(JTA) – Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said he would visit Malmo to discuss chants to “crush Zionism” made at a rally by supporters of his party. The incident on a May 1 march for workers’ rights by the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League – a branch of Lofven’s party – prompted an outcry by Malmo’s Jewish community, whose members are often targeted with antisemitic attacks involving anti-Israel sentiment. The TV4 channel this week aired an item profiling Salomea, a young Jewish woman from Malmo, who spoke about living in fear in the heavily Muslim city. Her sister, she said, was assaulted at the age of 12 in a soccer field because she is Jewish.
Leading the rally was the former mayor of Malmo, Ilmar Reepalu. He has blamed the rise in antisemitism on Jews and advised them to distance themselves from Israel to remain safe during his tenure, which ended in 2013. Hannah Rosenthal, a former U.S. special envoy for combating antisemitism, said Reepalu’s words were a prime example of “new antisemitism,” wherein anti-Israel sentiment serves as a guise for hatred of Jews.
Following an outcry over the May 1 rally, Electra Ververidis, the head of the Social Democrats youth movement, apologized for “offending the Jewish congregation,” and pledged not to chant about crushing Zionism in the future.
Aron Verstandig, president of the Council of Swedish Jewish Communities, called Lofven’s visit “an important sign.”