Skip to comments.Swedish FM cancels Israel trip amid tensions between nations
Posted on 09/05/2009 6:04:14 PM PDT by SJackson
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has cancelled a planned trip to Israel this Friday, against the background of Israeli anger at the Swedish government's refusal to condemn an article in a Swedish newspaper accusing IDF soldiers of killing Palestinians and harvesting their organs.
While Swedish officials told The Jerusalem Post late last week that the visit was in doubt, Israeli diplomatic officials said Saturday night that the visit had definitely been cancelled.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was considering not meeting Bildt unless he condemned the article in the tabloid Aftonbladet, something the Swedish government - citing freedom of the press - had adamantly refused to do.
Netanyahu gave vent to Israel's disappointment over the matter during a meeting last week in Jerusalem with visiting EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
During that meeting, Netanyahu said that no one was expecting the Swedes to restrict freedom of the press, but that it was reasonable to expect the government to speak out against the type of defamation that in the past had led to the mass murder of Jews.
Sweden currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, and Bildt's failure to visit here will have an impact on the country's ability during its term as president to have any real say on the diplomatic process.
Ironically, while the Swedes continued to refuse to condemn the article, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos said Saturday in Stockholm that he regretted the Spanish newspaper El Mundo's decision to run an interview Saturday with Holocaust denier David Irving as part of a retrospective on the start of World War II 70 years ago.
"The foreign minister, while maintaining the most absolute respect for freedom of expression, regrets that space was given to a historian who denies one of the biggest tragedies for humanity in modern history," a spokesman for Moratinos said. "These types of statements deeply hurt the Jewish people."
Moratinos was in Stockholm for a meeting of EU foreign ministers. He is scheduled to arrive in Israel for meetings on Wednesday.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor applauded Moratinos for his statement.
"He understood the heart of the matter in this case, and did the right thing," Palmor said.
Despite protests from Israel's envoy in Spain, Raphael Schutz, and a number of respected historians, including Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev, the Spanish paper ran the interview as planned Saturday as part of a series of interviews with six World War II "experts." An interview with Shalev ran on Thursday.
The paper distanced itself from Irving's views, saying in an editorial that ran on Saturday, "We don't agree with the majority of what he says, but we defend his right to say it."
Schutz and Avner wrote the paper that its publishing the interview with a notorious Holocaust denier, alongside respected historians, gave Irving undeserved legitimacy and left the impression that there was no historical truth, only competing narratives - one as legitimate as the next.
If youd like to be on or off, please FR mail me.
A lot of that going around, our President can't bring himself to condemn the Communist, racist, truther who works for him.
Ping to anti semitic press
I understand this tension. I used to struggle to decide which were hotter: Swedish women or Israeli ones. But it's clear that it's the Israeli's, hand's down. Much greater variety, character, wit, intellect, etc.
Hmmm...these things have happened before. (Chinese embassy in Belgrade, y’know.)