A walk for acceptance and diversity you might call “the kippa-walk”. During the 1970’s Malmoe had ca 2000 Jewish inhabitants, but now the number has decreased to about 500. One very destinct reason is the sometimes equally distinct anti-Semitism. Here in Malmoe the most evident anti-Semitic expressions come from people on the political left-wing and from some Muslims. Sometimes also from others. Does this mean that everything is bad? Jews in Malmoe are being harrassed and threatened. They are insulted, receive intimidating comments and death threats. Rabbi Shneuer Kesselman is one who often is victimized in this way, but also members of the Mosaic congregation and others who show their Jewish identity.
Also during this week leading up to the big finale yesterday evening of the Eurovision Song Contest Jews have been intimidated. Israeli journalists and delegates have been insulted and threatened on more than one occassion. Some have said that they wanted to know where they were living so that they might bomb the place. This last Wednesday 300 Palestinians demonstrated against the Israeli participation in the ESC, and also Daniel Sestrajcic from the Left Party, and head of the Section for Culture participated in the protest against Israel and the Israeli participation in the ESC. Now it’s also 65 years since Israel in the modern form was founded on May 15th 1948, which the Palestinians refer to as An-Nakba/The Disaster, since 700 000 Palestinians were driven from their homes. The killings continue on both sides. Sestrajcic said: “A cultural boycot is just as important as an economic one”. Two days ago the Conservative Party attacked Sestrajcic for his anti-Semitism, and he then reported them to the Police.
Yesterday there was a new kippa-walk in protest against these hate-crimes. What is a kippa? The kippa is the small Jewish cap which you see on male Jews sometimes, especially when they celebrate Jewish holidays, visit synagogues or Kotel ha-Ma’aravi/The Western Wall in Jerusalem. The first kippa-walk here in Malmoe was held in December 2011 when 10-15 Jews took a walk through town with kippas on their heads after Shabbat service to show their identity in protest of all the hatred they meet. That was the first time. All in all seven kippa-walks have been held, of which the last three have been quite big and grown into a movement for tolerance of minorities, for acceptance and against all hate-crimes. Now the kippa-walks gather Jews and non-Jews alike: atheists, agnostics, religious people from different religions, men and women. We also have to remember that we have had Jews in Sweden since the 1780’s and that the Jews are one of Sweden’s five official national minorities protected by Swedish law.
The kippa-walk yesterday had been threatened by Islamists and the first route had to be changed. The Malmoe Police had called in colleagues from other parts of the country because of the threats and the security yesterday was immense. I saw police officers and police cars everywhere. When I came to the synagogue at noon people had began to gather. The Shabbat service had just ended and Barbara Posner and Jehoshua Kauffman from the Mosaic Congregation, Willy Silberstein from the Swedish Comittee Against Anti-Semitism, (SKMA) in Stockholm talked to those who showed up. Also Sofia Nerbrand from Malmoe Municipality was one of those who had initiated last day’s walk. I took out my own kippa and put it on my head. A reporter from Finnish Radio came up to me and asked me about the importance of and meaning with this kippa-walk. I told him so and gave the interview.
When we started walking at 12.30 about 300 people had gathered and participated in the walk. The sun was shining brightly from a clear blue sky and summer Malmoe was showing itself from its best side. It was only when we reached the square Triangeln that I heard someone there shouting some angry insult, otherwise there were no incidents. We continued our march up to the central parts in the Old town and ended at the Major Square/Stortorget where speeches were held by Jehoshua Kauffman, head of the Malmoe Mosaic Congregation, Barbara Posner, a Jewess born and bred here in Malmoe, Olle Schmidt and Sofia Nerbrand. They were pleased to have gathered people from Malmoe, Landskrona, Lund, Helsingborg, Stockholm and Copenhagen, Denmark to show their sympathy for the fact that we must be able to be who we are without being harrassed. Even if the focus yesterday was on antisemitism and the treatement of the Jews here in Malmoe also other forms of fobia were mentioned; islamophobia, afrofobia, antiziganism and homofobia. Among the participants yesterday there were also Muslims and it warmed my heart to see Jews and Muslims, Christians and Atheists walking side by side – and to be one of them. Jehoshua Kaufmann said that he was pleased to see so many gathered. We were on the same spot as where a delegation carrying Israeli flags was attacked in 2009. He also said that even if the hate crimes do exist he also pinpointed the acceptance and the good efforts made that also is part of our wonderful city. Barbara Posner said that if she had been younger she probably too would have left Malmoe for all the attacks, but Olle Schmidt said she shouldn’t have to. “We want you here and we need you here” he said to her. Just one hour after the kippa-walk Adrian Kaba, Social Democrat had yet another anti-Semite manifestation. Always this hate. Tragic. The acceptance for our diversity is vital and that’s why I so often write about it. Tomorrow I will write about the different discussions between the religions Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism that have been an important part in the Coexist tent this week. Now the ESC is over, but the efforts in Coexist and Malmoe in general will continue. That is just so important.
Anders Moberg, May 19th 2013
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