Tässä kirjoittamiani kolumneja ja muita tekstejä (ruotsiksi ja englanniksi).
Asylsökande utnyttjas grovt
De har inga rättigheter. De kan inte klaga. De måste bara tacka och ta emot – annars blir de visade dörren.
För några månader sedan lärde jag känna en person som kom att stå mig mycket nära. Han är asylsökande från Mellanöstern och har varit i Finland i tre år och väntar fortfarande på att få uppehållstillstånd. Skulle han återvända till sitt hemland skulle han riskera sitt liv av anledningar som jag av hänsyn till honom inte kommer att gå in på. Men man börjar ju undra vad denna utdragna process egentligen handlar om.
I ett drygt år har denne man arbetat på ett statligt ägt bolag och både hans egna och hans asylsökande kollegers berättelser visar hur detta (observera statliga!) bolag utnyttjar dessa desperata människor.
Mannen i fråga jobbar natt (naturligtvis för en väldigt låg timlön) och han vet aldrig riktigt hur långt hans arbetspass kommer att vara. Slutar han ”tidigt” går inga bussar hemåt och han får promenera i regn och rusk – och snart snöslask – i en timme för att komma hem.
Bolaget i fråga utnyttjar denna billiga arbetskraft bland annat genom att inte skicka ut scheman i tid – och schemana verkar vara minst sagt oklara och oregelbundna – vilket får de asylsökande, som naturligtvis inte känner till finländska lagar och regler, att bara jobba på. Natt efter natt. När lönen sedan kommer så saknas det ersättning för en massa arbetspass.
”Men varför jobbade du på dina lediga dagar eller nätter?” får de höra när de ifrågasätter lönen (om de vågar, vill säga).
Jag hörde just ett skräckexempel om hur en person hade jobbat 13 nätter i följd och endast fått betalt för tre(!).
De som kommer från en helt annan kultur vet naturligtvis inte hur saker och ting fungerar i Finland, och de som inte ens talar engelska utnyttjas så klart värst.
Mannen som jag inledde denna text med har under flera månader upplevt samma sak. Bara för ett par dagar sedan fick han sin lön och det fattades ersättning för åtta nätter. Efter många om och men sade han att han inte längre bryr sig om pengarna. Han ville bara att arbetsledaren skulle erkänna att det var hennes fel. Denna erkände att det delvis var hennes fel, men någon korrigering var det dock inte tal om.
Och inte bara det. För ett tag sedan var den asylsökande mannen sjuk i så hög feber att han knappt kunde gå. Han sjukskrev sig och fick nästa dag höra att om han inte kommer till jobbet följande natt ”så stannar du hemma i en månad och sedan avslutar vi ditt kontrakt”.
På detta sätt hotar cheferna på detta statliga bolag dessa utsatta människor. De har inga rättigheter. De kan inte klaga. De måste bara tacka och ta emot – annars blir de visade dörren. Och det kan leda till en massa andra konsekvenser – som ett negativt svar på asylansökan exempelvis.
Dessutom verkar all kontakt mellan arbetsgivare och arbetstagare gå via sms-meddelanden. Jag har tagit del av dessa konversationer och utan att gå in på några detaljer kan jag avslöja att det inte är någon trevlig läsning.
”Jag måste vara galen som kom till Finland”, sade min vän, ”men jag ville bara bort från krig och elände och få leva i lugn och ro och göra rätt för mig. Men då vill jag också bli rättvist behandlad.”
Skamligt är bara förnamnet.
Publicerad i Hufvudstadsbladet, oktober 2018
Svensk eller finne?
Hur vi än försöker få folk att förstå att vi är finnar födda i Sverige får vi höra att vi minsann är svenskar.
Sedan jag flyttade till Helsingfors för knappt två år sedan har jag stött på otaliga andra sverigefinländare som ”återvänt hem”. Samtliga har, liksom jag, fötts i Sverige med finska föräldrar och dessa nya bekantskaper har vittnat om samma sak som jag: rotlösheten.
I Sverige förnekade vi vår finskhet och vi ville mer än någonting annat bli sedda som svenskar. Trots att vi talade flytande svenska utan brytning och var ”kulturellt svenska” så bubblade alltid finskheten under ytan. Folk påminde oss ständigt om att vi i själva verket var finnar. Så vi packade till slut våra väskor och flyttade ”hem”.
Väl i Finland ses vi ständigt som svenskar. Hur vi än försöker få folk att förstå att vi är finnar födda i Sverige får vi höra att vi minsann är svenskar. Speciellt vi som har en liten brytning när vi talar finska (den berömda ”svenska melodin” gör sig ständigt påmind).
Rotlösheten dyker upp igen.
En sverigefinländare som numera bor i Finland – är han eller hon fortfarande sverigefinländare eller är han helt enkelt en finne som har kommit hem?
Publicerad i Hufvudstadsbladet, juli 2018
Är jag redan kasserad?
Jag har sökt alla slags jobb. Dock utan resultat.
Jag flyttade från Sverige till Finland för två och ett halvt år sedan. Dels ville jag få en nystart i livet, dels började jag intressera mig mer och mer för mina finländska rötter.
Jag har verkligen kommit att älska detta mitt nygamla hemland och inte minst den fantastiska huvudstaden.
Men det är något som skaver.
Jag söker jobb efter jobb, men jag får inte napp. Trots bra papper i bagaget – inte minst rekommendationer från tidigare arbetsgivare – så har jag nu varit arbetslös i två år.
Jag har blivit kallad till ett fåtal intervjuer och de har gjort klart för mig att de ”gillat mig” och allt har känts hoppfullt, men sedan har jag ändå några dagar senare tagit emot ett meddelande där jag tackas för visat intresse ”men den här gången blev du inte utvald”.
Jag har nu börjat misstänka att jag helt enkelt är för gammal. Vid 43 års ålder – är jag redan kasserad?
Jag vill påpeka att jag har sökt alla slags jobb. Inte bara inom min tidigare bransch (it) utan även de ”enklaste” jobb på lager, i butik, på fabrik etcetera.
Dock utan resultat.
Utan de rätta kontakterna och med en skyhög ålder på hela 43 år – hur ska jag lyckas hitta ett jobb? Jag vill nämligen stanna i Finland. Tips mottages med tacksamhet.
Publicerad i Hufvudstadsbladet, maj 2018
Blue And White
Long time no see.
You see, I’ve been very busy.
After much consideration I decided to leave the country I was born in.
The country I grew up in.
That I loved.
The country that gave me a very good start in life.
And a feeling of being very safe.
This once such a blooming place on earth.
Now so lost.
If you’ve been following the reports about what’s happening in Sweden you know what I’m talking about.
If you are – just like I am – a political news junkie, you can only imagine how frustrating it is to live in such a country.
It sucks the energy out of you.
When I – just a simple and caring man – began writing about Israel all those years ago, to try to wake the Swedes up to a new reality regarding Israel, I suddenly found myself trying to wake them up regarding Sweden.
But the heads were busy getting deeper and deeper buried in the sand.
The people of Sweden have been brainwashed for decades.
Not only regarding Israel, but also regarding their own country.
The journalists haven’t been JOURNALISTS for years and years, but rather they’ve been busy trying to educate people according to the journalists’ own political views and their own agenda.
The political leadership have gone from bad to worse.
I saw no future in Sweden.
Quite frankly Sweden scares me.
The country that I loved so much.
I don’t recognize it anymore.
I feel totally disconnected to this New Sweden.
So I chose to leave.
