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Find More Articles By Wilhelmson

Our friend Lasse Wilhelmson, a long-time activist of the struggle for Palestine, became so marginalised that it aches. Now, on the Day of Jerusalem (El Kuds Day) he and his friend Mohammed Omar were attacked by a weird coalition of (1) Jewish antisionists, (2) antifascists, (3) exile Iranians-against- Ahmadinejad. Read his story in order to understand this most unusual combination of factors:

Sad Story from Sweden

Lasse Wilhelmson

When I arrived in Sergels torg (Sergel’s Plaza) there was an ongoing manifestation against the current regime of Iran. The manifestation was dominated by exile Iranians and Iranian flags carrying the symbol of the Shah, and members of the Worker-communist Party of Iran (WPI) who handed out leaflets.
There were many Swedes who sold the Trotskyist newspaper Internationalen, and different autonomous, anarchist and syndicalist groups in their characteristic clothing. I recognized leading persons from Palestinagruppperna (PGS) (Solidarity Movement for Palestine) and from ISM (International Solidarity Movement) in Sweden. Both organizations had denounced the Al Quds Day manifestation and urged all friends of Palestine not to take part on the grounds that the speakers, namely Mohamed Omar and Lasse Wilhelmson, had made “statements” that they were unable to support. They did not specify what those “statements” where. There were also Jewish Zionists familiar to me (the Zionist Jonathan Leman from eXpo (a Swedish anti-racist magazine) and SKMA (The Swedish Committee Against Antisemitism (Swedish: Svenska Kommittén Mot Antisemitism) ) with his camera crew) who photographed the demonstrators for future identification. The groups mentioned stayed behind in order to protest against the ensuing Al Quds manifestation.
I arrived in Sergels torg on the “wrong” side, i.e. above the large and wide stairs towards Åhlen’s. Before I could walk around to the other side, where the speeches where to be made, a handful of young persons from ISM and possibly from the Swedish AFA (Anti Fascist Action) spotted me. They of course know who I am and what I look like. The biggest and most aggressive of them badmouthed me, violently pushed me and wrestled me down on the street. The others helped to squash the placards that I had brought with me. The placards said “Free Palestine”, “Boycott Israel”, “Shut down Israel”, “Long Live Hezbollah and Hamas”, “Warsaw and Gaza” (in a cross, in Swedish; ”Warszawa och Gaza”, with the Z as the common letter), “Zionism” (crossed over), “No to USrael’s War Politics – Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Somalia, the same occupation” and “Al Quds Jerusalem Day”.
I called for help from bystanders and especially one middle-aged Palestinian man resolutely and successfully interfered in my defense, but also a younger person. A band of boys in their lower teens discovered what was said on the placards, informed me that they where Palestinians, and that they wanted to “beat up” the hoodlums and asked me who they where. But I managed to dissuade this arguing that there were some really big guys there. They where, however, rather touching and warmed my old heart.
Shora Ismail (Andreas Malm’s woman), who has for a long time been a leading person within ISM in Sweden and who is of Iranian family background, afterwards approached me when I was collecting the remains of my plackards. She said that “[people] such as yourself should not be allowed here” (I recognize her very well since many years and we have also previously worked together in the Boycott Israel Network, and taken part in public debates). Then she walked over to the person who had jumped on me – I know him from before, he was standing four meters away – and gave him a hug and kisses on his cheek. Shora later took part in the counterdemonstratio n.
I wasn’t hurt but I filed a police report on the assault and the infliction of damage, on the prompting of a police officer who overheard me telling the organizers what had happened to me. I did this because the organizers asked me what had happened to my placards as they were broken. The officer explained that this was important in principle since what had happened had political motives and can be viewed as a hate crime, which is an aggravating circumstance.

The counterdemonstrator s threw eggs and fruit even at women and children.
The counterdemonstrator s were about 500 – somewhat more numerous than us. They had gathered in the wide stairs and on the “balcony” above the plaza, which was physically sealed off by a long line of police vehicles and by plastic ribbon fencing. They were chanting slogans against Islam and Arabs, so that it was difficult to hear our speeches. They even threw eggs and fruit at women and children, who were about half of the demonstrators.
The majority of the demonstrators where Muslim Arabs. Even so, the Al Quds manifestation was conducted as planned. Palestinian youths led the speech choirs.
I must confess that it was a rather strange experience to watch people from the organization for Palestinian solidarity in Sweden, and from the ISM and assorted leftists – who call themselves friends of the Palestinians –, together with Marxist and royalist Iranians hostile to the Islamic Republic disturbing a solemn manifestation for Palestine and booing when we chanted “Boycott Israel” and “Free Palestine”. What happened here will surely have far-reaching consequences for the anti-imperialistic work in Sweden, and especially for the solidarity work for the Palestinians.
It is only on the Al Quds Day that anti-Zionist manifestations are arranged in Sweden in support of Palestine, and so it is since several decades. On all other prior occasions the Zionist organization Jews for Israeli-Palestinian Peace Sweden (JIPF) has been allowed to control the main slogans which therefore never have included the most basic demand of the Palestinians evicted in Al Nakba, namely their inalienable right to return — which the UN made a condition of its decision to grant Israel membership in 1948.
PS1 I wish to express my sincere gratitude to those people who assisted me when I was attacked and I feel great happiness and honour to have been allowed to be one of the two main speakers at the Al Quds Day manifestation in Stockholm in 2009. I will never forget the tears flowing down the old Palestinian man’s face when he embraced me and thanked me for my speech. He told me how he had personally experienced al-Nakba 1948.

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