Malmo mayor challenged on meeting with U.S. anti-Semitism envoy


(JTA) — A Swedish paper accused Malmo Mayor Ilmar Reepalu of lying about who initiated his meeting last year with the U.S. State Department official in charge of monitoring anti-Semitism.

Reepalu recently told the Swedish radio channel P1 that he initiated his meeting last April with Hannah Rosenthal, the former U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, but the Swedish daily Varlden Idag challenged the mayor’s account.

Varlden Idag quotes Rosenthal, who stepped down in October, as saying, “It was definitely I who asked for the meeting” after “several, several months of following anti-Semitic incidents [in Malmo] and Mayor Reepalu’s many comments.” She added, “It is always unfortunate when people try to rewrite history.”

Reepalu, who announced recently that he was stepping down as mayor in July after 28 years on the job, has said that Zionism and anti-Semitism were both “unacceptable forms of extremism"; that the Jewish community had been infiltrated by nationalists; and that Jews who don’t wish to be assaulted should not support Israel.

A few dozen anti-Semitic attacks are documented every year in Malmo, a city of about 1,000 Jews where approximately 30 percent of the population is from a Muslim background, according to estimates.

Meanwhile, a flag with a swastika was placed on the door of a synagogue in Norrkoping, a city situated 85 miles southwest of Stockholm, the Norrkopings Tidningar local daily reported. Police are treating the March 1 incident as a hate crime.

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