In this city—just across a narrow stretch of water that separates Sweden from Denmark—what has been called "Eurabia" is slowly becoming reality. Roughly 20% of Malmö's 290,000 residents are of Muslim, mostly Arab, origin. Their widespread hatred of Israel together with traditional Swedish anti-Zionism—the result of the left's ideological supremacy here—form an explosive cocktail.
Screaming "Sieg Heil" and "Hitler, Hitler," a mostly Muslim mob threw bottles and stones at a small group of Jews peacefully demonstrating for Israel at this town's central square last year. Worshipers on their way to synagogue and Jewish kids in schools are routinely accosted as "Dirty Jews." Last year's Davis Cup tennis match against Israel, which pro-Palestinian activists had sought to cancel, was held behind closed doors. The official reason was to avoid disruption by anti-Israeli protesters. But roughly 6,000 of them clashed with the police during the event anyway. Notwithstanding the official explanation, the closed-door match left the impression that Israel is a pariah state that needs to be quarantined. Not surprisingly, Malmö's small Jewish community of roughly 700 is getting smaller as families leave town.
Faced with these attacks on the city's Jewish population, Malmö's mayor, Ilmar Reepalu, seems curiously unperturbed by, if not sympathetic to, the attackers. Asked to condemn anti-Semitism in his city, the Social Democrat suggested in a January interview to Skånska Dagbladet—published on International Holocaust Memorial Day, no less—that it's partly the Jews' own fault. Their crime? They didn't "distance" themselves from Israel and the Gaza war. "The community chose to hold a pro-Israel demonstration," Mr. Reepalu said, a move that "may convey the wrong message." Besides, Zionism is just as bad as anti-Semitism, the mayor added. Both are "extremists who want to set themselves over other groups."
In an interview last week, the mayor tells me that Skånska Dagbladet didn't quote him in his entirety. Mr. Reepalu didn't mean to criticize Zionism as such, he says, but what he called "revisionist" Zionism, which has led to the "occupation of territory."
But even if this were true, I asked, why did he find it necessary to attack Israel when he had simply been urged to oppose anti-Semitism? In lieu of an answer, the mayor recited the familiar laundry list of alleged Israeli crimes, such as "disproportionate attacks" and "destroying" peace. "I fear a Third World War," the mayor muttered darkly.
Steering the interview back to Malmö, I asked whether he was worried that his denunciations of Israel might fuel and legitimize anti-Semitic violence in his city, leaving his Jewish constituents to feel abandoned by him? He conceded that "I understand now that this is how they feel and that I have to be more cautious."
But Mr. Reepalu has been slow to reach out to the city's Jewish minority, meeting with its representatives recently only after the national head of his own party, Mona Sahlin, had talked to Malmö's Jewish community. Even more worrisome is that while the party leadership may have been embarrassed by Mr. Reepalu's comments about local Jews, his comments about those in Israel are pretty mainstream in Sweden.
Many leading Social Democrats attended last year's anti-Israel rallies—where the Jewish state's flag was burned while those of Hamas and Hezbollah were waved. Among the demonstrators was Ms. Sahlin, likely to become Sweden's next prime minister after September's general elections. "I think Gaza is comparable to the Warsaw Ghetto," said Ingalill Bjartén, the vice chair for the Social Democratic Women's organization in southern Sweden. And according to the Left Party's Hans Linde, Israel is a "racist apartheid state."
This sort of demonization of Israel and Israelis—which meets the European Union's own definition of anti-Semitism—is increasingly common across the Continent. Wherever Israel is delegitimized as a pariah state, local Jews are inevitably condemned to pariah status as well. In the streets of Malmö, one can hear "Kill the Jews," while at "peace" rallies in Amsterdam and Berlin, the chanted instructions are somewhat more specific: "Hamas, Hamas, Jews into the Gas."
These are not idle words. Anti-Semitic attacks in Malmö doubled last year to 79, while in London they hit a record of 924. And as some Swedish Jews are contemplating emigration, thousands of their French co-religionists have already moved to Israel to escape harassment.
Mr. Reepalu's suggested solution for Europe's Jews is a sort of post-Christian baptism. If conversion to Christianity was the ticket out of the ghetto in earlier times, conversion to Israel-bashing may do the trick today. If Jews "distance" themselves from the Jewish state, they will be safe, maybe even accepted in polite company. This would truly be a Eurabian night falling on the Continent.
Mr. Schwammenthal is an editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal Europe.
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