Sweden’s reputation as a tolerant, liberal nation is being threatened by a steep rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes in the city of Malmo. When she first arrived in Sweden after her rescue from a Nazi concentration camp, Judith Popinski was treated with great kindness. She raised a family in the city of Malmo, and for the next six decades lived happily in her adopted homeland – until last year. A chapel serving the city’s 700-strong Jewish community was set ablaze. Jewish cemeteries were repeatedly desecrated, worshippers were abused on their way home from prayer, and “Hitler” was mockingly chanted in the streets by masked men.

“I never thought I would see this hatred again in my lifetime, not in Sweden anyway,” Mrs Popinski said. “This new hatred comes from Muslim immigrants. The Jewish people are afraid now.” Malmo’s Jews, however, do not just point the finger at bigoted Muslims and their fellow racists in the country’s Neo-Nazi fringe. They also accuse Ilmar Reepalu, the Left-wing mayor who has been in power for 15 years, of failing to protect them. Mr Reepalu, who is blamed for lax policing, is at the centre of a growing controversy for saying that what the Jews perceive as naked anti-Semitism is in fact just a sad, but understandable consequence of Israeli policy in the Middle East.

While his views are far from unusual on the European liberal-left, which is often accused of a pro-Palestinian bias, his Jewish critics say they encourage young Muslim hotheads to abuse and harass them. The future looks so bleak that by one estimate, around 30 Jewish families have already left for Stockholm, England or Israel, and more are preparing to go. With its young people planning new lives elsewhere, the remaining Jewish households, many of whom are made up of Holocaust survivors and their descendants, fear they will soon be gone altogether. Mrs Popinski, an 86-year-old widow, said she has even encountered hostility when invited to talk about the Holocaust in schools.

“Muslim schoolchildren often ignore me now when I talk about my experiences in the camps,” she said. “It is because of what their parents tell them about Jews. The hatreds of the Middle East have come to Malmo. Schools in Muslim areas of the city simply won’t invite Holocaust survivors to speak any more.” Hate crimes, mainly directed against Jews, doubled last year with Malmo’s police recording 79 incidents and admitting that far more probably went unreported. As of yet, no direct attacks on people have been recorded but many Jews believe it is only a matter of time in the current climate.

The city’s synagogue has guards and rocket-proof glass in the windows, while the Jewish kindergarten can only be reached through thick steel security doors. It is a far cry from the city Mrs Popinski arrived in 65 years ago, half-dead from starvation and typhus. At Auschwitz she had been separated from her Polish family, all of whom were murdered. She escaped the gas chambers after being sent as a slave labourer. Then she was moved to a women’s’ concentration camp, Ravensbrück, from where she was then evacuated in a release deal negotiated between the Swedish Red Cross and senior Nazis, who were by then trying to save their own lives.

After the war, just as liberal Sweden took in Jews who survived the Holocaust as a humanitarian act, it also took in new waves of refugees from tyranny and conflicts in the Middle East. Muslims are now estimated to make up about a fifth of Malmo’s population of nearly 300,000. “This new hatred from a group 40,000-strong is focused on a small group of Jews,” Mrs Popinski said, speaking in a sitting room filled with paintings and Persian carpets. “Some Swedish politicians are letting them do it, including the mayor. Of course the Muslims have more votes than the Jews.”

The worst incident was last year during Israel’s brief war in Gaza, when a small pro-Israeli demonstration was attacked by a mob of Arabs and Swedish leftists, who threw bottles and firecrackers as the police looked on. “I haven’t seen hatred like that for decades,” Mrs Popinski said. “It reminded me of what I saw in my youth. Jews feel vulnerable here now.” The problem is becoming an embarrassment for the Social Democrats, the mayor’s party. Their national leader Mona Sahlin – who is likely to become the next prime minister after an election later this year – travelled to Malmo to meet Jewish leaders, which they took to be a sign that at last politicians are waking to their plight.

After the meeting, the mayor, Mr Reepalu, also promised to meet them. A former architect, he has been credited with revitalising Malmo from a half-derelict shipbuilding centre into a vibrant, prosperous city with successful IT and biotech sectors. His city was – until recently at least – a shining multicultural success story, and has taken in proportionally more refugees than anywhere else in Sweden, a record of which it is proud. Sweden has had a long record of offering a safe haven to Jews, the first of whom arrived from the east in the mid-nineteenth century. Today the Jewish population is about 18,000 nationally, with around 3000 in southern Sweden.

The mayor insists that he is opposed to anti-Semitism, but added: “I believe these are anti-Israel attacks, connected to the war in Gaza. “We want Malmo to be cosmopolitan and safe for everybody and we have taken action. I have started a dialogue forum. There haven’t been any attacks on Jewish people, and if Jews from the city want to move to Israel that is not a matter for Malmo.” “Jews came to Sweden to get away from persecution, and now they find it is no longer a safe haven,” said Rabbi Shneur Kesselman, 31. “That is a horrible feeling.” One who has had enough is Marcus Eilenberg, a 32-year-old Malmo-born lawyer, who is moving to Israel with his young family.