Thankfully I had an easy way out: my other homeland Finland.
Sweden and Finland – geographically so close, but intellectually, and on so many levels, miles and miles apart.
The Finns have fought for their country.
They don’t take it for granted.
The Finnish people know that everything can be lost, so one must take care of what one’s got.
Much like the Israelis, the Finns are living in reality.
The Swedes are living in la la land.
My ultimate goal is still to live permanently in Israel one day, but until then you know where to find me.
Oh, and indeed: blue and white go so well together!
Publicerad på The Times of Israel, december 2015.
We Brush It Off And Rise Again
I’m in Israel again.
I guess it’s my 13th visit. Or perhaps 14th?
It’s great to be back and I’ve actually loved these incredibly rainy days in Tel Aviv.
It’s been a different kind of trip, for various reasons – not only weather wise. Much more soul searching and spiritual fuelling, and less barhopping and shopping. (Well, I do need my dose of the shuk and the glorious bookstores filled with books on Judaism and Israel!)
It’s time to clean out the old and bring in the new.
A cleansing inside out.
Like I wrote on my Facebook page last night:
“Celebrating a new chapter in my life, and I’m doing it with a third tattoo.
Thank you, Israel, for the energy you give me, and thank you for helping me become a better version of myself.
I love you.”
Because that is my experience time after time.
I visit your lovely little strip of land and it recharges me.
My poor old soul suddenly feels young and fresh.
I feel stronger. I realise that I can do anything, and everything is actually possible. (OK not everything, but a lot of things.)
So thank you, Israel, for giving me so much.
I imagine you, Israel, as a very old lady – yet very perky and with a lot of humour.
Plus you’re pretty hot too, Lady Israel.
It’s been an interesting year. In many ways a horrible year (despite four trips to the Holy Land).
But I am now moving on and now entering a new chapter in my life.
(AKA midlife crisis.)
I brush it all off and rise again – much like Israel.
2015 is going to be fantastic!
Healthy, happy and harmonious.
And I will officially become a Jew!
So, Lady Israel, hopefully you love me as much as I love you.
And together we’ll walk hand in hand into a bright and peaceful future.
Publicerad på The Times of Israel, november 2014.
With Rockets Flying Over My Head
Last night I came back from Israel.
Stockholm greeted me with rain and 12 degrees.
I immediately wanted to turn around and return to Israel.
This – my 12th – trip was pretty different from the previous ones.
For the first time ever, I got to experience war.
I got to experience the sirens. The booms. The panic and the drama.
My friends in Tel Aviv were all talking about the rockets.
The rockets that I’ve been nagging about on social media for the past few years.
Now I know what I’m talking about.
I assumed they were scary – and now I know that they are.
One evening as I was lying in bed, working on my computer, I suddenly heard that horrible sound that meant: “Incoming rockets from Gaza. They are trying to kill us all”.
I went to a safer place in the apartment that I was staying in, and my host, who just made Aliyah a few months ago, hugged me as we heard the loud booms, and felt the house shake. Then loud booms again.
My heart was beating faster than ever and my hands were shaking.
People – at least in Sweden – often claim that “those are just home-made rockets”. Almost as if talking about fireworks.
No, those rockets are dangerous. They are terror.
Another day, early in the morning, I woke up to the sound of the sirens.
I ran half-naked to the staircase, and said “Boker Tov” to the half-naked neighbours. It turned out to be a false alarm, but nevertheless. It was not a nice way to start the day.
My Israeli friends told me stories about how their kids react to these alarms: that they are stressed and nervous. Don’t want to be alone. Don’t want to go outside.
One friends told me about how her daughter – scared and stressed – decided to hug the neighbour’s shaking dog in the shelter.
Now they comfort each other every time the sirens go off. Heartbreaking.
In difficult times people tend to come together, and I noticed that in Israel. Every one was just a little friendlier. A little calmer.
But I also noticed that life had to go on.
The streets of Tel Aviv were a little emptier than before, but people (including myself and my friends) went out for dinner. Had a nice chat. A laugh. And we always knew where the nearest bomb shelter was located.
This experience made me connect even more with Israel.
Some friends back in Sweden thought I was crazy to travel to Israel in these turbulent times, but the thing is that I am with you forever.
I stand with Israel in good times and in bad times.
Thank you, people of Israel, for making my life so much richer.
Publicerad på The Times of Israel, augusti 2014.
ZF UK Trip to Israel
I recently started working for the Zionist Federation in Sweden, and last week I had the privilege to join the ZF UK on their trip to Israel.
This happened to be my tenth visit to the country since 2008, and I was yet again astounded by how much this tiny country has to offer.
Below are some of the highlights from the trip.
– Briefing by British Ambassador Matthew Gould
As I’m not British I had no knowledge about the Ambassador. I do follow a lot of British people on social media though, so I was familiar with the fact that there are many similarities in the way(s) Israel is seen and is being treated in Sweden and in the UK respectively.
Especially so when mainstream media is concerned. The situation is very depressing in both countries.
It was a nice and welcoming little briefing, and turned out that the Ambassador had a lot of humour. Which is always nice.
– Meir Amit Center – Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center
This was definitely one of my favourite places that we visited – and a place I had never heard of before.
The “terror rooms” with various “memorabilia” from the PA were scary, interesting and somewhat depressing.
I’d seen a lot of the “It’s fun and fabulous to be a suicide bomber”-brochures online, but it was fascinating in a sickening way to see them “live”.
We got to hear a few stories about the people that had died – whose names were written on the walls – and they were all very interesting and well deserving of becoming movies.
– Kfar Isfiya
I’d read some about the Druze people but never really understood it, so travelling up north and being introduced to the Druze lifestyle and religion was interesting indeed (and left me wanting to know more).
This was another place I’d never had visited on one of my “regular” trips to Israel. (And the Druze lunch was very tasty indeed.)
– Ofakim – Student Village
I very much admire the spirit of the Ayalim Association and I first learned about them on a seminar a couple of years ago, when I’d been asked to write a short piece on the subject for Menorah Sweden.
I appreciated seeing one of these villages and listening to people’s personal stories on how they became involved.
– Gilad Shalit
We met Gilad Shalit at his Herzliya University and to me, personally, it was magnificent to see the young man in person, as I started blogging about Israel at about the same time that he got kidnapped, and I wrote about him many many times.
However, the “event” itself, which was a very low-key lunch, felt very awkward.
Gilad was obviously very uncomfortable with the attention and as we weren’t allowed to ask about the things we all really wanted to ask about, it all felt pretty unnecessary. However – nice to see the man!
– Shmuel Ben Tovim
I admit that I felt very out of place. Economics, numbers… Not my area at all. However, I love statistics and I did get something out of this briefing. (Israel is growing stronger and stronger.)
– The Stern Gallery
What I very much appreciated with this trip was the diversity. From Israel’s economy in the morning to Israeli art in the evening.
And I felt more at home at the art gallery… This event was a nice little surprise. I like art although I don’t “know” art. It just so happened that I “got” the art that was presented to us.
– Space IL
This interesting project I first heard about online quite some time ago. A huge project of course, and indeed very fascinating.
– Herzl Museum + Gil Hoffman and Mark Regev
I had never visited the Herzl Museum before and it was a pleasant surprise. What a wonderful museum, full of surprises!
The speeches by Hoffman and Regev were brilliant. Informative and also fun at times.
