Sunday, November 6, 2016

Sweden: At least seven anti-Israel booths and assemblies at Gothenburg book fair

From the Jerusalem Post (Noam Bedein):
Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden. The city’s largest cultural event of the year is held each September in one of the largest exhibition spaces in town. This year the theme was “Freedom of Speech.” Over a period of four days, close to 100,000 people from across Sweden paid a visit to the fair. 
A special part of the Göteborg Book Fair is “The International Square” – “a network of NGOs, publishers, trade unions, businesses and agencies working with international issues and development and co-operation.” The goal is “to spread qualified information about global development issues to the many visitors – from Sweden and elsewhere.” The Swedish international aid and development agency (SIDA) supports the International Square, among other things by paying the salary of an organizer from a private adult-education agency. (...)
There were at least seven anti-Israel booths and assemblies.
Diakonia – the booth across from SIFA – was run by six or seven young adults, passionate activists, promoting books about the suffering of Gazans, doing everything they could to catch the attention of young passers by to get them interested in their cause and sign them up for “free trips to Palestine.”
Representatives from EAPPI (Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel) had a booth right next to SIFA’s. They wore green safari vests with lots of pockets on the front and EAPPI written on the back along with an all-orange version of their logo showing a peace dove and a cross. I recalled encountering many such activists in Israel, provoking IDF troops, trying to fabricate scenes to document with their cameras. 
There was a small auditorium where selected participants (including yours truly) gave presentations. Right next to it was a second-hand library/bookstore with a huge sign on top reading, “Buy books against the Occupation.” State of the Art colorful handbags proclaiming “Boycott Israel” were for sale. A donation box with pins designed for the next flotilla to Gaza was on one of the shelves. 
Emmaus – an organization that backs projects such as the newest flotilla to Gaza – had its name on two “pro-Palestinian” booths, one of which was near the larger auditorium. The other was a Swedish-Palestinian booth selling “right of return” books.
 In the other half of the huge complex, there were powerful photography exhibits, many of which covered the Palestinian- Israeli conflict. Of course, they weren’t what you would call impartial. (...)
But perhaps there is some hope, even in Sweden.  
“Last year they were much more aggressive” – SIFA’s Jorgen Knudtzon tells me.
“The ‘pro-Palestinian’ activists were wearing their T-shirts, calling out ‘Boycott Israel’ and were scattered throughout the book-fair complex with charity boxes collecting for the next Gaza flotilla while handing out their propaganda. It even reached to a point that an activist approached our booth and told me: ‘If I had a machine gun, I would gun you all down.’ This year was ... quieter compared to last year’s book fair, although we definitely felt the tension when many of these anti-Israel activists were checking out our booth a couple times a day, picking up our information material and thumbing through the books we presented on our table.”
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