Trending Topics:

Israeli mayors initiate boycott of Sweden over foreign minister’s criticism

on 44 Comments

Last month Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom criticized Israel’s practice of “extrajudicial executions” for Palestinians who have wielded knives and said the Palestinians perpetrate violence because they see no future under occupation. The comments have caused a furor in Israel. My translation of an article by Israeli Nana 10:


Following Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström’s contentious remarks about “Israel executing Palestinians without trial”, 15 mayors who were planning to fly to Sweden have decided to change their destination. “We want to learn, not to argue about politics”.

(By Akiva Novik and Eli Levy, updated 20th January 2016)

The remarks of the Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström, about Israel executing Palestinians, has caused great furor in the Israeli political establishment. Foreign Minister [actually former foreign minister Avigdor] Lieberman has suggested to boycott the “Ikea” chain, the Swedish ambassador was called in for an admonishing talk at Netanyahu’s [office], and many officials in Israel vociferously attacked her contentious words. It now appears that the calls for boycott are moving from words to actions, as 15 mayors from across the country have announced that they will boycott a conference that was meant to take place in Sweden with them forming a delegation.

The decision to cancel the flight, which was meant to land next March in Stockholm, was taken by members of the delegation last Tuesday. “We want to study, not to argue about politics,” said Shlomo Abuchbut, mayor of Maalot and member of the delegation.

This regards a seminar for heads of regions where new theories of management are learned. A preparatory session for the conference had already taken place in Israel, but this was before the diplomatic storm which erupted with the contentious words of the Foreign Minister. In light of this, it has been decided to change the travel destination of the mayors to Germany and Denmark.

Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

Other posts by .

Posted In:

44 Responses

  1. a blah chick on January 24, 2016, 10:29 am

    I think Sweden can weather this tepid hissy fit.

  2. Laurent Weppe on January 24, 2016, 10:53 am


    If you think that boycotting a country because its chief diplomat said that killing teenagers is wrong constitute savvy PR, you’re just not intelligent enough to add anything of value to any conference anyway.

    • pabelmont on January 24, 2016, 3:20 pm

      I am happy that these folks, officials in Israel, are by this declaration giving support to the use of boycott in foreign policy matters.

      Certainly the Swedish FM’s comments are mere words, but these mayors think they merit boycott. How much more does Israel merit boycott for its actions (not mere words) in its conduct of the occupation (possibly illegal by now for its duration and easily apparent land grab) and its out-and-out illegal settlement project.

      • Misterioso on January 25, 2016, 3:50 pm

        No “possibly illegal” about it. Israel’s occupation of Palestinian and other Arab lands it seized during the war it launched on 5 June 1967, is belligerent, utterly brutal and illegal, e.g., in gross violation of the UN Charter and the Fourth Geneva.

  3. echinococcus on January 24, 2016, 10:56 am

    So by not inflicting their precious persons on the Swedes they are punishing them? Where’s the logic of it? Maybe they need to come to a BDS course to learn about boycotting.

  4. lysias on January 24, 2016, 11:23 am

    I guess they’re admitting that boycotting a country is OK.

    • Dutch on January 24, 2016, 11:31 am

      Yes Lysias, I agree that’s the most important outcome of this. Israel has changed his mind about boycotting countries.

      BTW, Denmark and Germany should tell these guys to go to Sweden or get lost. It’s absurd that European countries let this blasting of Wallström take place.

      • just on January 24, 2016, 2:03 pm

        “BTW, Denmark and Germany should tell these guys to go to Sweden or get lost. It’s absurd that European countries let this blasting of Wallström take place. ”

        Oh, hell yes! Say it loud and say it proud! Wallström is the only one with the guts/morality/cajones/empathy and heart to speak the truth among “leaders” in this insane world

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on January 24, 2016, 2:54 pm

        “It’s absurd that European countries let this blasting of Wallström take place.”

        It really is. The EU’s pussyfooting around Israel is pathetic. It took them about 2 seconds to agree on a major boycott of Russia – a move which hurt many EU farmers – yet they took literally years to agree on the mostly toothless gesture of labelling (not even boycotting) ‘settlement’ goods. And now they are allowing a minister from an EU nation to be abused without saying a single word in her defence. All this, for a shitty little country to whom they owe nothing.

      • just on January 24, 2016, 3:22 pm

        Here’s Gideon Levy:

        “Don’t Celebrate the Israeli Occupation’s Impending Demise Just Yet

        The world will continue to pay hollow lip service in the form of absurd steps, like marking products from the settlements, for which it doesn’t stop apologizing.

        DUBLIN — His stay in America did Michael Sfard good. He returned filled with optimism. “One day the occupation will end,” he wrote, in a heart-warming, soul-reviving article that described that not-so-distant day in rosy colors.