– Micky Rosenfeld + The Western Wall Tunnel
It was the day before the Pope’s arrival and Jerusalem was pretty chaotic and closed off. Chief Inspector Micky Rosenfeld spoke about how the police operates in Jerusalem and it was all very interesting and felt extra relevant on this particular day.
The Tunnel was very very long and although the guide was very annoying and too much “on fire” (at least for a laid-back Scandinavian person) the stories and the history was fascinating.
As a huge fan of this television channel, the last day of the trip was my favourite day. First of all, to step into the building felt epic. And seeing the studios!
Meeting the CEO Frank Melloul and news anchor Lucy Aharish was just too good to be true!
Publicerad på The Times of Israel, juni 2014.
Following my heart
The first couple of weeks of 2014 I spent thinking about these past years that changed my life.
That is, when Israel and Judaism came into my life. From nowhere and literally from every imaginable angle. (I also begun converting to Judaism but that’s another blog post.)
Why am I doing what I’m doing? The short answer: I’m following my heart.
It’s not always easy being a pro-Israel blogger in Sweden.
As an activist for Israel you easily become a target for all kinds of loons: it’s easy to give up.
I’ve received quite a few emails recently, with questions about why it isn’t possible to post comments on my website. I assure you that having open comments on a pro-Israel website in Sweden is quite impossible. You would have to hire someone to remove nasty comments 24/7.
When I opened my first blog, what feels like 200 years ago, the readers were able to post comments. They were unsurprisingly filled with hatred, anger and ‘opinions’ (AKA ‘things I’ve read in a Swedish newspaper’).
So, I said ‘goodbye’ to comments and stomach pain, and ‘hello’ to my new website, which is not a blog but just that – a website.
After all my mission is to introduce another Israel. Not to waste my time ‘discussing’ with lost cases.
I want my countrymen to discover the Israel that I love.
The diverse, welcoming, colourful and somewhat sassy Israel.
Beyond the conflicts.
Beyond the drama.
Beyond the lies and anti-Israel propaganda.
Then there is of course utter anti-Semites, but if it’s possible to slap some sense into them I do not know. Lost cases, probably.
Once you understand how the media works, you can’t just let it be.
The fact that the Israelis are constantly exposed to terror in the form of rockets (with the intent to kill as many Jewish children, women and men as possible), stone throwing (no bored, angry, innocent teenage kids with tiny rocks, but deadly ROCKS) and so on, and the media keeps quiet should make every Swede upset. You know, the Swede who decades ago put a halo on his head and talks endlessly about “democracy” and “fairness”.
This is apparently easily forgotten when it comes to the world’s only Jewish state.
There are no demos nor rioting in the streets when Israel is suffering from terror and misery.
That’s partly because no one knows that something happened.
And why do they not know that? Because the media won’t tell them (Hence all the fabulous, devoted pro-Israel activists).
This vile, deceitful, dishonest type of ‘journalism’ scares me.
Whether you ‘like’ Israel or not (and if you don’t, you probably never visited the country and met with its amazing citizens), one should understand that this is nothing short of brainwashing people and that’s certainly not cool.
But let’s stay positive!
I said (a cliché, I know) once that if I can get just one person’s perception of the Jewish state to change, then I am pleased. And that happened years ago, so from now on everything’s a big bonus. Since then the negative feedback (AKA hate mail) has more or less faded away, being replaced with praise. Very nice and important for a simple pro-Israel activist.
So yes, my life changed completely back in 2008, when Lady Israel stepped into my life, in those high heels and with that huge, welcoming smile on her lips.
And I will most certainly continue doing what I’m doing.
Only louder. Better. More.
I am also involved in the fight against anti-Semitism online, throughYadBYad.
By the way, I recently made another “Hebrew” video. Watch it here.
Publicerad på The Times of Israel, januari 2014.
Judaism Makes Me Want To Become a Better Person
I more or less ‘wrote’ this blog post in my head last night when I couldn’t sleep.
It happens to me regularly, that I lie there hour after hour. My mind is all over the place and I just can’t relax.
Apart from going though all the things one has to do in daily life my brain has lately been on a spiritual journey.
I guess it has to do with getting older.
I don’t know how many nights in the past five years I’ve been awake with books on Judaism in my hands or thoughts about Judaism in my head, but eventually something had to be done.
So I did what I had to do: I finally took the first step towards Judaism. Well, that’s not exactly true. I took my first step four years ago but because of certain circumstances it all fell apart before it really begun.
I then took my second step a little over a year ago, but that time it too fell to pieces (which had nothing to do with me).
I just couldn’t seem to find a way to convert in my hometown Stockholm.
Then – very randomly – when I was visiting Israel someone gave me a new idea. I was sitting by the beach in Tel Aviv, with a Jewish Israeli friend currently living in Sweden, and he told me about this congregation in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Back in Sweden I sent them an email and they were very welcoming and asked me to travel to Copenhagen to meet with them. So I did.
After about two seconds I knew that this was exactly what I had been waiting for – or perhaps what the Universe had been planning for me all the time, just waiting for me to be ready.
Of course those two earlier attempts were bound to ‘fail’ as they were not right for me.
Hence I will be traveling to Copenhagen on a regular basis and eventually I will finally become a Jew.
Something I’ve known for the past four or five years would happen sooner or later.
Many of my Jewish friends who were not born Jewish (although Jew-ish with Jewish souls) say the same. “I knew early on that it would happen one day” and “I wish I’d done it earlier”.
So why do I want to convert?
Because I feel at home in Judaism and I feel I belong with the Jewish people.
I had a feeling and an interest very early on. I had forgotten about most of it until I recently found my old-old-old journals. Especially the history of the Jews – and Israel – was fascinating to me as a child. It’s a bit hard to describe but I was always drawn to Judaism. It’s as if I personally didn’t have to do anything – someone did it for me. Something tried to get my attention.
After these childhood feelings and thoughts I of course became a young adult and I was busy growing up (and I was very busy clubbing).
Most of us grow up eventually and one day I felt empty.
And that’s when Judaism and Israel ‘accidentally’ came back into my life. It was as if Someone had just switched the light on and suddenly it became so bright and clear.
For which I am very thankful as I was in need of some spirituality in my life.
In short Judaism makes me want to become a better person.
I’m pretty decent already, but I most certainly can improve!
Publicerad på The Times of Israel, oktober 2013.
The Israeli Heat
I guess this is my first TOI blog post written in Israel.
Yes, I am here again, for the fourth time in the past eleven months.
I am loving every second, although I admit that the August heat IS a little much.
However, I keep reminding myself about the fact that when I get back to Sweden I will have more or less six coldish, gray and ugly months ahead of me. Sure, winter is beautiful – if there is snow. And even if we do get a lot of snow in Stockholm, it’s fun for only a week or two.
So I am not complaining about my eyes itching because of the salty sweat that reaches them…
Israel has treated me well also this time. I’ve met old and new friends and overall the Israelis are such a warm and welcoming people.
Like the Jewish couple I accidentally met in Jerusalem, who invited me to their (amazing) home in the Old City.
They wished me well on my journey to Judaism and lent me a book. Just like that.
I have such intelligent friends in Israel, and whenever I share a shakshuka or a bottle of red wine with them, I wish that all my brainwashed countrymen would have the opportunity to do the same.
I haven’t read any Swedish papers properly in the past few days, but I saw some headlines and they were all about the ‘poor Palestinian prisoners’ who ‘finally’ got released from those evil Israelis’ prisons (where they apparently were held just for the fun of it).
Also I noticed the never ending headlines about the ‘settlements’ being the biggest obstacle to peace. Meanwhile rockets were being shot into Israel.
