Thursday, 10 September 2009

Diaspora Affairs Minister to virtually 'meet' with Swedish Jews

Source: article by Haviv Rettig Gur in TJP

Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein expects the diplomatic crisis over an incendiary Swedish newspaper report to take center stage next week when he meet s with Swedish Jewry in a video conference with community representative.

During the diplomatic crisis, which culminated with the cancellation of the upcoming visit to Israel of Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, many Swedish Jews said they felt trapped between the arguing parties.

"I'm sure no one in the community has any doubt that Israel is a free and democratic country that is not capable of doing the terrible things that have appeared [in the Swedish media] recently," Edelstein will tell the community leaders, referring to the Aftonbladet report alleging soldiers had harvested Palestinians' organs.

"Jews in Stockholm, and in every other community, should remember that IDF soldiers are not an abstract idea for us. They are our children, brothers, sisters, neighbors. They are not capable of doing the things unfortunately ascribed to them," he said.

But the meeting won't be an argument, he adds. "Any Jewish community should always remember Israel as a state is a partner and friend," he said.

The meeting is a joint initiative of Edelstein's ministry and the European Jewish Congress' leadel.NET project, an online initiative to foster European Jewish identity through online media. It is headed by Vladimir Kantor, son of EJC president Moshe Kantor.

Edelstein will hold an online conversation facilitated by leadel.NET's infrastructure with a different Jewish community each month. In October, he will speak with the community of Sofia, Bulgaria, and in October with Milan, Italy.

The "conversations" will focus not only on communal leaders, but will seek to attract young people to discuss Israel with Israeli public figures. Edelstein will invite such figures from academia, the media, government and the military to participate in the discussions.

"The congress is working hard to connect communities in Europe to Israel using modern technology. It's time to learn how to use the technology to build new bridges," said Tomer Marshall, managing director of leadel.NET, of the online gatherings.

- Aftonbladet: behind the banner 'freedom of press', by Lisa Abramowicz
Sweden: Aftonbladet's accusations are anti-Semitic according to Council of Europe and OSCE classification