Those not up on their Scandinavian political/ sports news may have missed a current shitstorm in Sweden over a Davis Cup tennis match, played today, in which the Swedish national team meets the Israeli national team in the Swedish city of Malmö. The Israeli aspect is what has people up in arms.
Assorted political groups in Sweden, including, but not limited to, radical leftists, mainstream leftists, Palestinian solidarity groups and neo-nazis (!) tried to stop the game.
Here I should add, for context, that boycotting tennis games is something of a tradition on the Swedish (extraparliamentary) Left. Similar protests where held against matches with athletes from Pinochet’s Chile and apartheid Rhodesia. In the end, the Davis Cup match in Malmö is being played
— without an audience.
Now, I am the first to admit there is plenty of need to speak out against Israeli policies, especially in the wake of recent events in Gaza. However I can’t help but feel that A.) stopping sports events is not the right forum for such protest. B.) The protests are based less on a dislike for Israel’s actions and more on Israel being a Jewish state and a pet target for condemnation in some areas of the European left.
There have been plenty of voices in this debate in Swedish press. I won’t bore Jewschool readers by quoting them all. One of the most succinct, I think, is that of Bassem Nasr of the Swedish Centrist Party. Nasr writes that, criticism of Israel aside, he believes the game should be played and that once politicians start boycotting sports events they are on very thin ice.
“If we begin to single out countries for bans from Swedish sports events, it would only be fair to develop a ratings system for national crimes. Perhaps nations can get 3 points for torture, 8 for occupation, and 7 for attacking others — this could be almost like a sport in and of itself. The only other alternative is that a parliamental majority makes these decisions, in which case we would have a situation where the election of prime minister would decide if Sweden is to play pingpong with the U.S. or Cuba. Neither alternative is particularly palatable.”
What do you think? Fair protest, crazy Scandinavians, or anti-Semitism by another name?
Here’s a link to a good Swedish report on the whole mess, for the one a half Swedish-speaking Jewschool readers out there.