A friend of mine yesterday said something like this:
”There can not be peace as long as the Palestinians welcome these murderers as heroes. Had a Jew been murdering Arabs and gotten released from prison prematurely, we would not rejoice. To us he would be a murderer who deserves to be kept in prison.”
IMHO that pretty much says it all.
I still have a few days left in Israel, but I am already starting to worry about the PID. Thankfully yesterday I received an invitation for a wedding, so I must come back pretty soon.
As always I feel recharged. Why I am doing this thing for Israel, that many people feel a bit absurd, comes clear to me every time I visit the Holy Land.
It has nothing to do with religion or belief.
It’s simply about doing the right thing.
Following my heart.
Swedish Jews are escaping antisemitism. Some of them settle in Israel.
But they will still be targeted by the state they escaped.
It makes me want to vomit.
By the way, before coming to Israel I made another clip in “Hebrew”.Click here.
Publicerad på The Times of Israel, augusti 2013.
Swedish sunshine and Israeli flags
Sunday June 2nd we held our second pro-Israel rally in Stockholm.
Last time, in December 2012, we gathered outside the hooligan tabloid Aftonbladet. (The crappy “newspaper” with this headline after the latest Israeli elections: “Israel votes for more violence.” Just as an example.) It was -16 degrees but the crowd was happy and the warm hearts were beating with pure love for Israel.
This time we gathered at Raoul Wallenberg’s square. The sun was shining, the Israeli music was loud and the beautiful Israeli flags were all over the place.
What a wonderful afternoon!
A great thing about these rallies is that they attract a very diverse crowd. There are the Jews and the very religious Christians, and the gays and the liberals and… So on.
We had some great speakers:
• Heléne Lööw, PhD, and one of a few historians that has researched anti-Semitism in Sweden.
• Saskia Pantell, Vice Chairman of Sionistiska Federationen (Zionit).
• Nicky Larkin, artist and filmmaker (Forty Shades of Grey).
• Siewert Öholm, journalist, TV-producer and TV-host.
• Ulf Cahn, Secretary General of Förenade Israelinsamlingen/Keren Hayesod.
The speeches can be found here, in Swedish.
Yes, these rallies are a lot about preaching to the choir, but it boosts us all and makes us even more motivated and energetic about standing up for Israel.
A lot of pictures can be found on my website: Israelism.se.
A couple of days before our rally I made another video, in “Hebrew”.
You can watch it here.
The rally, for Israel and against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, was organized by Anna Berg, Hanna Zion, Amnon Lee Israeli and Kim Milrell(israelism.se).
Thank you to WZO, and a special thanks to Saskia Pantell, Sionistiska Federationen (Zionit).
What else is new?
Well, six weeks have passed since my recent trip to Israel and I am desperately trying to find a way to come back. Soon!
Publicerad på The Times of Israel, juni 2013.
In a previous post I wrote about my suffering from PID – Post Israel Depression, and ‘unfortunately’ I now – almost two months later – must say that I am still suffering.
In fact I get ‘sicker’ every day.
It’s not just about the weather. Although that would be understandable considering it’s -8° C in Stockholm and +35° C in my beloved Israel.
It’s about so much more.
The warmth of the people for instance.
Israelis often complain about themselves being pushy and loud but I’ve never experienced the pushy part. Maybe that day will come but I am not afraid since I like a little bit of heat! At least you know that everyone’s actually living and not just being alive!
And I must say I love the loudness (being a quiet little Scandinavian myself).
And then there’s the energy. Not just the urban energy of Tel Aviv, but as soon as one sets foot in Ben Gurion Airport one can feel it.
A different kind of energy which is impossible to describe in words.
I guess for most Jews it’s a Jewish thing, but I’m not Jewish (yet) although my heart clearly is.
And of course there’s the food! The hummus, the falafel, the sallads! How can the sallads taste so… hmm… much? And so fresh?
And then there is the language!
I love Hebrew and I know quite a lot of words (and sleazy song titels as I love those Hebrew ballads…)
And do you know how sexy the language is?
Oh dear, oh dear.
But the best part is the feeling of being amongst friends.
To be able to wear a Magen David without being scared.
(I bought my first one five years ago and I never took it off. It’s a part of me and my Jewish heart.)
So here I am, still suffering, trying to work but finding myself time and time again staring at that map behind me.
My project LettersFromIsrael.com gets a lot of hits every day, although I haven’t been able to update it for quite some time, so please – Israelis – help me fight ignorance! Write your own letter from Israel and send it to me. (Info here.)
My latest project Israelism.se is also doing well. Bilingual and all. Why not take part in my ‘pictures project’? Send images from your city or town or village or street, just like Yehonatan Levi did.
Meanwhile I’ll continue
being sick planning my comeback.
Publicerad på The Times of Israel, mars 2013
A pro-Israel blogger has no time off in this country
A pro-Israel blogger has no time off in this country.
And the country in question is Sweden.
The lunatics are everywhere.
They’re not evil though, they’re just fed by the Israel-trashing hooligan media.
For decades the public has absorbed the lies and the propaganda, so how could they know anything else?
When a friend posted a Holocaust related picture on Facebook, on Holocaust Memorial Day, one of these lunatics immediately scribbled down: “I feel sorry for the Jews, but what is even worse is that the Jews(!) are now doing the same thing to the Palestinians.”
Yes, we’ve heard it before.
And that’s the problem. When a lie is repeated often enough it becomes the truth and so on…
A few days earlier (also on Facebook) a friend’s friend was moaning about “parking spots only for Jews” in Israel. So this is what far too many people believe is the State of Israel.
Very troubling and extremely disturbing.
I guess the only way to wake these lunatics up is to bring them to Israel, so that they can see The Real Israel with their own eyes. Once and for all.
Meanwhile I’m blogging away and I just launched my new (bilingual) website: Israelism.se.
Why not read my interview with Kasim Kaz Hafeez – the British Muslim who also believed all these lies and then travelled to Israel and changed his mind.
Also I am thinking of publishing – on Israelism.se – photos and videos of Israelis capturing their hometown.
So if you would like to take some pics of your city/village, please do, and send them to me. (Contact me here.)
Videos would be great also!
Publicerad på The Times of Israel, februari 2014.
PID (Post Israel Depression)
Toda raba, Israel for yet another great week.
My sixth visit and this romance is not cooling down. On the contrary it just keeps getting hotter, so I guess it must be real love.
I admit I’ve been in love before. Not with countries but rather with cities; Madrid (I was very young) was followed by London and who has never had a little fling with Berlin?
But with Israel it’s different. It’s real and probably it will last until one of us dies. And I hope I will die before Israel (if you know what I mean) – that’s how real my love is.
And Tel Aviv, my dirty little bitch, oh, how I adore you.
I know, I know, people keep telling me that Tel Aviv is not the “real” Israel. And yes, after having travelled to many places in the country I understand that Tel Aviv is different. And I like this kind of “different”.
If I would be a city I would be Tel Aviv.
I’ve never experienced the Tel Aviv energy anywhere else. Nor the atmosphere, which is outstanding.
Tel Aviv to me is inviting, exciting, seducing and tolerant.
Just the way I like it.
On this sixth trip I also visited Haifa for the very first time. Getting off the train and seeing the beauty of Lady Haifa in front of me amazed me. Wow!
What a beautiful city. And such great food!
But wherever I’ve been in Israel, when returning to Tel Aviv I feel in heart and soul that I am coming back home.
