Not Even the Digital Is Secure
Religion and community | English | Sweden
Lena Roos, Professor, Study of Religions, Södertörn University
Ever since the Hamas attack and kidnappings of October 7th, Jewish congregations and organizations in Sweden have experienced a need for heightened security and vigilance on the part of their members. In addition to the trauma of having many members with family and friends in Israel, Swedish Jews once again have to deal with the difficulty of the general public to differentiate between the state of Israel and Jews elsewhere. As a result, some community leaders discourage members from wearing Jewish symbols such as the Star of David or speaking Hebrew in public places. Even a purely academic setting as the Forum for Jewish studies at Uppsala University announces that they will forthwith have security guards at their open lectures and seminars.
Does this situation make these organizations reactivate digital forms used during the pandemic? Forum for Jewish studies at Uppsala University continue with having their events in hybrid form, both on campus and over zoom as they have since the pandemic, well aware of the fact that even an online format is not completely secure since one of their online lectures was hacked and replaced by painfully loud music and a pornographic film. One of the Swedish rabbis, who spends uncountable hours on the phone these days, supporting devastated and frightened members, sighs and says: “It is not the same. When something like this happens, you need to be together”. Being together seems to be the very thing that is not possible today, since many public events in the Jewish congregations are cancelled for security reasons. But in a situation when some members are afraid of even having an online connection to their congregation, cancelling subscriptions to e-newsletters, not even the digital seems to be secure enough.
Jews in other parts of Europe seem to be experiencing the same, prompting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to promise increased security around synagogues, after a thwarted arson attack against a Berlin synagogue and a series of events when Stars of David were painted on apartment buildings with Jewish residents. (A lot of pain’: Europe’s Jews fear rising antisemitism after Hamas attack | Antisemitism | The Guardian). In the article cited above, one young man tells the reporter that he consciously delays his posts on social media, not wanting to advertise his current location.