        He described how the occupation will collapse in a very short space of time, how Israel will change abruptly, how suddenly everyone will say that they were always against the occupation. His description ignites the imagination, infuses hope, invigorates and stimulates us to continue the struggle.

        It happened in South Africa, the Soviet Union and Berlin – and it could not happen here. It is so delightful to read Sfard, so easy to be tempted to believe him – and so difficult to be a party pooper.

        And yet, there are a few factors that could determine the Israeli occupation’s ability to endure, maybe not for ever, but certainly a lot longer than Sfard envisions in his wishful thinking from Manhattan. Observe, Michael, what is happening here in the meantime; see how a 13-year-old girl with a knife is executed to the cheers of the crowd, or at least to its silence, and tell me what denoument to the occupation you are talking about.

        Nobody predicted the end of apartheid in South Africa – but apartheid never had the strong allies and generous financers that Israeli apartheid in the territories has. There wasn’t an American president who humiliated himself before that evil regime and gave a speech in its Washington embassy, in another embarrassing act of flattery to a state that has never heeded his advice and an ambassador who has done nothing but undermine him.

        There’s no state in the world that would dare to act that way toward a global power – and Barack Obama continues to bow and scrape to Israel. This is certainly not the way to bring an end to the occupation.

        When France passes an incredible law forbidding the boycott of Israel, it is absolutely clear that the occupation is here to stay and nothing will stand in its way. Israel will never end it willingly; it has never intended to do so for a moment. The world will continue to pay hollow lip service in the form of absurd steps, like marking products from the settlements, for which it doesn’t stop apologizing. At the same time, it continues funding, arming and supporting the continued occupation. With that kind of conduct the occupation won’t come to an end.

        Unlike Israel, South Africa didn’t have a captive America, nor a guilt-ridden Europe by its side. So it was possible to organize a worldwide sanctions campaign that ultimately led to the collapse of its regime. There may be differences in world public opinion, but the media and politicians are still very much afraid of Israel, … .

        Against the Afrikaner abomination stood exemplary figures – Nelson Mandela and others, blacks and whites, including quite a few Jews whose caliber has not been seen in these parts. Israel is too strong and the Palestinians are too weak and divided. Sometimes, it seems their leadership has already given up and given in. That won’t contribute to the occupation’s end, either.

        Israeli society is galloping toward the opposite extreme. With its deep-rooted chauvinism and racism, its life lived in denial, its lies and brainwashing, how can one foresee a situation in which Israel awakens from its slumber? Why should it? It can continue with the occupation as long as it likes, so why should it end?

        What incentive does a gleeful, blind society have to end the occupation? For what? Who cares about the Palestinians? And who cares what the anti-Semitic and Israel-hating world thinks, anyway. There are no signs of hope, either internal or external, dear Michael.

        I write these lines in my hotel room in Dublin, opposite the General Post Office where the decisive stage in the struggle for independence began, exactly 100 years ago. It took the Irish 750 years to get rid of the British occupation, which was much less brutal and ferocious than the Israeli one. ”

        read more:

      • amigo on January 24, 2016, 3:55 pm

        just , I attended the Gideon Levy event in Dublin and had the honour of shaking his hand but only managed a few words with him..He was as usual brilliant and fearless but for a change , he was among friends .No rude zionist rabble rousers and free speech tramplers.”NOT ONE”.

        The event was video taped so of I can get access I will post a link.

      • lysias on January 24, 2016, 3:58 pm

        The British occupation of Ireland may not have been that murderous in its last decades, but it certainly had been so during the Potato Famine in the 1840’s, something that was all too similar to the Bengali Famine of 1942-3 that the British and Churchill permitted. And British treatment of the Irish Easter Rebellion and of Sinn Fein (Black and Tans) had not exactly been gentle.

        If British brutality towards the Irish during the last decades of British rule was somewhat more moderate, the chief cause was the desire not to antagonize American opinion.

      • MHughes976 on January 24, 2016, 5:36 pm

        The recent television drama The Bridge III, a Danish-Swedish co-production, had as one of its themes the Danish view that the Swedes have an excessively earnest preoccupation with human rights. In real life, as far as I can tell, the new Prime Minjster, Mr. Rasmussen, seems to have avoided much involvement with the ME problem. I think the Danes will just keep quiet.

      • MHughes976 on January 24, 2016, 5:47 pm

        Miracles do happen, of course, but I think that Levy is right and Sfard unconvincing for the short and medium terms. It’s interesting that Sfard’s optimism flourishes on a visit to NY, the world capital of liberal Zionism. There must be many liberal Zionists telling themselves that the nightmare is almost over and that their consciences will soon be clear. But their readiness to tell themselves that is another reason why there is really very little current pressure on Israel. The provinces of the liberal Zionist empire seem to include every European country (perhaps the Swedes are a little restive) and significant religious organisation.

