Government budget initiatives to combat antisemitism and support Jewish life
Combatting antisemitism is a high priority for the Government. The budget presented on 20 September includes several initiatives to enhance and shore up these continued efforts. This includes funding to the Jewish Museum, the Living History Forum and the Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities, and state aid for security-heightening measures.
Increased knowledge and initiatives targeting younger people to prevent antisemitism
“Because antisemitism and other forms of racism are often transgenerational, initiatives directed towards younger people are especially important. In this year’s budget, we allocated funds for remembrance trips to enable children and young people to continue to have the possibility to travel to Holocaust memorial sites. We have also set aside funds for a broad attitude survey on online antisemitism so as to better understand and combat this detestable form of hate ideology,” says Minister for Culture Parisa Liljestrand.
To combat antisemitism, knowledge about its spread and propagation is needed. Increasing, updating and deepening knowledge about antisemitism in society and its spread online will improve the prospects for preventing it. For this reason, the Government is allocating funds to the Living History Forum to conduct an attitude survey aimed at increasing knowledge about antisemitism in Sweden and how it is spread online.
The Government is also allocating funds for educational initiatives and remembrance trips to Holocaust memorial sites. This support for remembrance trips makes it possible for pupils and school staff to gain in-depth knowledge about the Holocaust and Nazi Germany’s crimes against Jews, Roma and other groups. Remembrance trips can also impart an understanding of the mechanisms behind antisemitism and other forms of racism both in the past and today.
Awareness-raising initiatives on the history of the Jewish minority in Sweden
There is also need for knowledge-enhancing initiatives on the history of the Jewish minority in Sweden and Swedish-Jewish cultural heritage. The Government is therefore granting funding to the Jewish Museum in Stockholm for ‘Traces of Existence’, an exhibition on Jewish life in Värmland County. The aim is to highlight Swedish-Jewish cultural heritage and re-discover a forgotten and little-known part of the Jewish minority’s history in Sweden.
Government allocates funds to combat racism
“Sweden should be a country without racism or hate crimes. Racism and other expressions of xenophobia and discrimination are harmful not only to the victims, but society as a whole. They contribute to polarisation and must be combatted with full force. We are therefore allocating additional funding to combat racism and hate crimes,” says Minister for Gender Equality and Working Life Paulina Brandberg.
Efforts to combat racism and other expressions of xenophobia and discrimination are being enhanced. This includes combatting antisemitism. The Government intends to allocate SEK 20 million to these efforts for 2024. As a result, approximately SEK 48.5 million will be available for these initiatives next year.
Increased state aid for security-heightening measures
The Jewish minority has highlighted security as the single most important issue. In the budget presented in September, the Government proposed that state aid for security-heightening measures to civil society organisations should be increased by SEK 30 million to a total of SEK 74 million annually. This aid is an important complement to the work of the Swedish Police Authority to maintain public security.
“In discussions [I’ve had] with faith communities in Sweden, many have indicated that they have been subjected to threats and hatred. Jewish communities, in particular, are now increasingly fearful of threats and violence, and are encouraging their members to refrain from wearing Jewish symbols, which is a very serious development. The central government has a fundamental responsibility for the security of people so that they can safely practice their faith individually or together with others. Freedom of religion and freedom of association are central to Swedish democracy. These rights apply to everyone, and this is not negotiable,” says Minister for Social Affairs and Public Health Jakob Forssmed.
Additional support to the Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities
In October, the Government also decided on two amendments concerning support to faith communities. Entailing an additional SEK 10 million in support to the Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities for 2023. In addition to the previously announced SEK 30 million in additional funding, this support will go towards security-enhancing measures presented in the Government’s Budget Bill. At the same time, the Government decided to amend state aid for security-enhancing measures for civil society organisations so as to ensure that support goes to the organisations with the greatest needs. In concrete terms, this means that management of the support will be shifted from the Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency to the Swedish Commission for Government Support to Faith Communities at the end of the year, and that a special activity grant will be introduced with the aim of creating conditions for a long-term security grant.