More results...

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

More results...

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

Not So Neutral After All

This next story is guaranteed to make your blood boil.

The welfare – perhaps even the lives – of five Swedish children is being sacrificed on the altar of political expediency.

 

Swedish mother Elizabeth Krantz’s five children were kidnapped from Sweden back in June 2004 by her estranged Palestinian husband Ismail Nowajah. The children – Adam, Amina, Zakarias, Miriam and Sara – range in age from six to sixteen. They were taken to the Gaza Strip against their will and in contravention of Swedish law, and have since been incarcerated in separate locations. Their mother, from a small town outside Gothenburg on Sweden’s west coast, has official custody of the children, with visitation rights granted to her estranged husband.

 

Ismail Nowajah says he disapproves of the upbringing the children were getting in Sweden, where they were born, and that he wishes to bring them up according to a stricter Islamic code, which he says cannot be done in Sweden but is possible in Gaza.

—-

The children are Swedes. They are unfamiliar with Arab culture and have no knowledge of the Arabic language. They are thus unable to communicate with the surroundings into which they have been forcibly thrust. They are being denied schooling, and 15-year-old Miriam suffers from an unusual form of diabetes – type 1 – that requires special medication, treatment that has thus far been denied her by her father.

Kidnapping is wrong, no matter how strong one’s religious principles, which in this case are not really that strong at all…

However, he has signaled that he is willing to release the children back into the custody of their mother against a payment of five million Swedish kronor (about 720,000 US dollars).

It’s called demanding a ransom.

 

For their part, the Swedes are utterly unhelpful. For a start, they don’t understand their own laws (or do understand them, but bend them to accommodate their own biases).

Commenting on the case, the Swedish Foreign Office noted that the situation is highly sensitive since the children have dual nationality – Swedish and Palestinian – and that according to Palestinian law, the children are the wards of their father.

 

This is a remarkable point of view on several accounts. Firstly, because Swedish law applies to Swedish citizens, the more so since they were kidnapped from Sweden. No other legislation is relevant until the children have been returned home. The father is in breach of Swedish law, for a crime committed in Sweden.

 

The second consideration is the illogic of the Foreign Office’s standpoint: the children do not – and in point of law can not – have dual nationality. There is no country called Palestine. While the emergence of such a country may well be a highly desirable goal for reasons of geopolitical interest, Palestine does not today exist. The children therefore do not have dual nationality, and Sweden accordingly need take no such consideration into account.

—-

What is even more remarkable about Sweden’s claim that the children are citizens of a country called Palestine, is that Sweden at the same time provides asylum to countless Palestinians as “stateless refugees”. They are apparently both stateless and nationals – depending on the political niceties at stake.

Question: Could this situation get more absurb. Answer: yes.

In the most recent twist to the plight of the five kidnapped children, they have now been enrolled by UNWRA as refugees. Sweden is one of the largest per capita contributors to United Nations aid in the Gaza Strip, and is now in the remarkable position of witnessing the kidnapping of its own citizens from the country of their birth, seeing them incarcerated against their will in a foreign country – which according to the political needs of the day either exists as a legal entity or does not – and then paying from its own coffers to maintain them as refugees in their place of imprisonment.

Mind you, this is not much more absurd than the regular UNRWA definition of PLO Arab refugees, which covers the descendants of persons who became refugees in 1948.

 

The Swedes are also doing everything in their power not to do anything in their power.

The situation is a logic-defying absurdity that has been further exacerbated by the impenetrable wall of obstruction thrown in the face of the children’s mother by the Swedish Foreign Office. It was not until she packed her bags and flew to Israel on her own cognizance that Elisabeth Krantz was finally able to meet her children, albeit for only a few short hours before she was forced to leave them again. Their desperate plea: “When are we coming home?”

 

Mr Jan Norlander of the Swedish Foreign Office repeated most recently in a radio interview on Monday the 15th of November that his staff have to tread most carefully in this highly volatile area, as they do not want to expose either themselves or Elisabeth Krantz to danger. That is not an argument that is calculated to put Elisabeth’s mind at ease. She took the risk that the Swedish consular staff are paid to take on her behalf and visited her children. At no time have the Swedish consular staff attempted to visit the children themselves to monitor their condition, or offered their mother the opportunity to do so.

—-

Swedish Foreign Minister Ms. Laila Freivalds visited Ramallah back in September 2004 and maintains that she received assurances from Yasser Arafat that he had dealt with the issue, and that the children would soon be on their way home. That was then, Mr. Arafat is no more, and the children are still imprisoned without access to either medical care or schooling.

 

Elisabeth Krantz contacted Swedish Member of Parliament Yvonne Ruwaida – herself a Palestinian – in the hope that Ms. Ruwaida might feel a strong inclination to have the matter cleared up smoothly and swiftly. MP Ruwaida did not even acknowledge receipt of the letter.

 

There was some hope that Swedish Prime Minister Gצran Persson’s attendance at Yasser Arafat’s funeral might assist in opening doors to the Palestinian hierarchy – after all, Prime Minister Persson was accompanied by Arafat’s lifelong friend, former Swedish Foreign Minister Sten Andersson. However, they landed in Cairo and like most of the non-Arab participants, witnessed the proceedings from afar, returning to Sweden within two hours of touching down.

(Thank you to all the readers who sent me links to this story)

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Scroll to Top