Paris, 12 October 2010
In a letter to City Mayors and World Mayor coordinator, Tann vom Hove, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, praised the organization's annual election of 'World Mayors' who "excel in…leadership and vision, management abilities and integrity,social and economic awareness, ABILITY TO PROVIDE SECURITY…to FOSTER GOOD RELATIONS BETWEEN COMMUNITIES from different cultural,racial and social backgrounds”.
Nevertheless, Samuels expressed concern that "one of the 25 mayors shortlisted for the 2010 award, has reportedly contradicted the very qualities highlighted above. Mr.Ilmar Reepalu, is Mayor of Malmo, a Swedish city of some 300,000 of which over 60,000 are Muslim and 756 are Jews."
The letter continued "on 27 January 2010, international Holocaust Commemoration Day, the daily Skanska Dagbladet began a series of articles on Malmo’s Jews, many of whom were helped by Danish fishermen to flee the Nazis to neutral Sweden. Others sought refuge from Communist Poland’s anti-Jewish incitement in 1968. The articles described their current harassment by neighbouring Muslim youth incited by Jihadist satellite television and websites - facts substantiated by the local police."
Samuels stressed that "when interviewed, Mayor Reepalu blamed the situation on the Jews themselves as the community did not 'distance itself from Israel', thereby extraterritorialing his Jewish citizens and questioning their very loyalty to Sweden. He strangely told the Judisk Kronika (Jewish Chronicle),'the community showed no sympathy for me when I was threatened by the extreme right'."
The Centre noted that,"as several of the children and grandchildren of those who sought refuge in Sweden, began to flee Malmo, Reepalu denied that Jews were ever attacked, adding for the British Sunday Telegraph,'…if they choose to leave, there is nothing [he] could do about it, 'then presenting himself as the victim of an 'Israeli' lobby smear campaign out to silence him."
The letter added that "Reepalu claimed his comments to the press had been distorted, until the correspondent publicized the recorded interviews, proving that the Mayor had not been misquoted. Thereupon, he briefly launched a cosmetic 'Dialogue Forum for Jews and Muslims', at the same time repeating his call for the former to denounce Israeli policy and equating 'Zionism' (the right of the Jewish people to sovereign self-determination) with 'antisemitism'(the racism that resulted in the Holocaust)."
The Centre argued that "a Mayor who fails to stand up for all his citizens cannot be a role model and what Reepalu has said and done against Sweden’s Jews, especially in Malmo, should disqualify his candidacy for World Mayor 2010."
"Your website notes that all of the candidates must sign a Code of Ethics. As one, who was advised by the worshippers after the Friday night prayers 'not to leave the synagogue for my hotel, for fear of assault', I consider it unthinkable that Mayor Reepalu could subscribe to Article 2 of the Code: 'Mayors shall not discriminate against individuals or groups because of their race, religion, gender, disability or sexual orientation...'or even to your Mission Statement's commitment 'to provide security' for all his citizens".
"Mr.vom Hove,cancel Reepalu’s candidacy which arguably tarnishes the reputation of your World Mayor prize," urged the Centre.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).
For further information contact Dr. Shimon Samuels on 0033 (0) 609770158, join the Center on Facebook, , or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.