Tuesday, June 12, 2012

@sweden gives insight into Swedes views on Jews

So @sweden - the official Swedish twitter that switches 'Swedes' on a weekly basis and gives them free rein over the twitter channel made international news again today for comments @sweden made about Jews.

Apparently the current Sweden - Sonja, a twenty something mother of two - wondered about what a Jew actually is, how you tell someone is Jewish and what it really means in an exceedingly naive discussion that quickly blew up in her face.

What I like about it? I think Sonja's comments are not so off base for a lot of Swedes when it comes to Judaism. Here are some things I have heard Swedes say about Jews over the years:

My SFI teacher, to a Jewish student while we were having drinks at a bar "Oh, you are Jewish? I hate arabs too"

A lawyer I know "You cannot ignore the fact that when a Jew walks into a room, they carry a certain 'pondus' (a natural authority).

"Never trust a Dane or a Jew with your money," a former colleague.

"Don't be such a Jew" Some idiot trying to 'buy' a cigarette from me. They weren't my cigarettes, a friend left them on the table. I gave a randomly high price.

I have a lot of examples like this from people that I wouldn't consider 'anti-Semitic' or racist, but who really have maybe met one Jewish person in their lives. Combine this with a general dislike of the state of Israel, and you have a bit of insight into how, I think any way, many Swedes view Jews.

I am very happy @sweden made her bit of a public blunder. It is about time someone other than Ilmar Reepalu, the annoying Malmö mayor who walks a thin line of flirting with Muslim voters he for some reason seems to believe are highly anti-Semitic, and trying to insist that he never said anything like anything he is ever quoted as saying about the Jews.

I had actually planned to post a bit more about Reepalu in the future, but since @sweden piped up, had to start tackling the issue now.


  1. I don't know that I've met even one jew, ancestry is not very emphasized in sweden I don't think.

  2. One of the people I studied Swedish with was Israeli. I kind of wondered if the Muslims in the class and he had an awkward vibe, but it never occurred to me to think about the Swedes. Swedes don't like Israel? News to me. I know they don't know much about religion (ask them to explain their religious-based holidays! Hilarious!) Anyway pretty much all of my friends growing up were Jewish (in America).

    1. USA is just about the only country that still likes Israel, and probably more unformly so than the israelis themselves. Israel is comitting far too many war crimes to possibly excuse, and they have a bad habit of denying they've done something wrong by crying antisemitism, even when they know they actually did it.

  3. @No, ancestry isn't a big deal, but religion is a strange force here, and Judaism is a religion first and foremost, although it is coupled to many other things historically. I would imagine you have probably met a Jew here or there, but probably didn't know (a bit like @sweden's ponderings), since I think many Jews in Sweden tend to 'pass' (fit in and not call attention to themselves).

    In my experience, Israelis have tougher skin towards criticism of Israel than many American's I know - but it might be because my Israeli friends tend to be a bit critical of their government.

    @antropologa - interesting, I have met a few Israelis who are working here and often wonder what there experience is like. It was hard enough being an American and having to answer for everything George Bush did.

  4. #Sweden has recently been occupied by a group of odd, dirty feminist trolls appointed by an ad agency. They have views that don't correlate with Swedish mainstream views and they intentionally try and stir up shit. They are no more mainstream Swedes than Jersey Shore cast members or Howard Stern are typical Americans.

    Jews are a not a big deal here, never have been. Ethnic comments about Jews and other groups are far more unusual here than in USA. Also, comments here are, unlike in many other countries, usually made in good faith and without political agenda.