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  KD MAGAZINE! 
Posted:
May 10, 2006 - יום רביעי, י"ב באייר, תשס"ו
 
 
 

Swedish Sensibilities
Rabbi Shea Hecht
About the Author

Sweden withdrew from an international air force exercise in Italy this week due to the fact that units from  Israel’s Air Force will participate. Originally, Sweden agreed to send eight jet fighters to the Volcanex 2006 exercise.

Though not mentioning the Jewish State by name, Sweden’s Defense Minister Leni Bjorklund said that her country was withdrawing its participation due to the fact that "the Swedish Armed Forces were notified at a late stage that a state not belonging to the Partnership for Peace, and with which Sweden did not previously have bilateral military cooperation, and which does not take part in international peacekeeping missions was to take part in the air exercise." 

Foreign Ministry spokesman Christian Karlsson said the aim of the drill was to prepare for future cooperation in international peacekeeping operations, but added that "the participation of the Israeli Air Force has changed the prerequisites of the exercise." 

Additionally, a Swedish official told Israel Radio that Israel was not currently advancing peace and was therefore not fit to take part in the exercise. 

The excuse the Swedish give for not joining Volcanex because the Israelis are partaking even though they do not belong to Partnership for Peace, does not play out historically. Last year’s Volcanex exercises included England which is also not a member of the Partnership for Peace, yet the Swedish partook happily. 

What I find even more interesting is that in an attempt to appear even handed on Middle Eastern issues, the Swedish originally said they will also deny entry visas to members of the Hamas terror group. Yet, in this very same week Sweden, has given a visa to Palestinian Refugee Affairs Minister and Hamas member Atef Edwane, who visited  Sweden to attend a conference on exiled Palestinians. How interesting that according to the Swedish government, granting visas to members of a known terror group is something acceptable, while allowing a country to gain expertise to protect its citizens by participating in a training exercise, is something that must be protested. 

I’m also wondering what the Hamas have been doing to advance the peace. Surely the bombs they use to blow up innocent civilians are not meant to advance peace! 

And perhaps Swedish officials would like to share with us what Israel can do to be considered as advancing peace.  The Israeli’s own a tiny piece of land in the vast expanse of the Middle East. For many years the Israeli’s have tried to secure their porous borders for their own safety. Israelis have been forced to bury those who have died through violence and terror more times than one can count.  Their tiny piece of land has been coveted and fought over like it’s the only piece of land left in the world that has any value. Would the Swedish officials feel comfortable partaking in the exercise if the Israeli’s just lay down and die and allow the Arab countries to take away their homeland? Israel is one of the first countries to offer aid whenever there is a national emergency anywhere in the world. Although they’ve been turned down numerous times by various different countries, they still offer their help. Is this not considered advancing the cause of peace? Ironically, their ability and experience to help foreign countries during times of emergency stems from their experience after being attacked and bombed by the likes of Hamas and other terror groups. 

MK Zevulun Orlev (National Union/NRP) slammed Sweden’s decision to boycott the exercises, saying that just a day after Holocaust Remembrance Day, “an enlightened nation has surrendered to the Islamic axis of evil.” Mr. Orlev is correct that an action such as this the day after Holocaust Remembrance Day is ugly, however I would tend to think that actions such as Sweden took are reprehensible no matter when they are done. 

If the Swedish are uneducated in the politics of the Middle East, it is no sin in itself. This is hard to believe though since Sweden has increasingly led anti-Israel moves in Europe. In any case, one that wants to take an educated and enlightened stand on an issue should be able to study the issue with an open mind. A good place for Sweden to start might be at the Holocaust Memorial at Yad Vashem. Perhaps a visit there will awaken their conscience.

 

 

 

 

 
     
 
 
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