By Nordstjernan columnist Ulf Nilson, June 2010

A well known Swedish writer sent his newspaper a column (not unlike the one you just began reading). It contained the following information:


Since 2005, when the Israelis left Gaza, some 6,000 rockets have been fired by Hamas into an area where some 1 million civilians live.
Within 20 minutes, the writer had an e-mail from his editor, who asked:
"Where does this information come from? I have seen nothing like it."
What this episode illustrates are the following facts:
1. It has been a long time since media in Sweden mentioned the fact that Hamas, a terrorist organization that took over Gaza, has been very actively trying to kill—mainly at random—as many Israelis as possible. Some three lethal rockets a day, mean war, no?
2. During the last year, Israel has more and more been depicted as the guilty party, guilty of repression, bombings, arrogance and the like, a state that had better not exist.
The Swedish writer answered his editor that the information came from the British newsweekly Economist, one of the most reliable publications on earth. This cut the ice and the column was published—only to be widely condemned as “anti Palestinian.”
This occurred immediately after the “Ship to Gaza” events which in Sweden drew wide and violent condemnation of Israel, which indeed handled the confrontation in a ham handed and quite unintelligent way. Why attack? Why kill people? Why not just force the ships into Ashdod and search them?
To these questions, I have no answers, except that the Israelis may have felt they wanted to show the world (and particularly their adversaries) that they are not going to take any … well, you know what … from anybody….
Anyway, not the least in Sweden, media overwhelmingly “forgot” to tell not only about the rockets (smuggled from Iran via the tunnels under the border to Egypt) but also that “Ship to Gaza” was a very clear anti-Israeli provocation. Onboard, people like Swedish professor Mattias Gardell, with clear connections to the Weather Underground* in the U.S., sang “death to the Jews,” and opined that Israel should not exist. As the amount of foodstuffs and cement and things they pretended to want to bring in was not important (some five days worth), there is no reason to believe the whole thing was anything but a propaganda stunt. Or worse: a provocation, an attempt to make Israel look truly bad.
And so it goes. For the first part of its existence, from roughly 1948 to 1967, Israel was the brave underdog. Then it slowly came to be seen as the big bully of the Middle East. The Palestinians changed from occupiers in the Lebanon to PLO (kicked away to Tunis), to Fatah, plus Hizbollah and Hamas, not very potent organizations, but capable of terrorism and supportive of the governments of Syria and Iran, were both somewhat unstable and, let it be said, whacko.
And therein lies the big problem. It seems all but certain that in the coming years (be it one, two or five) Iran will have the ultimate weapon, the atomic bomb ... meaning that it will almost certainly have the capacity to annihilate Israel, making it pretty much uninhabitable, small as it is. Since the Israelis are not going to passively let this happen (would you?), there is every possibility that they will use their own nukes preventively. So: There will be an attempt to “sterilize” Iran by taking out bomb factories, reactors and the like.
All this. If there are no true, honest and meaningful negotiations and a peace worthy of the name.
Which way will it go?
As somebody who has followed the game closely since 1956 when I was first in Israel, Sinai and Egypt, I am not an optimist. The destructiveness of weapons has become immensely larger through the years. The rationalism and tolerance of human beings has not (witness North Korea, Iran and a host of countries in Africa). Fanaticism is ripe even in Europe, yes, even in Sweden—reread the above.
With this I wish you a warm and peaceful summer.…

*The Weather Underground Organization known colloquially as the Weathermen is an American radical left organization