Every time I visit Israel I meet many, many wonderful people and this time was no exception. Old friends and new ones shared their personal stories and thoughts on the country. The conversations were many, versatile and truly interesting. Thanks to you all!
Then, coming back to Sweden (never mind the weather: -10° C) it hits me. The PID (Post-Israel Depression). It’s nothing I made up myself – many of my friends, who share this love for Israel, know exactly what I’m talking about.
Symptoms include: apathy, listening exclusively to Hebrew music (often the saddest of songs), watching Israeli movies (sad ones, that make you cry a LOT) and later on also anger and despair. And boredom.
Thankfully I have an understanding significant other: “No wonder you feel depressed. You just came back from Israel a couple of days ago and you feel that you belong there. It’s a natural reaction.”
One moment I was sitting under the Israeli sun, sipping on a Goldstar and talking to intelligent Israelis. You know, the people who in Swedish media are portrayed as nothing short of monsters.
And all of a sudden I am back in Sweden where, the day after the elections, a headline in the biggest tabloid reads: “Israel voted for more violence”.
Just so you know what a pro-Israel blogger is up against in this country… (A LOT of work!)
When I suffer from PID I remember all the great moments I experienced in Israel. Like when those two happy guys recognised me and said “toda raba” for “what I do”. Or when the day before I packed my bags and left, a man stopped me on the street. He asked me if I am who I am and then he said:
”I appreciate your work very much.”
That sentence will save me many times in the future.
OK, I am now going to continue my suffering.
I’ll listen to Shiri Maimon or Nathan Goshen and sob a little.
I love you, Israel.
(And of course I’m already planning my comeback!)
Publicerad på The Times of Israel, januari 2013.
Greetings from Sweden (please get me out of here)
Sweden has turned into a country where one apparently can say just about anything about Israel and/or the Jews – and get away with it.
Considering the growing antisemitism in this country one should pay close attention to any antisemitic slurs.
Let me present to you the Palestinian-Swedish TV personality Gina Dirawi – a very charming young woman, popular amongst the younger generations – famous for hosting this year’s Melodifestivalen – the Swedish selections for the Eurovision Song Contest and undoubtedly the biggest television happening of the year.
Miss Dirawi has over the years caused some commotion by comparing Israel to Hitler. This has been excused by Dirawi being “young and inexperienced”.
She also once wrote (on her blog) about turning the Holocaust Memorial Day into a ‘Memorial Day For Everyone’. “For all those Palestinians killed by Zionists in Israel.”
Although working for Sveriges Television – the Swedish public service television company – (SVT) (not exactly known for their unbiased reporting) this did not stop SVT from handing the highly prestigious Melodifestivalen hostess job to Dirawi, who later appeared with a very forced feeling apology making everything ”fine” again.
A short time ago it was announced that Dirawi will host the show also next year. One might think that a year would have made Miss Dirawi less “young and inexperienced” but last week the popular television star yet again put herself in the eye of the storm, by publishing a picture on her blog; a picture of a book she is reading and apparently wants to promote: Är världen upp och ner? (Is the world upside down?) written by Lasse Wilhelmson. As you may not know this famous anti-semite, let me tell you that it might as well have been “Mein Kampf” in the hands of Dirawi. Apparently this is what the young lady wants her fans to read. And apparently this is okey by SVT.
SVT (yet again) had a little ‘chat’ with Gina Dirawi and she is now ‘cleared’.
The ‘clueless’ girl has since deleted her post and offered an apology, saying she ”didn’t know who the writer was”.
Isn’t is nice to hide behind one’s stupidity and time and time again get away with it?
More about what’s going on in this country. Last week on the debate program ”Debatt” (SVT yet again) the debate was about Pillar of Defense. Mr. Pierre Schori was defending Hamas, calling for the ”revoking of the ridiculous terrorist stamp”.
Okey, that was stupid.
But when I heard the Ship to Gaza activist Victoria Strand comparing Hamas to Nelson Mandela I had to turn off the television.
This is what’s going on in Sweden.
And I didn’t even tell you about Hillevi Larsson – the Social democrat who, during Pillar of Defense, accused Israel of “mass murder on civilians”.Nor did I tell you about Adrian Kaba (another Social democrat).
To end this post on a positive note I’d like to say that next week there will be a rally/manifestation in Stockholm – for Israel and against media bias – outside the offices of the clearly antisemitic tabloid Aftonbladet.
And yes, I already booked my next ticket to Israel (see you in January!).
Being a pro-Israel blogger in Sweden is exhausting, you see.
One has to get away!
Publicerad på The Times of Israel, november 2012.
They just don’t care
What at a horrible weekend it was.
And what a horrible sleepless night I had.
And I wasn’t even sitting in a bomb shelter!
On the contrary, far away from the terror, in (for now) safe Sweden I was tossing and turning in my bed.
The frustration I felt was out of this world.
And Monday morning, on my way to the office, I felt the frustration grow bigger and bigger. I saw my countrymen reading the morning papers and I wanted to slap some sense into them.
On Saturday night I was following the endelss rocket attacks from Gaza.
Of course not from any Swedish news outlets, nor the CNN or the BBC.
One must love Twitter and the Israeli news sites!
When a country is bombarded with rockets and the world just don’t seem to care. What’s up with that?
I try to spread the information but no one seems to care (except the ones who are already ‘enlightened’).
On Saturday night my countrymen were busy watching entertainment on television. A few cocktails and a quick shag later they fell asleep and on Sunday morning they saw The Headline.
Always the same story: “Israeli Attack Kills XX Palestinians.” And yes, yesterday this headline was yet again found in every Swedish newspaper.
The media ignores the rocket attacks and how can the public know what is happening in Israel if no one tells them?
Then why do I care so much? I mean, it affects my sleep, for crying out loud!
The real question is: why do they not care?
I have had this frustration inside of me since I got ‘enlightened’ some five years ago and I can only imagine how frustrated the Israelis must be by now.
When I, as a kid, was learning about the Holocaust, there was always just one word lingering in my head: why?
I never found the answer.
And now, many years later, as I see Israel being treated this way and no one seems to care, I again have the same word stuck in my head: why?
To end this post on a positive note I must say that however crazy the world is, more and more people are waking up. There are online-demonstrations and whatnot, and every day a new ‘enlightened’ blogger seems to pop up from nowhere.
So let’s not give up just yet.
Publicerad på The Times of Israel, november 2012
A rally FOR Israel and AGAINST nothing
Yesterday could have been just another grey and boring Sunday, but it turned out to be quite the opposite, thanks to the pro-Israel rally that took place at Sergels torg in the very center of Stockholm.
The square in the Swedish capital lit up with hundreds of waving Israeli flags and Israeli music filled the air as somewhere between 700 and 1,200 friends of Israel gathered.
A local Jewish blogger organized the event and kicked it off by holding a speech (although she was in tears a few times). A few speeches followed, made by wonderful people fighting for a more balanced image of Israel in Sweden, as well as by a couple of (liberal) politicians.
Of course, far away – held back by the police – were a few anti-Israel hooligans, waving Palestinian and communist (!) flags. “Go to hell”, they shouted. So much for dialogue…
It’s ironic that this rally – which was for Israel and against nothing – was met by counter-demonstrators who seemed to be against Israel more than they were for anything.
The event ended with us all singing Hatikvah. I saw tears in people’s eyes and no, I couldn’t help myself as I sobbed away.
Mainstream media has (not surprisingly) completely ignored this rally in the same way as they have ignored the rockets fired at Israel during the last few days. Oy vey! They should be ashamed of themselves.