      • Amsterdam on January 24, 2016, 5:53 pm

        In support of Sweden’s FM Margot Wallström.

        Send the below text to the Swedish Embassy in your country. E-mail addresses of Swedish embassies and consulates worldwide are listed here:

        To the attention of Ms Margot Wallström,
        Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Sweden

        Dear Mrs. Wallström,

        I have taken notice of your stance on the necessity to investigate Israel’s extrajudicial killings of Palestinians. I have also noted the shameful reactions of Israeli leaders and others. It’s the ferocity and disgrace of these reactions that urge me to speak out in support of your remarks and integrity.

        I support your position that Israel should be held accountable for what are in fact proven extrajudicial killings. Amnesty International and other organisations have provided plenty of evidence, as in the case of Hadeel al-Hashlamoun, the young Palestinian woman who was executed point blank by the Israeli army. Much of this evidence is available online, ranging from reports to video’s and testimonies. They make clear that these killings are no exception, but part and parcel of the structural Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians.

        Its not that we don’t know about the Israeli atrocities. The problem is that we refuse to act on them. As a result the Palestinians pay the price and Israel goes unpunished – giving the country carte blanche to proceed, which is exactly what we are witnessing. This is why I applaud your principled stance. If no one acts, the remains of the Palestinian society will be destroyed before our eyes.

        I regret that the Foreign Minister of my own country has not acted, and has not expressed his support for Sweden. Please be informed that I will urge him to correct these failures.

        [name, city, country]

      • Sibiriak on January 24, 2016, 10:30 pm

        just: [Gideon Levy:] It happened in South Africa, the Soviet Union and Berlin….

        Keep in mind that the dismantlement of the Soviet Union (a “revolution from above”) came with an intense rise in ethno-cultural nationalism and separatism (not to mention a social and economic collapse that led to the deaths of millions)— quite the opposite of a 1S1P1V scenario.

    • just on January 24, 2016, 7:03 pm

      I’m so looking forward to your posting of his talk. I have such respect for him and you and Ireland too, amigo.

      Éirinn go Brách!

    • annie on January 24, 2016, 8:18 pm

      No rude zionist rabble rousers and free speech tramplers.”NOT ONE”.

      that sounds fantastic amigo. and you got to shake his hand too. tell us more about it!

    • Misterioso on January 25, 2016, 3:51 pm


  5. Ossinev on January 24, 2016, 11:35 am

    Great news.Hopefully they will be followed by all the other mayors in the Land of Creation and they will in turn call for a full boycott of Sweden and Sweden’s European partners will respond by supporting Sweden and boycott Israel including suspension and hopefully termination of Europe’s trade and tariff arrangements, diplomatic and visa arrangements , cultural links,sporting links etc

    Wishful thinking? Perhaps. But then again it seems like an own goal gifted to BDS by the ever arrogant Israelis and as the saying goes – “from little acorns”.

  6. diasp0ra on January 24, 2016, 11:54 am

    Keep isolating yourself some more Israel. Every time something like this happens they respond with “Oh it’s just x union” and then “oh it’s just an insignificant church group”.

    Have Israelis ever heard the term “death by a thousand cuts”?

    • annie on January 24, 2016, 5:11 pm

      “Oh it’s just x union” and then “oh it’s just an insignificant church group”.

      don’t forget they called brazilians diplomatic dwarves. who’s the dwarf?

  7. Kay24 on January 24, 2016, 11:59 am

    What feigned outrage, what drama queens. If they have a right to boycott so does the rest of the world….BDS?

  8. Mooser on January 24, 2016, 12:15 pm

    Okay, all you Zionist musicians, let’s throw away all those Nords.

  9. chocopie on January 24, 2016, 12:59 pm

    It seems that the mayors assume Germany and Denmark will not object to extrajudicial executions.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on January 24, 2016, 2:38 pm

      The Germans – or at least the German political class – is still so embued with Holocaust guilt that Netanyahu could personally tie them to the stocks and pelt them with rotten meat and they’d still say he was justified. I hope and expect that that will change soon, with a younger generation of Germans questioning why they have to support injustice against Palestinians simply because their ancestors committed terrible crimes against the ancestors of some of the Jewish population of Israel.

      About Denmark, I’m not so sure. The Nordic countries have traditionally had a deep sense of social justice, but Denmark has been lurching quite far to the right in recent years

  10. ritzl on January 24, 2016, 1:20 pm

    I think Israel and Israelis should boycott as many countries as possible for as long as possible.

