Rabbi Kesselman and his children have been physically and verbally assaulted some fifteen times in the last year. This Yom Kippur, his
newly purchased car was vandalized with engravings including "Palestina".
Subsequent to a firebombing of the synagogue, assaults on a pro-Israel demonstration and a series of other antisemitic incidents, the Wiesenthal Centre met in December 2011 in Malmo with the Mayor, law enforcement officials, the Jewish community and Muslim and Roma leaders.
The Centre's Associate Dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper and its Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, also met with Swedish Justice Minister, Beatrice Ask in Stockholm, seeking a commitment to providing physical security for Jewish institutions. The Centre also advised the Minister that - due to the continued provocations of Malmo Mayor, Ilmar Reepalu, in constantly introducing the Middle East conflict into local discourse and thereby exacerbating tensions among the 70,000 Muslim community - it was imposing a travel advisory on Malmo.
Samuels, in March 2011, accompanied President Obama's Special Envoy on Antisemitism, Hannah Rosenthal, to meetings with Muslim and other minority leaders in the city. At a Malmo University conference on hate crime, he also explained "the Centre's concern that Malmo had become a microcosm of contemporary threat to Jews, and serves as a case model for antisemitic hatemongering beyond Sweden".
The Centre felt vindicated in that physical security of the synagogue is now partly provided by the central government in Stockholm. "Yet the Mayor's continued indifference, the ban on cameras due to privacy considerations and the lack of a police presence has not prevented this new attack... The Wiesenthal Centre was now again appealing to Stockholm to provide permanent police surveillance as in other endangered communities across Europe."
The explosion was apparently heard several blocks away and cracked the bullet-proof main door of the Jewish Community Centre.
"Such damage required sufficient expertise to fabricate a device that, though primitive, sets a precedent for more sophisticated explosives...
We are grateful that, this time, there were no casualties and understand that two suspects have been detained. We are monitoring the situation and, especially, the reaction of the Mayor ... Whether it was Ahmadinejad's Yom Kippur hate-speech at the United Nations or local sentiment fed by Islamist or other racist websites, we await rigourous condemnation and expressions of sympathy from Muslim leaders and a prompt prosecution of the perpetrators. In the meantime, the Centre's travel advisory remains in place", concluded Samuels
For further information contact Shimon Samuels on +33(0)609770158
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre is an international Jewish human rights organization with a worldwide membership of 440,000. Established in 1977, with headquarters in Los Angeles, it draws the lessons of the Holocaust to the analysis of contemporary issues of prejudice and discrimination. The Centre is an NGO in consultative status to the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the Organization of American States and the Council of Europe.
For further information, please contact Dr Shimon Samuels at +33.609.7701.58