There is an old paradox/joke about the law of averages. If the likelihood of getting on a plane with a bomb on it is (say) one in one hundred million, and the likelihood of getting on a plane with two bombs on it is (say) one in 20 billion, then the safest way to travel is to carry a bomb.
Like many other newly ‘diverse’ societies, Sweden keeps supplying the world with paradox-jokes of its own.
How about this one.
Question: ‘What is the best way to stay safe in Sweden?’
Answer: ‘Burn down a synagogue.’
Unfortunately this joke is being tested on a nation, in real-time.
I refer to the case of the 22-year old Palestinian whose asylum case has recently been causing news in Scandinavia. The man – whose name has not been released – entered Sweden illegally in 2016. The Swedish Migration Agency considered his application for asylum that same year and decided that he had no grounds for asylum. A deportation order was even approved. But as in so many other European countries, there is nothing wrong with being an illegal immigrant in Sweden. The authorities rarely bother to do anything about illegal migrants – even when they are ruled not to have any right to remain. And this seems to be the situation not just because the haystack the Swedish authorities are dealing with is too big, but because the authorities don’t seem much interested in needles.
Some readers will remember the event that made this 22-year-old famous. It happened in Gothenburg, Sweden, last December in the aftermath of President Trump’s announcement that the American embassy in Israel would finally be moving from Tel Aviv to the Israeli capital, Jerusalem. That announcement was actually a very small matter, but one which we were promised by the usual ‘media experts’ would have such profound implications for the Middle East. Indeed across the news channels we were warned that this was an event of such magnitude that the fabled ‘Arab Street’ would at once rise up. Citizens getting barrel-bombed in Homs would come out of their buildings saying, ‘Hold it, have you heard about the outrage going on in Jerusalem?’ The citizens of Yemen would come out of their bunkers and say ‘Enough of this nonsense, have you heard about the planning dispute up north?’ And so on.
Anyway, as I wrote at the time, to the extent that the ‘Arab Street’ did rise up, it rose up in Europe. After the American President made an announcement about a real estate deal in Israel it was a vibrant man in Amsterdam who chose to smash up the local Jewish kosher deli. It was a diverse crowd in Germany who burned the Star of David in the street. And it was a multicultural masked gang in Sweden who descended on the local synagogue and petrol-bombed the building while young Jews celebrating Chanukah had to be herded down into the basement for safety.
One of those who carried out that attack in Gothenburg last December was the 22-year-old Palestinian mentioned above. In June, to Sweden’s credit, he was found guilty in a court and sentenced to two years in prison. After serving that sentence it seemed obvious to at least one Swedish court that the man may have brought as much of the vibrancy and diversity of his home culture as his new country really wanted, and perhaps after serving his time in prison at the expense of the taxpayer Sweden really ought to thank him for his service and return him to Gaza.
But of course that judgement was too sensible. So in recent weeks the Court of Appeal for Western Sweden decided to overturn the order of the district court which would have seen the deportation of the petrol-bomber. Controversially, the Appeals Court accepted that the 22-year-old might suffer reprisals from Israel if he were to return to Gaza.
About which there is much to say. I suppose it might be pointed out that Gaza is not a place in need of very many more anti-Semites. Though neither is Sweden these days. Though if anyone is going to take an interest in Molotov-cocktail throwing anti-Semites it is probably better left to the Israeli authorities than their Swedish counterparts. Especially if it has already been established that you can break into Sweden, live in the country illegally and for it to take an act of racist arson even to mildly irk your hosts.
Of course there are enough examples of such madness to fill a book. But this latest paradox really is – for connoisseurs of the genre – one of the finest for some time.