Before signing off I must express my happiness!
The day is soon here! On Sunday I will finally be back in Israel.
So see you around!
Publicerad på The Times of Israel, september 2012
Taking your kippah out of the closet
You may have heard about last week’s “kippah walk” in Malmö — the third largest city in Sweden.
If you google “Malmö + anti-Semitism” you will get a lot of hits, so I will not get into all of that.
But! We had a “kippah walk” in the capital too!
Yes, we were about 100 people walking through the city center wearing kippahs and Jewish symbols.
I thought to myself: do we really need to do this? It is insane. It really IS insane. Jews (and friends of Jews) are — in a free, democratic European country — forced to walk in kippah parades!
It all felt a bit like a gay pride parade in the ’90s (as a gay man I know what I’m talking about).
It is oh so sad that a “kippah walk” is needed but one has to do what one has to do.
I — as a friend of Judaism and Israel — always feel a little bit high after these happenings.
This was just an apéritif though, because next week there will be a (hopefully) huge pro-Israel manifestation in the center of Stockholm, and also one in the second largest city of Sweden: Gothenburg.
I love it, because it is a manifestation for Israel and against nothing. That’s the way I like it.
I will be there (in Stockholm) and I will let you know all about it.
Ah, I love Israel and I can’t wait to visit your wonderful country again.
Only 15 days to go!
Publicerad på The Times of Israel, augusti 2012
In my first post I spoke about how I found – and fell in love with – Israel.
Now it’s time to get just a little bit spiritual and talk about how I discovered Judaism.
Back in the days when I made my first Israeli (and Jewish) friends, I realized I knew basically nothing about Judaism. I actually don’t remember reading or learning anything about Judaism in school.
So I wanted to know more!
I began my journey by reading a lot of books. (“Judaism for dummies” was not bad at all and later made me get a copy of “Hebrew for dummies.”) I learned a lot from my newfound Jewish friends and I visited the synagogue.
The more I learned about Judaism – the more it appealed to me.
I guess what I like the most is that you can be very Jewish without being religious. And you’ll still know all about the traditions and the holidays, which is very different from where I come from. Secular people celebrate but probably do not know too much of why or what they are actually celebrating.
When I paid my first visit to Israel my love for anything Jewish grew.
Later on, when I was back in Sweden after my second trip to the Holy Land I suffered from a post-Israel depression and it actually stuck with me until I started planning my third trip. This was in 2010 and a couple of weeks before my flight, the Icelandic volcano drama took place. Flights were cancelled all over Europe and I was afraid that the trip, which was the only thing that had kept me going the past few months, was going to get cancelled too.
However, one day as I was out walking my dog I saw a huge menorah in a window.
It probably sounds silly but as I had never before seen a menorah anywhere in Sweden, to me this was a sign.
I felt a calmness come over me; it all felt a bit religious, to be honest. I kept on walking and started to doubt myself. Was it really a menorah I had seen? Later on during the same walk I saw another menorah in another window. And this time there was no doubt about it (I have the exact same menorah at home). I almost started to cry and I stopped worrying about the Icelandic volcano (and yes, I made it to Israel!).
I kept on seeing menorahs regularly and then it suddenly stopped. (I wrote about these occasions on my Swedish blog.
Early 2012 it was time to yet again spot a menorah. I was about to write an article and I was unsure of myself and I was afraid of messing it all up. I decided to go for a long walk with my dog and on our way back home… I again saw a menorah in a window. It filled me with strength and courage and I walked straight back home and wrote the article and yes, it went on to become a huge success.
So this is how Judaism came to me. Very cliche but very true.
And yes, my home is filled with both menorahs and Israeli flags.
Publicerad på The Times of Israel, augusti 2012
A little ‘regime’ here and a little ‘apartheid’ there
Just like last time I had a happier post in mind, it will have to wait because I’m furious (again).
The Israeli documentary “Mom and dad, I Have Something to Tell You” (by Assi Azar) was supposed to be screened next week during Stockholm Pride. As it turns out it has now been canceled due to leftist threats.
This is the new Sweden that I live in – the hate toward Israel comes from every imaginable angle. How sad is it that an Israeli gay documentary cannot be screened during a gay pride festival, just because it was made by an Israeli? It’s a shame, a disaster and… well, it’s a joke that the hate toward Israel is stronger than the love for what pride is supposed to be all about.
No pride for me then – the documentary was all I wanted to see during this year’s festival (and my party days are long gone anyway).
What else has made me upset recently? Well, for instance I was watching the news on SVT (the national television broadcaster) last Friday, and on a news segment Israel was called a “regime”. Yes, a regime – the word usually used when talking about a dictatorship. A lot of letters were sent to the broadcaster but they probably won’t reply – at least they never did before (at least not to me).
In these subtle ways the media has been brainwashing the Swedish public for decades. A little “regime” here and a little “apartheid” there. Meanwhile not only ignoring any Palestinian drama towards Israel, but actually glorifying the Palestinians.
No wonder people are confused.
Well, next time I will write a happier post! And maybe a bit spiritual.
I’ll tell you about when I went through a “difficult time” and started seeing Menorahs everywhere…
I was actually asked by the Israeli tourist bureau to blog for/about them during/from Stockholm Pride, but the bureau did not get the permission to participate in the festival. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.
Update: (After a very intense day on Facebook, Twitter and various blogs) It looks like the screening of the documentary will take place after all. (If so, I will go there and I will let you know all about it.)
Publicerad på The Times of Israel, juli 2012
Standing with Israel is not an easy thing to do
In my previous post I wrote about how badly the Swedish media reports about anything that has to do with Israel.
Israel is always the bad guy and all the great things that come out of your country hardly gets any attention at all.
I don’t know why this is and I don’t know when it started, but I do know that years ago it was nothing like it is today, because these days Israel has become a profanity.
The media is generally very left-wing and for some reason they have decided to collectively bash Israel.
The situation in Gaza gives them more fuel and of course they never pay any attention whatsoever to all the trucks – loaded with food and whatnot – entering the Gaza strip from Israel, or all the Gazans coming to Israeli hospitals. They have decided that Gaza is a huge outdoor prison and the Israelis (not the IDF, but actually the Israelis) are treating the Gazans like caged animals. (For the fun of it, of course!)
Meanwhile another Ship To Gaza provocation is on its way from Sweden, something that on Swedish television has been called a “folkfest” (festival). (Really!) In an effort to show people that we are not all part of this “folkfest”, a few friends and I decided to organize a little Pro-Israel rally last week when the ship was passing Stockholm on its way from northern Sweden all the way to the Gaza strip.
We didn’t get much attention, apart from a few youngsters screaming something about “Palestine”, but deep down inside I believe that more and more Swedes are starting to see the whole Israel/Palestine situation in another way. Much to blogs, Twitter and the Internet in general.
Publicerad på The Times of Israel, juli 2012
How I fell in love with Israel
Some five years ago my life changed for good. There goes a very distinct line, forever dividing my life into a “before and after.” What happened to me was Israel.
I must admit I had always had a special “feeling” for the country — ever since I was a child. To be honest it probably had something to do with the Eurovision Song Contest – I always loved the Israeli entries…
In 2007, however, I made my first Israeli friends. I got to know them online, and as they were big friends of Sweden and Scandinavia, and had visited the Nordic countries several times, I was a little embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know much about Israel or Judaism. So I began educating myself.
