Hundreds gather in Stockholm to support Israel


(JTA) — Hundreds of people rallied for Israel in the center of Stockholm.

The participants who gathered Sunday with Israeli flags at Sergels Torg, a square in the Swedish capital that often sees large demonstrations, sang the Israeli national anthem "Hatikvah."

Fredrik Malm, a Swedish lawmaker from the Liberal People’s Party, in an address to the crowd referred to the heavy police protection at the event, according to the Uppsala-based daily Varlden Idag. 

"If this had been a demonstration calling for Israel’s destruction, this police protection would not have been necessary," he is quoted as saying.

Cecilia Wikstrom, who represents the same party at the European Parliament, quoted David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, in her speech.

"Those who don’t believe in miracles are not realistic," she said, adding that the crowd on hand was "proof that miracles happen."

The organizer of the event, 31-year-old Annika Rothstein, said the gathering was "not a protest against anything." In an interview for the blog CiF Watch, she said "It is a way of highlighting all the wonderful aspects of this country that we know and love and protect its existence in a time of confusion and disinformation." Rothstein, who is Jewish and blogs in Swedish about Israel, coordinated the event using Facebook.

But Ulf Ofverberg, a Middle East expert, said that ongoing expressions of anti-Semitism in the southern city of Malmo, which has a large population of immigrants from Muslim descent, are "a stain" on the Swedish democracy.

Several dozen Danish Jews and non-Jews plan to travel on Sept. 23 on a bus from Copenhagen to Malmo to show solidarity with Malmo’s Jewish community. Last month, approximately 400 people wearing kipahs marched through the streets of Malmo to show solidarity with its Jewish population of approximately 1,500.

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