Here, once again, we are brought back to situations like the one in the Middle East, where not least, the Palestinians see that there is not a future. We must either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence,” Wallström said in a television interview.
In response to Wallström’s comments, Israel summoned Sweden’s ambassador to the Jewish state for an urgent meeting with Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General
Dr. Dore Gold, a Connecticut native, calling the Swedish minister’s remarks “brazen,” “shocking,” and “hostile.”
“During the conversation, Dr. Gold harshly criticized the hurtful remarks by the Swedish minister and said any connection between Islamic State terror and the Palestinian issue is baseless and that her comments may be interpreted as a justification of Palestinian terror,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry said of the meeting between Gold and Swedish Ambassador to Israel Carl Magnus Nesser.
The European Jewish Congress (EJC) also reacted with outrage. Calling Wallström’s comments “borderline racist,” EJC President Moshe Kantor said, “The problem is not so much that Israel is once again blamed for events that it played absolutely no role in,” he said in a statement, but that “if some in the West continuously ignore the true motivations behind these terrorist attacks, they will never be able to prevent the next one.”
Attempting to clarify what Wallström had said, the Swedish Foreign Ministry stated, “In the interview which is referred to, no implication or reference was made that implied that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had any relevance for the tragic events in Paris. We condemn all acts of terror. We must now unite as democracies to fight for our common values in these challenging times.”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry, however, stood by its argument that Wallström’s statement was “systematically biased and one-sided against Israel.”
That bias, many believe, reflects the views not just of Wallstrom but of Sweden as a whole. Seen as a strong supporter of the Palestinians, Sweden last October became the first Western European nation to officially recognize the state of Palestine. In February, the Palestinians opened an embassy in Stockholm, their first in Western Europe.
All this led Shurat HaDin, an Israeli law firm and advocacy group, to react to Wallström’s remarks by asking on Twitter, “Remind me again why we maintain diplomatic relations?”
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said that Wallström’s remarks “border on antisemitism.”
“The blatantly vile way in which she linked the attacks in France and [the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] was nothing less than a blood libel,” she said.
Not everyone, however, disagreed with the Swedish foreign ministers take on the attacks. Following Wallström’s lead, the chairman of the Dutch Socialist Party, Jan Marijnissen, also linked the massacre to Palestinian frustration, calling the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, “the growth medium for such an attack.”
Meanwhile, through traditional and social media, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Fatah faction—which are both led by Abbas—also blamed the Paris terror attacks on Israel.
Fatah on Monday posted two Israel-related conspiracy theory cartoons on its official Facebook page, according to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW). One of the cartoons showed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with an Islamic State terrorist near the Eiffel Tower; Netanyahu is pictured helping the terrorist aim his machine gun. In the other cartoon, two matches in a matchbox are labeled “Terrorism,” with the head of one match shaped as an Islamic State terrorist and the head of the other match as an Orthodox Jew.
An additional post on the Fatah Facebook page stated, “Terror is terror and we condemn all terror. Be it destroying houses in Nablus and killing our children by Israel or hitting a Russian plane over Egypt. The Paris attacks are criminal acts done by coward terrorists.”
PMW also reported that on Sunday, an op-ed published in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida—the PA’s official daily newspaper—stated regarding the Paris and Beirut attacks, “The wise and correct thing is to look for who benefits. In short: They need to search the last place reached by the octopus arms of the [Israeli] Mossad [spy agency]…It is clear that its ‘Mossad’ will burn Beirut and Paris in order to achieve Netanyahu’s goals. He, who challenged the master of the White House, hides in his soul enough evil to burn the world.” N
CAP: A cartoon posted on the Facebook page of the Palestinian Fatah faction that blames Israel and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for the Paris attacks. Credit: Palestinian Media Watch.