The more I learned, the more I wanted to find out — and the more it all appealed to me. I got this “homey” feeling inside of me, and I guess that as a Swedish Finn, I always felt a little left out; I was too Finnish in Sweden and too Swedish in Finland (although in my book, there is little difference between the two). This situation has changed drastically in the past couple of decades, as the world has gotten smaller. But as a child, I never felt I belonged anywhere, and the feeling stuck with me through the years.
And then came Israel.
The following year, after my newfound Israeli friends visited me in Stockholm, I decided to take the trip that changed everything.
As I stepped out of the airplane and met the Middle Eastern sun, that September day in 2008, my entire soul was filled with a feeling of belonging. I know it sounds corny, but it was such an amazing experience! There I came, as a non-Jew, to a country with which I had no real connection, and suddenly I felt I was finally home. As I saw the many Israeli flags waving in the wind, and on my way from Ben Gurion Airport to Tel Aviv, I couldn’t keep my eyes from tearing up. From that day on, the Israeli flag has been “my” flag.
Ever since that first trip, I have been back to Israel every year, and the feeling of belonging has never stopped. Israel is the only place where I always feel completely accepted, respected and, well, loved.
Three months after my first visit, Operation Cast Lead took place. By this time I had started reading Israeli news sites, and I had noticed that the Swedish media (almost) never reported about the ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza. This troubled me, and when I saw that Israel was being accused of, more or less, bombing Gaza for the fun of it, my own private blog started to turn into the pro-Israel blog it is today.
The hate that came my way, from my many ignorant countrymen who were commenting on my blog, shocked me — and in the past years it has only gotten worse. You are more or less expected to hate Israel, and if you don’t, well, then apparently you’re doomed.
A question that often comes up is “Why do you hate the Palestinians?”
It is as if you must hate someone to love another — a way of thinking I never quite understood.
I’ve been blogging non stop about Israel for the past four years, hoping that I can make people see a fuller picture. It hasn’t been easy, as most people have a very (un)clear picture of Israel (and the conflict – it sometimes seems that without the conflict, there is no Israel, since the ongoing drama is all people in general know anything about).
Earlier this year I wrote an op-ed on Ynet entitled A love letter to Israelis, and the impact took me by surprise. I received hundreds of e-mails — from both Israelis and friends of the Jewish State from all over the world (and a few not-so-nice ones, not surprisingly written in Swedish). As I was reading these wonderful emails from people, telling me about their thoughts on their homeland and their everyday lives, I thought to myself that everyone should have the opportunity to partake of these stories from ordinary Israelis. That is how I came up with the idea for my latest project: Letters from Israel. If you have a minute or two, please consider writing a “letter” for me to publish on my site. Anything goes: political, personal; perhaps even a poem. All the info can be found here.
I will continue this little fight of mine – spreading another picture of the country I love so much – on my Swedish blog, but I will update this new blog on The Times of Israel regularly, to let you know what is going on in Sweden and how your country is being portrayed here.
Publicerad på The Times of Israel, juli 2012
A love letter to Israelis
Op-ed: Pro-Israel blogger tries to counter Sweden’s new national sport – bashing Jewish state
Whenever I visit Israel, people ask me: “Why do Swedes hate us so much?”
Let me take this opportunity to try to explain a thing or two.
In Sweden, where people know basically nothing about Israel, they seem to believe they know everything. The little they really do know they get from the media, and let me tell you that it’s not a pretty picture being painted there.
The way the Swedish media cover Israel is as depressing as the conflict between Israel and the Arabs itself. In fact, I wonder if I’ve ever read an article, in any way related to your country, that didn’t bring up the problems in the region. It’s as if Israel does not exist without the Palestinians or the conflict.
In Sweden, Israel can never win. Whatever the story may be, the media always find a way to turn things around and in the end, in one way or another, they manage to blame Israel.
The never-ending rocket attacks from Gaza are for some reason always kept in the dark. That is, until Israel strikes back. That is when we get the twisted headlines, such as ”Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza” and, if we’re lucky, we might find a line or two briefly mentioning the terrorists in the Gaza strip somewhere at the very end of the articles.
Whenever a major terrorist attack takes place we do get the reports and we see the pictures, but the everyday suffering of Israelis and of the children in bomb shelters are yet to be portrayed in Sweden’s newspapers.
Reading any news related to Israel, the writer always grasps the opportunity to trash the Jewish state. For instance, while reading an article in a Swedish animal rights group’s newsletter, about the great improvement of animal rights in Israel, the writer also noted that while Israel is not known for its engagement for human rights, at least the animals are treated well. Needless to say, the article was most likely written by someone who never visited your country, someone who just read the headlines for years – in other words, the average Swede.
Decades of propaganda
Swedish mainstream media very rarely features reports about science, technology or anything great that comes out of Israel, and the Swedes are often eager to boycott Israeli fruit (for some reason the fruit is a very sore spot). Yet they are of course happy to use Israeli computer software, communications technology and medical equipment… They probably didn’t even know they were supporting Israel when purchasing these things, because nobody let them know they were Israeli.
Slamming and bashing Israel may be the new national sport in Sweden, at least in the media, but I still don’t believe that Swedes in general hate Israelis, Jews or the Jewish state – I believe that they simply do not know better. And how can they know if no one tells them?
That is why I am a pro-Israel blogger, and trust me: it’s not easy. In fact, it’s almost a full-time job. Thankfully every year another blogger, tired of the endless twists and turns in the media, seems to pop up, willing to spread another picture of the Jewish state.
Nothing upsets the average Swede more than talking about Israel in a positive way – decades of anti-Israel propaganda has slowly brainwashed the Swedish people.
I am doing all I can to wake my countrymen up from the horrible nightmare that is torturing them. It is my strong belief that one day they will thank me for not being a silent observer.
Until then, please don’t judge them too harshly.
Publicerad på Ynet News, mars 2012
Så var paraden avklarad och snart är Pride slut för denna gång. Varje år hänger det på en mycket skör tråd om jag överhuvudtaget ska delta i paraden eller ej (av ren lathet, tre dagars festande tär på en trettioårings kropp).
I sista stund ändrar jag mig alltid och varje gång är jag lika glad över att jag tog mitt förnuft till fånga.
Oftast när jag frågar om anledningen till att någon inte går i paraden får jag höra att personen i fråga inte vill bli representerad av ett tåg som ser ut som en cirkus.
Då är det väl bäst att komma dit och representera sig själv då!
Jag önskar att alla människor skulle få uppleva känslan man får när man går längs gatorna, kantade av alla tänkbara slags människor.
Häromåret fick jag äran att bevittna ett (mycket) äldre heteropar sittande på sina rullatorer, frenetiskt applåderande, och det var fantastiskt att se. Inte ens regnet sänkte humöret hos vare sig deltagare eller åskådare igår, utan Hornsgatan förvandlades på ett ögonblick till ett hav av paraplyer. Synd bara att de inte var regnbågsfärgade.
Störst applåder fick som vanligt de underbara människorna som gick bakom plakatet ”Stolta föräldrar till homosexuella barn”. Jag blir lika lycklig i hjärtat varje gång jag ser dem och jag önskar så att de vore många, många fler! Hur kan man inte vara stolt över sitt barn? Hur kan man inte förstå att man är som man är och att det inte är något man vare sig kan eller bör försöka ändra på? Hur kan man inte ta till sig att alltsammans handlar om kärlek?
