Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Sad Situation in Sweden

Andrew Sullivan linked to this piece, which prompted me to write him this letter:


I've written you before and I am absolutely fascinated by your blog. On the war, on Bush/Kerry, on gay rights - you're a voice for truth that cuts through the pre-programmed rantings from the extremes and the "balanced" and P.C. non-statements from mainstream media.

But on the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict you don't seem to be interested in "breaking" with conventional American pro-Israeli wisdom. I read a lot of Norwegian news sites, and they are similar to Swedish ones in their anti-Israeli bias. Right or wrong the conventional view in Scandinavia is that Israel is the agressor and Palestine is the victim. I suspect you disagree, which is fine, but why don't you argue your case in the same objective, truth-seeking style that you apply to other issues? Why just leave brief commentary under the heading "anti-semitism watch" whenever you link to a story about Israel in European media? Can't you at least try to decipher their arguments before you debunk them?

This cartoon in Dagens Nyheter ("It's pretty grim in Sweden") is a great example. To me as a Scandinavian, this guy comes off as a "regular", center-left (the majority view) guy. You may call him naive (I would) but this type of thinking is deeply ingrained in Scandinavian culture. "Tearing down walls between people" will invaribly come up in foreign policy discussions just like "I don't want my tax money to go to X" will invaribly come up in discussions with Americans about government spending. To me, the cartoon expresses the frustration that most Swedes feel at beling labelled anti-semite, i.e. "racist", when all they're doing is applying what they learned in childhood about how humans should interract with each other.

But all you see in this cartoon (as suggested by your link text "anti-semitism watch") is more evidence of Swedish anti-semitism. In fact, you and the "honest reporting" writer (not a name that inspires confidence, by the way) are responding to the question "why is it that Jews call us anti-semites when we complain about the wall?" by taking the question itself as further proof of anti-semitism. How does a response at this level help bring about "the truth"?

I recognize that you may not have intended to create a "discussion entry" but when you put up a link under "anti-semitism watch" you are, in fact, calling something or someone "racist" and in this day and age that is a very strong statement.

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