Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sweden: MEPs object to Zionist Federation leader's appearance in the European Parliament

Saskia Pantell
Saskia Pantell is Director of the Zionist Federation of Sweden. She appeared earlier this week at a meeting of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Israel in Strasbourg where she spoke about anti-Semitism in Sweden. 
She has denounced anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism and has participated in numerous initiatives in Sweden, including the Kippah Walk, in which Jews and non-Jews wear kippot in defiance of increased anti-Semitism in the country.
"Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism," Pantell explained, stating that Judeophobic comments are being "disguised as merely being critical of Israel."
Her appearence at the European Parliament delegation was met with objections from two Swedish MEPs, Marita Ulvskog of Sweden's Social Democratic party and Bodil Valero of the Green party who feared a "one-sided criticism against Sweden."
They sent a letter to European parliament president Martin Schulz in which they wrote : "Considering public statements made by Ms. Pantell on Sweden in the past, unopposed criticism could be expected" at Pantell’s address on Sweden-Israel relations before members of the parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Israel.
A spokesperson for the delegation, which is chaired by Italian MEP Fulvio Martusciello, denied claims the forum was biased, adding that Margrete Auken, a Danish Greens MEP, expressed her party’s views on the subject at the event.
Sweden’s relations with Israel have deteriorated since Sweden became the only EU country to recognize a ‘’state of Palestine’’and since Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom made controversial statements relating to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Swedish government, headed by the left-wing Social Democratic Party under Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, is known for its staunch support of the Palestinian cause and criticism of Israel.
In an interview in November with Swedish television network SVT2T, hours after the Paris attacks on November 13, Wallström said that "to counteract the radicalization we must go back to the situation such as the one in the Middle East of which not the least the Palestinians see that there is no future: we must either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence," suggesting that the attacks were rooted in the frustration of Muslims in the Middle East.
In December, she criticised Israel before the Swedish parliament for what she claimed were extrajudicial executions of Palestinian attackers.

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