    That’ll teach the rest of us for being against slaughtering children PRN.

    Yeah, youbetcha.

  11. Maximus Decimus Meridius on January 24, 2016, 2:32 pm

    Good news. Israel isolating itself still further. Showing the world that Israel is not a rational actor which responds to reasonable criticism. Making it impossible to criticise BDS without inviting accusations of hypocrisy. All great stuff. Israel is imploding before our eyes.

    • lonely rico on January 24, 2016, 8:07 pm

      >Maximus Decimus Meridius

      Israel is imploding before our eyes.

      The sad-faced clowns stumble across the stage
      indifferent to their own ugliness

      no longer hidden
      the blood of children
      seeping underfoot
      many children

      thousands of murdered Palestinian Children

  12. amigo on January 24, 2016, 3:18 pm

    Why the double standards.Why are they isolating Sweden.Ireland was at the forefront (with Sweden) on the latest EU clampdown on Israeli contraband making it to consumers shelves in EU stores.

    Why isn,t Ireland being boycotted.Do the zionists have something against we Irish.We allowed Gideon Levy the stage at the Abbey Theater last Friday where he spent 45 minutes telling the facts about Israel.He was never once interrupted and given a two minute standing ovation by circa 150 Irish anti semites. Doesn,t that rate a boycott.Do we have to increase our efforts to ensure we get equal treatment.

    • a blah chick on January 24, 2016, 4:45 pm

      The Irish get no respect.

      • RoHa on January 25, 2016, 4:56 am

        That’s because they talk funny.

        For example:

        “That is no country for old men. The young
        In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
        —Those dying generations—at their song,
        The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
        Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
        Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
        Caught in that sensual music all neglect
        Monuments of unageing intellect.”


        ” riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.”

        That’s just not normal.

      • amigo on January 25, 2016, 11:23 am

        That’s just not normal. RoHa

        Yates was trying to confuse the Brits with their own language .

      • Mooser on January 25, 2016, 1:33 pm

        “brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation…”

        And then I stayed for the duration of the obsequies. I should read it again. Yes, I should, all perfume yes, and my heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

      • RoHa on January 26, 2016, 4:10 am

        Yeats tried. Joyce succeeded.

  13. oldgeezer on January 24, 2016, 3:21 pm

    I fully support this decision and can only hope that theadd Canada to their boycott list. High time they refuse to deal with us. Please convince yur fellow citizens to do the same. I don’t know how he will survive without generic copies of medications. That will teach us.

    As lysias says at least it puts to rest any discussions about the evil nature of boycotts. Can’t wait for the (mafia) commission errrrrr knesset to outlaw this action. As if.

    +1 Sweden. You are a better place because of this.

  14. Shmuel on January 24, 2016, 4:19 pm

    In light of this, it has been decided to change the travel destination of the mayors to Germany and Denmark.

    Wimps. If they really wanted to teach those shvedim a lesson, they’d cancel the junket altogether! While they’re at it, why not cancel all freebies to countries with a cross on their national flag?

  15. annie on January 24, 2016, 5:21 pm

    i thought they were already boycotting sweden and ikea over that organ stealing article a couple years ago? lest one forget, the protest crowd in stockholm during the 2014 summer slaughter was HUGE: (it’s about 1/3 way down, just put ‘sweden’ in the search) something tells me swedes are not going to be shedding to many tears over this boycott. they are more likely to be celebrating.

    • a blah chick on January 24, 2016, 7:19 pm

      I think they should stop using Arabic numerals, that’ll show everyone!

      • annie on January 24, 2016, 8:15 pm

        that’s the spirit, show em what a real boycott looks like.

  16. dx on January 24, 2016, 6:12 pm

    Israeli officials have no sense of irony.

    Also, I think they should boycott American foreign aid since many Americans support BDS.

  17. Ossinev on January 25, 2016, 6:17 am

    “Why isn,t Ireland being boycotted”. You should be doubly even triply offended since “boycotting” was one of the all time great inventions of the Irish people in response to the actions of a settler estate agent. Can`t be long now before the Yahoo & Co claim that it in fact it was invented in Biblical Israel as a chosen people tactic against those nasty Romans.

  18. Talkback on January 25, 2016, 9:30 am

    Note to BDS:

    1.) Letter to Sweden asking them to disinvite 15 Israeli mayors is not necessary.
    2.) Letter to IKEA asking them to divest from Israel may not be longer necessary.

  19. Boo on January 25, 2016, 11:30 am

    Seems these mayors are 180 degrees off-message since Israel’s official line is that BDS is anti-Semitic, not anti-Israeli Government policy. So now I’m waiting for the Swedes to reply that this boycott is anti-Nordic.

Leave a Reply