Swedish prime minister condemns supporters’ ‘crush Zionism’ chants in Malmo


(JTA) — Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said he would visit Malmo to discuss chants about “crushing Zionism at by supporters of his party at a rally.

The incident on a May 1 march for workers’ rights by the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League — a branch of Lofven’s party — prompted an outcry by Malmo’s Jewish community, whose members are often targeted with anti-Semitic attacks involving anti-Israel sentiment.

Lofven will “present the party’s position on what happened, which views as a serious incident,” his press secretary, Gösta Brunnander, told Expressen Wednesday.

The TV4 channel this week aired an item profiling Salomea, a young Jewish woman from Malmo, who spoke about living in fear in the heavily-Muslin city. Her sister, she said, was assaulted at the age of 12 in a soccer field because she is Jewish.

Leading the rally was the former mayor of Malmo, Ilmar Reepalu. He has blamed the rise in anti-Semitism on Jews and advised them to distance themselves from Israel to remain safe during his tenure, which ended in 2013. Hannah Rosenthal, a former U.S. special envoy for combating anti-Semitism, said Reepalu’s words were a prime example of “new anti-Semitism,” wherein anti-Israel sentiment serves as a guise for hatred of Jews.

Following an outcry over the May 1 rally, Electra Ververidis, the head of the Social Democrats youth movement, apologized for “offending the Jewish congregation,” and pledged not to chant about crushing Zionism in the future.

Aron Verstandig, president of the Council of Swedish Jewish Communities, called Lofven’s visit “an important sign.”

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