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Wiesenthal Center asks Sweden to pay for protection of its Jews

(JTA) — The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on the Swedish government to assume the cost of protecting the Jewish community.

Senior officials of the organization, who visited Stockholm and Malmo during a weeklong fact-finding mission, accused the government of making the Jewish community pay the equivalent of a "Jewish tax," requiring the community to pay for most security measures, including barriers against attacks in front of the synagogue during services.

The Jewish community is in danger in Sweden, the center says.

"Sweden intelligence has identified over 400 Islamist radicals and neo-Nazis," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the center’s associate dean, in a statement issued Tuesday from Stockholm. "Coupled with global threats from ‘lone wolf’ operatives, Jews are a primary target for hate crimes and terrorists."

Center officials met in the southern city of Malmo with key political, Jewish and Muslim officials and top law enforcement officials.  The Wiesenthal Center imposed a travel advisory for Jews on Sweden’s third largest city last December after a spate of anti-Semitic incidents was ignored.

Meanwhile, in a letter Wednesday to Malmo Mayor Ilmar Reepalu, Dr. Shimon Samuels, the center’s director for international relations, called for a municipally funded telephone help line for victims of hate crimes, the establishment of a hate-crime monitoring and investigation unit, and government funding of at-risk religious institutions.

Samuels decried the mayor’s comments following the meetings, in which Reepalu referred to "the powerful Wiesenthal Center’s influence," calling it reminiscent of conspiracy theories against Jews in the 1930s.

Approximately 800 Jews live in Malmo among a total population of 300,000, which includes a large, mainly Muslim, immigrant community.

Some 400 anti-Semitic acts were registered in Malmo in 2009 — more than half of the total number of hate crimes in the city.

In 2009, a Davis Cup tennis match in Malmo between Sweden and Israel played to an empty stadium due to security concerns in the wake of anti-Israeli protests over the Gaza war.

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