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Israelis threatened during Malmo Eurovision contest

(JTA) — An Israeli journalist covering the Eurovision song contest in Malmo, Sweden, said he and two of his compatriots were threatened on the street.

Alon Amir told Sveriges Radio on Tuesday that he and the other two Israelis were accosted by a group of young men. Amir told the men he was from Cyprus “because I knew where it was heading,” he told Sveriges Radio on Tuesday. “They said: ‘Where are the Israelis staying, we want to bomb the place,’” Amir said. “It wasn’t a joke.”

Initial reports in Swedish media said the men were part of the Israeli delegation but Sveriges Radio reported they were only covering the event.

Several dozen anti-Semitic incidents per year occur annually in Malmo, a city of about 1,000 Jews where approximately 30 percent of the population comes from Muslim countries. The Swedish court system did not convict anyone of hate crimes in Malmo in 2010 and 2011 despite registering 480 complaints.

On Wednesday, the chairman of the Malmo municipality’s Culture Committee, Daniel Sestrajcic, said Israel should be boycotted from the Eurovision – a major international event with delegations from 39 countries. “Israel can return when Palestine is free,” he shouted at a demonstration commemorating the Palestinian “catastrophe,” or Nakba – the Palestinian name for the creation of the State of Israel.

In a statement on May 14, Rolf K Nilsson, a Swedish lawmaker, condemned Sestrajcic for making Malmo “once again emerge as an anti-Semitic, anti-Jew and anti-Israeli city.”

The competition in Malmo is scheduled to end Saturday. Hundreds of Jews and non-Jews are planning to walk together that day through the streets of Malmo while wearing kippahs as a sign of their opposition to anti-Semitism.

Malmo’s outgoing mayor, Ilamr Reepalu, has been accused of encouraging anti-Semitism with statements he made, including drawing an analogy between anti-Semitism and Zionism and suggesting Jews distance themselves from Zionism to stay safe.

Last year, assailants set off an explosive device outside the city’s Jewish Community Center and vandalized the building. No one has been indicted for the incident, which police said was not classified as a hate crime.

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