A Swedish MP wearing a keffiyeh that displays the whole of Israel replaced by a single state of Palestine.
It would be farfetched to expect most political leaders to be thoroughly knowledgeable of the issues they deal with, especially when it comes to international affairs; or to expect them to be particularly rational and ethical. Still, the new Swedish cabinet's decision to recognize "Palestine" as a state must be singled out for its nastiness and nuttiness.
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, who leads a minority "Red-Green" coalition of social democrats and greens, explained the move in the following terms:
The conflict between Israel and Palestine can only be solved with a two-state solution, negotiated in accordance with international law. A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful co-existence. Sweden will therefore recognize the state of Palestine.
Sweden is a member of the European Union, and members are supposed to coordinate their diplomatic moves, especially on such touchy matters as the Middle East and the Arab-Israeli conflict. So far, the EU has not made any common decision about recognizing Palestine as a state. Sweden's Red-Greens do not seem to be aware of such niceties.
One wonders whether the Red-Greens are aware that a state, to be recognized, needs a clearly defined population, a clearly defined territory, and an effective government that can maintain law and order. None of the above is true of "Palestine," whatever the current meaning of that word.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) — an autonomous authority established in 1994 according to a Declaration of Principles between the state of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (the Oslo Accords), and the closest thing to a "state of Palestine" – does not effectively rule the West Bank and Gaza, the two distinct territories that pass as "Palestinian territory." As an effective government, the PA should be able to maintain law and order there. Everybody knows this is not the case in Gaza, which has been controlled by Hamas and Islamic Jihad since 2007. Yet this is hardly the case in the West Bank, either. Parts of it are still administered by Israel and enjoy Israel's Supreme Court-monitored law and order. In other parts of the West Bank, PA rule — reduced, for all practical matters, to Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party rule — survives only thanks to a modicum of security cooperation with Israel.
In response to Prime Minister Löfven's statement, one must ask how the two-state solution can work if one of the considered states – the Palestinian state-to-be — is openly opposed to it. Hamas and Islamic Jihad clearly say they will never recognize Israel. The nominal PA government and Fatah say they will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state – implying their strategy is to turn Israel into a binational state. This implication is coherent with their insistence that the so-called 1948 Palestinian refugees (a population they estimate as six million people) must be granted the right to return to Israel proper. When combined with the 1.7 million Israeli Arabs, this number would overwhelm the 6.6 million Israeli Jews.
A two-state solution is even more fictitious in the light of last summer's Gaza-Israel war. Hamas and Islamic Jihad started that war, resorting to the indiscriminate bombing of Israeli civilian-populated areas and attempts to abduct or kill Israeli civilians. Both sets of operations failed, but the fact remains that they were criminal and genocidal in character.
Up, do terror attacks,
Rock them, inflict terrible blows,
Aim to make contact with the Zionists,
A country of weakness and delusion,
Demolish her down to her foundations,
(Israel) is an illusion, it will not succeed,
Rock them, now, multitude of missiles,
The criminal and genocidal character of Hamas and Islamic Jihad was further exposed in a song released in Hebrew by Hamas on the Internet in order to demoralize the Israeli population. At left are some of the lyrics (as translated by Yoram Hazony for Tablet).
It was written in such terrible Hebrew and sung with such a heavy Arabic accent as to make most Israelis laugh, and the genocide it threatened did not materialize thanks to Israel's military and technological superiority. However, in legal terms the song was glorification of, and incitation to, genocide.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas does not fare better in this respect. Instead of distancing himself from the Hamas-initiated war, he granted it political support during his September 26 speech at the UN General Assembly.
Pundits have said that Abbas had no other choice, since the Hamas war and Hamas itself are currently popular among West Bank residents, his own constituency. There is some truth here. But then again, the reason why the West Bank reacted in such a way is because Abbas' PA has never directed education towards a pro-peace attitude.
The PA was explicitly requested to do so by the Oslo Accords and the subsequent road map to peace in 2003.
Finally, one wonders whether the Swedish Red-Greens have paid heed to the present upheavals in the Middle East, the disintegration of Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, and the similarities and links between the Palestinian factions and such groups as Lebanese Hezbollah, Syrian Al-Nusra, and ISIS.
What brought Sweden to this new low?
Sweden is burdened with unsavory legacies. In the 1930s and the early 1940s, Swedish politics and intellectual life were dominated by a two-headed socialism: the slightly totalitarian social-democrats, and SSS — an active left-wing national socialist movement. Under a social-democratic administration, the country passed "social hygiene" laws similar to the Nazi ones, including the forced sterilization of "asocial" or "defective" human beings. It also banned shechitah (kosher ritual slaughtering). The social hygiene laws were not abrogated until the 1970s.
The shechitah ban, which stands in opposition to the European Convention on Human Rights, is still in force.
Until 1944, social-democratic Sweden sold Nazi Germany the world's best iron ore, a win-win policy that contributed to Sweden's wealth while sustaining a powerful German armament industry. It has been argued that Germany would have otherwise occupied Sweden, but Sweden could then have sabotaged its mining industry and deprived the Germans of much of its iron anyway. Swedish cooperation probably extended Nazi resilience in front of the Allies by at least a year.
To whitewash its behavior, after the war Sweden drifted ever more towards left-wing and radical politics both in domestic and international matters. In the 1960s and especially under Olof Palme in the 1970s and 1980s, Sweden became a champion of the Third World and a critic of American foreign policy. This move, conveniently enough, included increasing hostility toward Israel.
Sweden has indiscriminately and masochistically welcomed immigrants and asylum seekers of all kinds. As a result, 15% of the current Swedish population (1.5 million of 10 million) was born abroad, and 27% of the population (2.7 million) is fully or partially of foreign descent. Two-thirds of thèse immigrants arrived from Third World countries or from South-East Europe.
In many respects, the Muslim community is now the pivot of Swedish politics. Most Muslims tend to vote for left-wing parties and thus help them to survive in spite of the global turn to the right.
More significantly, 5% to 7% of the present population (500,000 to 700,000) is Muslim.
In many respects, the Muslim community is now the pivot of Swedish politics. Most Muslims tend to vote for left-wing parties and thus help them to survive in spite of the global turn to the right. At the same time, Muslim assertiveness has helped a dormant SSS constituency to resurface as the Swedish Democrats, capturing back a sizable part of the electorate and thus depriving the classic Right and the centrists of a working majority at the Riksdag, Stockholm's parliament.
In the September 14 general election returns, the Red-Greens won 138 seats out of 349. Even with the support of the more doctrinaire Left Party, they would garner only 159 seats. The Right and center would garner 190 seats — but that would include the 49 seats of the Swedish Democrats, something the classic conservatives or centrists would not endorse.
Doubtlessly, similar situations will arise in more EU countries, including major countries like France, bringing about further confusion and further political and geopolitical nonsense.
Michel Gurfinkiel is the Founder and President of the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute, a conservative think tank in France, and a Shillman/Ginsburg Fellow at Middle East Forum.