On 23 January, the day after the Israeli elections, Aftonbladet published an editorial with the headline “Israel casts its ballot for increased violence”. Not for the first time, Aftonbladet chooses to present a distorted image of Israel and the region, in portraying Israel and the Israeli democracy as the cause of the conflict and problems in the region.
Aftonbladet has declined to publish the reply, which Ambassador Bachman sent to the paper in order to counter its highly problematic claims. The text can be seen below. The ambassador also requested a meeting with the paper which Aftonbladet agreed to. The meeting is supposed to take place next week.
Aftonbladet’s article can be read, in full, by clicking on the following link:
Israel röstar för mer våld – Aftonbladet 2013-01-23
THE DISTORTED ANALYSIS OF ISRAEL CONTINUES IN AFTONBLADET
When reading Aftonbladet´s editorial “Israel casts its vote for more violence” published on January 23 – the day after the Israeli parliamentary elections – it is difficult to shake off the impression that the conclusions were given beforehand and that the article must have been ready long before the picture of the election results emerged. Reality was not allowed to disturb the polemical agenda.
Despite the fact that the Middle East is dominated by dictatorships, it is clearly the only democracy of the Middle East – Israel – and the Israeli parliamentary elections which according to Aftonbladet are to be held responsible for violence and conflict in the region. If anything, they ought rather to be held up as an example.
I share in Aftonbladet´s wish for better neighbourly relations in the Middle East. These, however, are highly dependent precisely on Israel´s neighbours. At a time when extreme religious ideologies of violence have large parts of the region in their grip and large numbers of people die daily in the Syrian bloodshed, it is time to raise the gaze and broaden the analysis.
The fact is that analysts across the world as well as here in Sweden have been unanimous in their assessment that the election results are an impressive show of strength for Israeli centrist forces. To construe all of this as meaning that the Israeli people has “cast its vote for more violence” is hardly a correct – or fair – analysis. Free and open, democratic elections moreover is not what leads to violence – the absence of them does.
The above example is only one among many over the years of how Aftonbladet – a respected and leading newspaper – constantly chooses to put a polemical agenda before a nuanced description of reality when it comes to Israel. Not only the paper´s readers should have the right to expect more, but also all of those people in the region who know only too well that it is extremism and the many dictatorships of the Middle East – not the Israeli democracy – which is the problem.
Ambassador of Israel to Sweden