US/World News

Three arrested in firebomb attack on Swedish synagogue

(JTA) – Three people were arrested in connection with a firebomb attack on a synagogue in Gothenburg in southern Sweden. The arrests were made early Sunday morning, hours after more than a dozen men hurled firebombs at the synagogue and locals marched in the city against the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. No one was injured in the Saturday night attack, which occurred while the synagogue was hosting a youth group program. The Swedish Prosecution Authority announced the arrests, but no information was provided about the identities or motives of the people taken in. On Saturday, protestors against the Jerusalem decision burned an Israeli flag in Stockholm. A day earlier, in Malmo, antisemitic slogans were shouted at a demonstration against the decision.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom on Sunday condemned the attack and calls for violence against Jews. The Jerusalem-based Simon Wiesenthal Center on Sunday in a statement denounced authorities in Sweden for their “serial refusal to act against antisemitism.” Invoking the Saturday night attack against the synagogue in Gothenberg, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the center’s associate dean, said in the statement: “what more will it take for this democracy to finally deploy the full weight of their law enforcement and judicial powers against antisemites and provide full protection for its Jewish citizens?”

Dvir Maoz, the World Bnei Akiva youth movement’s emissary in Gothenburg, told JTA that the attack happened a little after 10 p.m. while youths from the local Jewish community were attending a party inside the synagogue complex. Looking outside from inside the synagogue lobby area, he said he saw in the corner of his eye “a ball of fire” approaching the building. “The guards saw it in the security cameras and called police right away. The children were stressed, it was the first time they had ever experienced a terrorist attack near them.”

“It is unconscionable that Jews are under attack on the streets of Europe, whether by terrorists hurling Molotov cocktails or openly and brazenly calling for the mass murder of Jews in Malmo, Vienna and Paris,” European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor said in a statement. “We call on European governments to take strong punitive action against those who perpetrated these acts and call for the immediate arrest of anyone who makes anyone making murderous chants.” At other protest rallies about Jerusalem in Austria. France and Malmo, Sweden, participants chanted, respectively, in Arabic about an ancient massacre of Jews, freedom for Palestinian terrorists and shooting Jews.

Swedish Justice Minister Morgan Johansson wrote on Twitter: “[I]t is horrendous … to invoke violence against Jews,” and vowed to prosecute identifiable offenders.

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