The revelation that Wikileaks’ contactpersons in Sweden and Russia are the notorious antisemite Israel Shamir and his son Johannes Wahlström, is an indication that antisemitism now has entered the bloodstream of the establishment.
For people outside of Europe this is very hard to fathom. It has to do with a much deeper development in Europe, one that should worry Americans. Europe is shifting, groping, undergoing a major transformation, and people within the media establishment are allowing extremists to play a role. That is because political correctness, as practised in Europe, dulls the senses and deprives people of normal reflexes. Extremists may enter the fray, unnoticed.
Under normal circumstances Wahlström would never have been given a second chance. He burned his bridges when he wrote an article for a leftist magazine, Ordfront, back in December 2005, alleging that Israel controls Swedish media. This in itself was not shocking. That is staple food on the left. What caused an uproar was that he cited two of Swedens most experienced and renowned Middle East correspondents, Peter Löfgren from Swedish Television, and Lotta Schüllerqvist from Dagens Nyheter. It was they who explained how Israel rules and manipulates and bullies Swedish editorial rooms and journalists. Except for one thing: they never said as much. It was all a lie. Wahlström invented the whole story. He met both of them, but never bothered to write down their real replies, instead he invented what he wanted them to say.
He used them cynically, arrogantly and one must say – stupidly. How could he possibly expect to get away with it? He did not of course. Both Löfgren and Lotta Schüllerqvist wrote scathing denounciations and the editor of Ordfront was obliged to retract.
Under normal circumstances Wahlström would have been compromised for the rest of his professional life. But someone thought otherwise, and he was employed by none other that Swedish Televsion, the public broadcaster, working on documentaries. Thus he regained his credibility and could rebuild his career.
This man is both working for Wikileaks in Sweden and doling out and researching material for a number of newspapers, all owned by the Norwegian mediagroup Schibsted. Articles from the Wikileaks trove have been marked: Researched by Johannes Wahlström
His double role was spotlighted: how can he serve two masters? Those are conflicting loyalities.
But some went further, and looked at his past and political views. One who has stood out as particularly extreme, considering her prominent position, is the cultural editor of Sweden’s biggest daily, Aftonbladet, Åsa Linderborg. She hired Wahlström to write a series of articles on a competing mediagroup, Bonnier.
Wahlström was not the right man for the job. Put simply, he lacked the skills to analyze the company in economic terms, as well as its media strategy. Innuendoes are his style. He insinuated that Bonnier ran a smearcampaign against the socialdemocrats and promoted the conservative party, by clandestine means. Conspiracies populate his world. Where there are conspiracies, Jews are not far away. The Bonnier family is of course Jewish, and Wahlström reminded his readers of this fact.
This is recent history. The editors should have been aware when Wahlström was presented as their «researcher». But then he was already inside the fray, reinstated by SVT and Aftonbladet.
Someone wanted Wahlström whitewashed. Åsa Linderborg for one. But even she cannot hire an infamous journalist whithout others conniving.
The fact that Wahlströms father is Israel Shamir should have made both impossible names for Swedish media. Under normal cirucumstances a man with Shamirs record would have been anathema for any serious organization worthy of the name.
The fact that nothing has happened is a cause for concern. Has antisemitism entered the blood stream of establishmentmedia? In the past such attitudes could only be found on the margins. That the extreme left has had some legitimacy in the establishment has been a fact for some time. The new dimension is that extremism on the left is mixing with extremism on the right. In Sweden they call it the brown left.
Enter the green islamist antisemitism, and you have a lethal cocktail.
Those views seem to have gained some respectability, by fear or opportunism. They are felt to represent something that is there, that is to be reckoned with.
That the newspapers of Schibsted could employ such a person is astonishing. Most worrisome is the fact that the editors, like news editor of Norway’s biggest daily, VG, Helje Solberg, pretends everything is OK. Wahlström has not influenced their articles or so it seems. No need to worry.
Not long ago such a person would have been shunned like the plague. That was when antisemitism was a thing of the far right. Now it is a matter for leftists and islamists, and that is a different story.
We are in new territory.