STOCKHOLM (Aug. 22)
The president of B’nai B’rith International has confronted Sweden’s leaders with charges of bias toward the Arab cause in the Middle East conflict.
Seymour Reich, who is also chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, met separately Monday with Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson and Foreign Minister Sten Andersson.
He accused Sweden of a pro-Palestinian tilt, citing its failure to condemn recent acts of terrorism by the Palestine Liberation Organization.
He also said Stockholm ignored the call to arms at the recent conference in Tunis of Al Fatah, the largest and most moderate component of the PLO.
He said Sweden has been silent about Syrian aggression in Lebanon and has not supported the Israeli peace plan, which among other things calls for Palestinian elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Reich is still rankled by the Swedish leaders because they helped arrange a meeting here last December between PLO leader Yasir Arafat and five American Jews.
According to Reich, those Jews represented “an invisible constituency.”
The Swedish leaders responded to the charges by citing their country’s longstanding friendship with Israel. They stressed Sweden’s support of Israel’s right to exist within secure boundaries.
However, they also made clear their support of Palestinian aspirations for statehood.
Reich addressed a meeting of the European District of B’nai B’rith here Tuesday. He told his audience that Sweden has lost credibility with American Jews because of its perceived tilt toward the PLO.
“Sweden has become a frequent critic of Israel, maintaining a discreet silence when Arab groups or the PLO ventures into blatant aggression,” he said.
The B’nai B’rith leader was received Tuesday by King Carl Gustaf XVI of Sweden.