Igår samlades ett gäng insnöade nazister vid Odenplan för en antihomodemonstration och i dagens DN kan vi läsa vad en av deltagarna, Emelie från Uppsala, har att säga om saken: ”Det är fel att de ska hålla på och pussas öppet framför vanligt folk.”
Det är så lätt att glömma att det finns unga människor mitt ibland oss som kan kläcka ur sig sådana idiotiska uttalanden.
”Den sortens kärlek är fel”, säger Emelie vidare ”det är inte meningen att det ska vara tjejer med tjejer och killar med killar. Men ju mer de visar upp sig, ju mer anhängare får de. Och då blir det fler som tycker det är okej att vara så”.
Jag blir mörkrädd. Ingen Emelie från Uppsala ska komma och uttala sig om min kärlek för den vet hon absolut ingenting om.
Så länge jag riskerar att bli nedslagen på grund av att jag är tillsammans med en person av samma kön tänker jag gå där och trampa i den där paraden.
Publicerad på Stockholm Prides hemsida, augusti 2005.
Efter fredagens Dolly Parton-hyllning ställer jag mig frågan varför jag inte har några Dolly-skivor i min annars så generösa samling. Måste genast kolla efter en samlingsskiva.
Hon är ju så strålande på alla sätt och har skrivit så många fantastiska låtar!
Jag tror bestämt att de flesta av oss har en liten Dolly inom oss och världen vore både roligare och smartare om vi bara tillät oss att plocka fram henne lite oftare.
Nina Persson, som jag insett är den skandinaviska coolheten personifierad, började med att läsa upp ett fax från Dolly herself och temperaturen steg snabbt i parken. Och tänk om hon faktiskt skulle komma nästa år, som det ryktas om i tidningarna, det skulle ju toppa det mesta.
Fredagen på Pride brukar kännas som något slags mellandag och så var även i år. Man har inte riktigt hunnit återhämta sig från torsdagen och sparar sig gärna till lördagens avslutningsfest så det blir att man går på sparlåga.
Det var många bra artister på scen under kvällen, men de flesta okända för den stora massan. Förra årets miss Pride, Marko, levde ut sina drömmar och skakade loss till Carolas ”Genom allt”. Närmare Carola lär vi ju dessvärre aldrig komma (men vi har ju Dolly). Laleh, som jag antar är en flatfavorit, fick igång massan med sin underbara ”Invisible”. I övrigt hade jag gärna blivit lite mer överraskad, men jag fick i åtminstone min dagliga dos Pay TV, om än i något omstöpt form.
Höjdpunkten var så klart Robyn. Vi vill höra mer av Robyn på Pride! Vi vill höra hennes egna låtar också! När denna Stjärna sjöng de första tonerna av ”I will always love you” var min kväll komplett.
Bara på Pride träffar jag flator.
Varför är det så? Jag har aldrig pratat med så många som under dessa augustikvällar. Var är ni resten av året?
Det bästa med Pride är just mixen av människor med åtminstone det gemensamt att samtliga har ett mer eller mindre öppet sinne. Man möter folk man aldrig annars skulle träffa och vidgar sina vyer ytterligare. Det vore så kul om det kunde fortgå året runt.
Glädjen, gemenskapen och stoltheten måste ju inte ta slut när Pride Park stänger.
Publicerad på Stockholm Prides hemsida, augusti 2005.
Torsdag betyder schlager och schlager betyder kärlek
Pride Park förvandlades återigen till ett hav av schlagerälskare och förra årets något ljumna torsdagsafton föll snabbt i glömska.
I år svängde det mer och allsångspubliken på Skansen skulle ha haft en hel del att lära.
Det är en nästan obeskrivbart underbar känsla att stå bland alla dessa människor och skråla med i låtar man inte hört på ett decennium eller två. Sol, öl, musik, glada människor och en romans därtill är total lycka. Bättre än så blir det bara inte.
Kvällens drottning var utan konkurrens Arja Saijonmaa. En mer parant donna är lika svårfunnen som havre på ett risfält. Hon bjöd så klart på ”Högt över havet” och ”Vad du än trodde så trodde du fel”, som ju kändes kultförklarad redan innan hon floppade med den i Melodifestivalen.
Som bonus fick vi höra ”Om natten”, låten hon valde bort till Jessica Folckers stora glädje.
Det var också underbart att se Kikki Danielsson och Elisabeth Andreassen sjunga ”Dag efter dag” som Chips. Andra efterlängtade duor var systrarna Kätkä i Cat Cat (”Bye Bye Baby”) och Karin & Anders Glennmark (”Kall som is”).
Närmare paradiset kan man som schlagerbög inte komma, än att stå bland tusentals människor som också kan koreografin till Bel Airs ”1+1=2”. Man fylls lätt av en nostalgisk overklighetskänsla när barndomsidolerna plötsligt bara står där och sjunger sina gamla låtar.
Jag menar, har jag någonsin hört Annica Burman sjunga ”I en ding ding värld” bortsett från den där kvällen 1988? Jag tror inte det. Och så bara hon uppenbarar sig och texten sitter som klistrad i mitt huvud.
Anna Book har ju uppträtt både på Pride och i andra gaysammanhang hur många gånger som helst, ändå är det alltid lika lovely att höra hennes ”ABC”. Trots Lasse Holms oersättliga bidrag till schlagervärlden trodde jag väl aldrig att jag skulle få se honom på en Pride-scen. Men det fick jag, och med Monica Törnell dessutom!
Mina personliga höjdpunkter denna kväll var ändå då Elisabeth Andreassen sjöng en av mina absoluta favoritlåtar, ”I evighet”, samt Anabel Condes framförande av ESC-tvåan ”Vuelve conmigo”. Två drömmar som gick i uppfyllelse.
Man kan ju spekulera hur mycket som helst i hur det kommer sig att schlager är så poppis bland homosarna, men det får någon annan göra.
Jag älskar artisterna och jag älskar det lättsamma och glättiga och alla over-the-top-kreationer, men framförallt älskar jag musiken. Så enkelt är det faktiskt i mitt fall.
Inget slår en schyst refräng.
Ja, det skulle väl vara en riktigt läcker tonartshöjning i så fall.
År efter år ses vi som avlägsna släktingar
Under invigningen av Stockholm Pride slog det mig hur Pride betyder olika för olika människor.
Efter att ha varit med sedan Europride 1998 plus några Frigörelseveckor åren innan har meningen med Pride för mig gått från något väldigt politiskt till en fest och självklar semestervecka.
Under Priden i allmänhet och i Pride Park i synnerhet träffar jag människor jag aldrig annars träffar – år efter år ses vi som avlägsna släktingar. För andra är det första gången de deltar och ett sätt att synas, ett sätt att komma ut och sällan är väl publiken så mixad som under den här veckan.
Till onsdagens höjdpunkter hörde uppträdanden med Alcazar, Afro-Dite och Sylvia Vrethammar. Personligen såg jag mest fram emot att se Pay TV, som ju verkar vara en lika självklar del av Stockholm Pride som de regnbågsfärgade ballongerna i entrén.
I år gjorde Pay TV bland annat en härlig version av Madonnas ”Material Girl”.
Årets tema, hatbrott och homofobi, kändes plötsligt läskigt aktuellt i och med den skadegörelse som skedde redan innan festen hunnit börja. Länspolismästaren Carin Götblad sade i sitt bejublade, både allvarliga och humoristiska, invigningstal bland annat att Pride behövs för att provocera det som är norm, vare sig det handlar om sexuell läggning eller traditionella könsroller.
Publicerad på Stockholm Prides hemsida, augusti 2005.