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B'nai B'rith Malmö Sweden

2015-02-08

Open Letter

To the Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, Foreign Minister Margot Wallström and Archbishop Antje Jackelén,

In regards to President Mahmoud Abbas's visit to Sweden on February 10th after the Swedish government's controversial recognition of the State of Palestine.

Despite the Swedish government's stated goal of assistance is poverty reduction, the Swedish government decided last fall to extend assistance to the West Bank and Gaza to 700 million per year.
This is even though the OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) classifies some regions as a middle-income country. Support of this magnitude should reasonably also mean high standards of achievement in terms of freedom, democracy, serious peace negotiations and human rights.

Instead, we see the contrary set peace negotiations, a clampdown on opposition and dissent, less democracy and remuneration of imprisoned terrorists. Under the leadership of Goran Persson, former Prime Minister of Sweden, the public information campaign Living History was established. They released a fiction book about the Holocaust called "If Ye Tell Me". It would be an appreciated gesture if Mahmoud Abbas who himself wrote a treatise on the Holocaust - which he admittedly partial gave the Jews themselves to blame for the Holocaust- could get a copy of this book in Arabic. It would also be beautiful if Abbas could prepare his people for the idea of peace by spreading the book "If Ye Tell Me" to the young generation in their homeland. Instead, we see how the Palestinian Authority (PA) lets anti-Semitic schoolbooks get publish that not only promotes hatred against Israel but against Jews. Government-sponsored television broadcast children's programs that indoctrinate children to hate Jews and encourages martyrdom and battle against Israel.

Fatah, which controls the PA, spreads hate against Israel in Arabic, but when the Swedish politicians come to visit one speaks of peace in English. Almost a year ago, the terrorist organization Hamas and Abbas' Fatah party agreed to form a unity government. Abbas himself was elected 10 years ago for a term of four years, but since 2006, no elections have been held in the Palestinian territories. As far as we can understand, Mahmoud Abbas represents, the Palestinian unity government and assumingly somehow also represent the Palestinians in Gaza. We therefore would appreciate it if the Swedish hosts could ask Abbas to distance himself from the Hamas Covenant, which calls Jews in its preface "offspring of pigs and monkeys". We also see how Abbas' government fails to comply with human rights. Dissidents critical of the regime are incarcerated, receive death threats if they are gay, women fear honor murders, and Christians are harassed by their neighbors and fear fleeing.

The Palestinian security forces arbitrarily arrest and torture Palestinian civilians. The Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR) reported that between the years 2007-2012 the Palestinian security forces arrested13,271 Palestinians, of which 18% were subjected to severe torture.

If you have Facebook and live in the West Bank, you have to watch out. It got Anas Saad Awad, 26 years old, sentenced to one year in prison for having put up a picture of Mahmoud Abbas as a footballer. Just in the last two weeks, the PA has called more than 20 Palestinians for questioning because of dissident Facebook posts. The journalist Mamdouh Hamamreh was sentenced to one year in prison for criticizing Abbas, and as recently as last week, Palestinian security forces battered Palestinian journalist Muaz Al-Amleh for his criticism of Fatah officials on social media. Although the strategy to imprison critics are effective in the short term to create unity among the people, Swedish hosts ought to tell Abbas that it does not work in the long run and that continuing restrictions on freedom of expression also should imply limitations of assistance.

In accordance with the PA's law on salaries of paid prisoners, it includes families of suicide bombers and Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons. The program does not cover ordinary thieves but only those who "participate in the resistance against the occupation." In the year 2011, this was more than 6% of the PA's budget. Terror wage increases in line with the length of imprisonment, so that those who received a sentence of 0-3 years in prison are rewarded with 3000 kronor per month while a sentence of 3-5 years receives SEK 4000 kronor. One of hundreds of cases, Ahmad Mustafa Barghouti Talab who personally coordinated multiple terrorist attacks including one in which the perpetrator fired wildly at a restaurant in Tel-Aviv. He was sentenced in 2004 to life in prison and he has a salary now of generous 30,000 kronor per month. It would not be unseemly for the Swedish hosts to ask Abbas to end terrorists' salaries or at least ask him not to use the Swedish tax money.

While Sweden has clearly not done enough to combat anti-Semitism at home, SIDA (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) pumps in hundreds of million kronor to various anti-Semitic organizations in the Palestinian territories. SIDA´s money goes through Diakonia and the Swedish Mission Church which fund the Palestinian organizations Sabeel and Badil. These organizations glorify violence and martyrdom, and work to eliminate the Jewish state. Particularly noteworthy is that the Swedish Church by the decision of the General Synod 2012 adopted the so-called the Kairos document authored by Palestinian Christians and it is based on "replacement theology", ie that Judaism is repealed and is replaced by Christianity. The Jews are then portrayed there as scapegoats without raison d'être and the Jews' historical ties with Israel erased.

Swedish Church calls even to the study of the anti-Semitic documents in the parishes. It was therefore uplifting when Archbishop Antje Jackelén took the opportunity to make clear to Abbas that the Swedish Church distances itself from the Kairos document and the like muddy thinking, and that it relegated to the theological garbage where it belongs.

Once you will agree that Jews and even Israelis are regarded as people, then perhaps an opening can be made for more meaningful peace negotiations between the parties. Through the Swedish government's recognition rather offsets peace efforts, since Abbas saw that it is possible to achieve their goals without having to negotiate directly with Israel. Without peace negotiations in sight, with the assistance money that is funding an agency that distributes anti-Semitism, encourages terrorism, terrorists' salaries and whose security forces strangle the press and freedom of expression, there is no reason for continued Swedish support to these areas classified as a middle-income country.

Although Abbas has at least 700 million reasons to visit Sweden, B'nai B'rith Malmo (part of B'nai B'rith International) invites the government to speak clearly with Palestinian President about freezing aid pending progress.

Facts about B'nai B'rith:
B'nai B'rith and the Independent Order of B'nai B'rith Hebrew: בני ברית ("Sons of the Covenant") is the oldest continuously operating Jewish service organization in the world. It was founded in New York by Henry Jones and eleven others on 13 oktober 1843rd The organization is active in a wide range of different areas in social and welfare. These include, inter alia, Promotion of Jewish rights, assistance to hospitals and victims of natural disasters, allocation of scholarships to Jewish students and public opinion against anti-Semitism through his body's Center for Human Rights and Public Policy. The organization's main body is the B'nai B'rith International, which operates in over one hundred countries around the world to safeguard the interests and increase the welfare of Jews residing in these countries. In the early 1900s founded the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation League, the student organization Hillel and youth organization BBYO.

Regards

B´nai B´rith Malmö Sweden