Cordelia Edvardson’s Disappointments

I have been very reluctant to criticise Cordelia Edvardson, prize-winning journalist who has come to personify, not only thoughtful reflection over Jewish sufferings, but also the Palestinians’ situation. She is as humanitarian as it is possible for a Zionist to be, with all the limitations that entails. Her perspective is, of course, coloured by her encounters with Auschwitz and more — causing a lifelong trauma, as is the case with so many Jews. Cordelia is, like most others with similar experiences, anxious to remind us of Nazi crimes committed against the Jews so as to make sure they will not occur again — we must suppose — to people other than themselves?

In her column in Svenska Dagbladet, Cordelia has repeatedly given vent to her disappointment that compassion for others who are suffering detracts from the historic suffering of the Jews. Despite risking the usual reflex outcry from our Swedish Israel-huggers, I would like to comment somewhat on this. My reason is, that Cordelia’s columns give the impression that Jews are worth more than, for example, the Palestinians. A racist-orientated opinion that I do not share.

Cornelia’s Svenska Dagbladet column of the 20th November 2008 had the theme ‘We, the survivors, have survived ourselves’. The piece reflects considerable disappointment. Disappointment that ‘we the survivors’ have been rendered invisible and that Dagens Nyheter had not recognised one of the many individual stories told by Jews about Nazi Germany. Cordelia’s column ends with the cynical cry: ‘Bring on some new, fresh genocides instead.’ Understood as meaning — if the one committed against the Jews won’t do any more… Dear Cordelia, there is no need for ‘new fresh genocides’. There is one already – the one against the Palestinians that has been going on since 1948. Where the Jews’ guilt is comparable to that of the Germans’ you describe in your column. Did you forget that, or do Jews have the exclusive right to victimisation, thus always able to morally justify being the executioner?

The discussion following Israel’s massacre in Gaza, that ironically started soon after Cordelia had cried out for ‘some new fresh genocides’, upset her again. Not Israel’s systematic destruction of mosques, hospitals and schools and the use of phosphor bombs, or the routine execution of defenceless civilians in the world’s largest open-air prison. No, what upset her was the comparison of this massacre with the one committed by the Germans against the Jews in the ghettos of Warsaw. ‘How can one justify this evil desecration of those (the Jews, my comment) who were murdered?’ she asks.

So, here we have the historic lesson of the Holocaust, not that it must never happen again, even to others, but that reference to it happening again entails the abuse of ‘Those who were murdered (the Jews, my comment) in a sordid PR war’, as her Svenska Dagbladet column headline reads on March 26th 2009.

I am personally very happy to have dispensed with the sort of mentality that expresses itself in this way.

Täby March 26th, 2009

Lasse Wilhelmson

PS 1: Svenska Dagbladet and Dagens Nyheter are the two biggest morning newspapers in Sweden.

PS 2: As usual it is in Haaretz we are able to read about events that never appear in Swedish newspapers, like this one by Amira Hass:

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