Sweden, UPR Report Consideration
Antisemitism in Sweden is serious and increasing, and the response of the government is clearly inadequate. In Malmo, Gothenburg and elsewhere, threats and violence targeting Jews and synagogues continue. According to EU reports, ninety percent of Swedish Jews say antisemitism is growing, and do not believe the government is fighting Jew hatred, including anti-Zionist attacks, effectively.
The ritual condemnations of political leaders are insufficient, and another international conference on antisemitism, initially planned for October 2020, will not address the hate within Swedish society.1
The omission of antisemitism in the January 2020 Compilation on Sweden Report of the OHCHR is itself a fundamental failure, as is the absence of a response to the Universal Periodic Review Report of the Working Group on Sweden, which calls for “the full implementation of the IHRA working definition of antisemitism.”
Instead, Swedish officials repeats vague language referring to “certain measures geared towards combatting specific forms of racism such as antisemitism.” The special envoy in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, whose duties “include strengthening work against anti-Semitism” has no visible impact within Sweden.
Government bodies, such the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), contribute to hate by singling out the Jewish state for attack, in violation of the International Holocaust Working Definition of Antisemitism. Major SIDA grantees such as Diaknoia disseminate false and ideologically-based allegations of “collective punishment,” “war crimes,” and “violation[s] of international humanitarian law.” And SIDA’s in-house publication Omvarlden used antisemitic images to vilify researchers.
For these and many more reasons, the continued failure of Sweden to respond effectively to antisemitism, and to adopt and implement the IHRA working definition, must not be ignored.
Commission of Inquiry on Syria
The ongoing human rights disaster in Syria has numerous causes, including the failure of this body and of those who claim to speak on behalf human rights to act responsibly and morally.
Highly prestigious research centers, such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, as well as numerous journalists and media platforms have documented the extensive involvement of the Iranian government in support of the Assad regime. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as the Hezbollah proxy force, based in Lebanon, have contributed significantly to the civilian deaths, wanton destruction, IHL violations, and war crimes.
According to these reports, Hezbollah has sent thousands of fighters to Syria, equipped with guided missiles, Toophan anti-tank missiles, and possibly chemical weapons. In addition, Iran has also deployed over 2,000 soldiers and controls bases and airfields in Homs, and near Damascus, and supports from 8,000 to 12,000 fighters from Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, and elsewhere. Many civilians have reportedly been killed, including in the Aleppo battles.
As the late Robert Bernstein, founder of Human Rights Watch, observed, open democratic countries provide easier targets for those who claim to promote human rights, or who set their agendas based on ideology, in contrast to moral principles. But in parallel, the war crimes in Syria continue.