Swedish politics used to be easy - the right was pro-EU and pro-Israel. The left was more interested in the developing world and pro-Palestinian. But the times they are a'changing - I have blogged about the EU issue before, and with the Ship to Gaza tragedy on his hands, our
right wing foreign minister Carl Bildt faces a tough dilemma - Israel or Turkey?
During the last decade, Carl Bildt and Swedish politicians in general have been playing idiots - loudly complaining about Hamas' militant politics and hopeing that Israel, as a democracy, would follow ms. Clinton's advice. Surprise, surprise - they didn't. Israel is a country at war, and wars destroy the countries that wage them. If Israel was ever the only democracy in the middle east, it is quickly corrupted and tribalised.
Be that as it may - support for Israel in Sweden is more about opposing the left wing and appealing to Swedish christian voters.
But as Israel is brutalized, it becomes harder to be its friend. Not long ago Carl Bildt had to deal with Israeli demands to censor Swedish press, and an ambassador who was ore loyal to her host country than to Sweden. Would we send a communist as ambassador in Cuba? Anyway, try saying that Israel should accept also its opponents right to writer their opinions, without being called 'anti-semit'.
Meanwhile, down there where it acutally happens, things have changed a lot. Turkey, NATO member and once an ally of Israel against despotic arab states has emerged as a regional superpower, much more influential than Israel or Iran. As such it has found a new sense of dignity, and likes to think of itself as a peacemaker in the middle east. Unlike the US, Turkey has a lot to win and very little to lose from pointing out that Israel is acctively sabotaging the non-existing peace process, and the conflict between the countries have grown more and more bitter.
When Israeli pirates then kill numerous Turkish citizens on international water, it is understandable that Turkey's reaction is angry. That gives us the unlikely situation that the EU is currently being critizised severly by the EU and Turkey, while Egypt cares more for its ties to the US than for any Palestinians, international waters, democracy or the lives of activists.
Carl Bildt must have cried when he heard the news today. Within the EU he has been vocally supporting Turkey's bid for membership. He strongly condemned the Swedish opposition's statement that the genocide of Armenians in 1915 was a genocide. In short - he has had a very clear policy towards Turkey.
From today one it will be hard to be the friend of both Turkey and Israel. Carl Bildt must choose which friend to keep - my bet is that he goes for a less compromising stance towards Israel, in order to save Sweden's relationship to Turkey.