“Malmo has really changed in the past year,” Ellenberg said. “I am optimistic by nature, but I have no faith in a future here for my children. There is definitely a threat. “It started during the Gaza war when Jewish demonstrators were attacked. It was a horrible feeling, being attacked in your own city. Just as bad was the realisation that we were not being protected by our own leaders.” Mr Eilenberg said he and his wife considered moving to Stockholm where Jews feel safer than in Malmo. “But we decided not to because in five years time I think it will be just as bad there,” he said.

“This is happening all over Europe. I have cousins who are leaving their homes in Amsterdam and France for the same reason as me.” Malmo’s Jews are not the only ones to suffer hate crimes. At the city’s Islamic Centre, the director Bejzat Becirov pointed out a bullet hole in the window behind the main reception desk. Mr Becirov, who arrived in 1962 from the former Yugoslavia, said that windows were regularly smashed, pig’s heads had been left outside the mosque, and outbuildings burnt down – probably the acts of Neo-Nazis who have also baited Jews in the past.

He said that the harassment of Jews by some young Muslims was “embarrassing” to his community. Many of them are unemployed and confined to life on bleak estates where the Scandinavian dream of prosperity and equality seemed far away. For many of Malmo’s white Swedish population, meanwhile, the racial problems are bewildering after years of liberal immigration policies. “I first encountered race hatred when I was an au pair in England and I was shocked,” said Mrs Popinski’s friend Ulla-Lena Cavling, 72, a retired teacher. “I thought ‘this couldn’t happen in Sweden’. Now I know otherwise.”

Source: Jewish News



Sept 4 – Sept 25 – 22 days of focused prayer for the Jewish people

A study of ancient Jewish betrothal and wedding customs is a fascinating pursuit, throwing much light onto Jesus’ end-time teachings and the book of Revelation. Terminology such as a scroll “sealed with seven seals” (Rev 5:1), “I go to prepare a place for you.” (Jn 14:2-3), “of that day or hour no one knows…but the Father alone” (Mk 13:32), and being “caught up with him” (I Thess 4:16-17), are all expressions associated with a Jewish wedding.

“Behold the Bridegroom, Come to meet Him” (Matt 25:1-13) is the theme of the 12th edition of the Jewish Prayer Focus, reminding us that the Bridegroom’s arrival is imminent and we must be wise virgins with our lamps trimmed lighting the way for His coming. The ancient Hebrew betrothal and marriage customs are explained in the booklet and also in a DVD available from our website.

The Jewish Prayer Focus is a 22-day call to prayer (Sept 4-Sept 25) for a harvest of souls amongst the Jewish people group, at the time of year when they are soul-searching and repenting in accordance with the Holy Days of the Biblical calendar in Lev 23:26-44. These include the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles, which all foreshadow the return of the Messiah. There are 15 new Messianic Jewish leaders from Israel and the diaspora, who share their testimonies with us (including Paul Wilbur), introduce us to their ministries/congregations or provide insightful teaching and daily prayer points.

Each year the dates, articles and writers differ. The project is endorsed by Pastor Lawrence Hirsch (President of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of Australia and John Dawson (President, YWAM), Rob Stearns (International Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem) and Tom Hess from the House of Prayer for all Nations in Jerusalem. All our profits are returned to those for whom we are praying. Join us and learn the GOOD news from Israel. This year, there is also a Chinese translation available that can be downloaded from our website.

Copies available from JPF, PO Box 54, Kerrimuir VIC 3129, or email call 03-9899 7231. The cost is AUD$8.00 each, $15 for 2, $22 for 3, or $70 for 10, $115 for 20 incl postage.  Cheques to Living Way Christian Network Inc. Website is also available from Koorong.

Jill Curry,
Jewish Prayer Focus Coordinator

Source: Jewish Prayer Focus Co-ordinator



Canada has once again demonstrated its unequivocal support for and friendship with Israel when Prime Minister Stephen Harper took other Western leaders to task for not backing the Jewish state sufficiently enough. “There’s nothing more shortsighted in Western capitals in our time than the softening of support we’ve seen for Israel around the globe,” the Associated Press quoted Harper as saying during a recent visit to New York City.

The Canadian leader said that at a time of such turmoil, Israel has demonstrated that it is the “one stable, democratic ally” that the West can count on in the Middle East. Harper went on to counsel “extraordinary caution” when considering whether or not the West should arm Syrian rebel groups. Echoing Israel’s own concerns, Harper noted that many of the groups making up the Syrian Free Army are themselves extremists “whose objectives we don’t understand.”

Source: Israel Today



The huge reservoirs of natural gas discovered off the coast of Israel have the potential to transform the country into a lean, green manufacturing machine – capable of supplying cheap, clean energy to its people for a generation. Long bereft of the petroleum bonanza that created the modern Middle East, Israel suddenly finds itself a major player in the Mediterranean, and perhaps the European, natural gas market. The deep-water gas fields, discovered in 2009 and 2010, will soon turn Israel into an energy exporter, putting the Jewish state in the enviable but tricky position of trying to sell billions of dollars in surplus gas to neighbours that range from cool to downright hostile.

Source: Intercessors for America