Swedish Children for Sale
By Ilya Meyer
Nov 29, 2004
In June 2004, Swedish mother Elizabeth Krantz's five children were kidnapped
from Sweden by Krantz's estranged Palestinian husband Ismail Nowajah. The children -- Adam,
Amina, Zakarias, Miriam and Sara -- range in age from six to sixteen.
They were taken to the
Gaza Strip against their will and in contravention of Swedish law and have since been
incarcerated in separate locations. Their mother, from a small town outside
Gothenburg on Sweden's west coast, has custody of the children, with visitation
rights granted to her estranged husband.
Ismail Nowajah says he disapproves of the upbringing his children were getting
in Sweden, where they were born, and that he wishes to bring them up according
to a stricter Islamic code, which he says cannot be done in Sweden but is
possible in Gaza.
Nowajah has signaled, however, that he is willing to release
the children back into the custody of their mother in exchange for five million
Swedish kronor (about 720,000 US dollars).
[Anyone who would sell their children - no matter what the amount - doesn't love
The children are Swedes. They are unfamiliar with Arab culture and have no
knowledge of the Arabic language. They are thus unable to communicate in the
environment into which they have been forcibly placed. They are denied
schooling, and 15-year-old Miriam suffers from an unusual form of diabetes --
type 1 -- that requires special medication, treatment that has thus far been
denied her by her father. [who is willing
to sell her]
"A Sensitive Issue"
Commenting on the case, the Swedish Foreign Office noted that the situation is
highly sensitive since the children have dual nationality -- Swedish and
Palestinian -- and that according to Palestinian law the children are wards of
This is a remarkable point of view, on several accounts. First of all,
law applies to Swedish citizens, and in fact the children were kidnapped from
Sweden. No other legislation is relevant until the children have been returned
home. The father is in breach of Swedish law for a crime committed on Swedish
The second consideration is the illogic of the Foreign Office's standpoint: the
children do not - and in point of law cannot - have dual nationality.
no country called Palestine. While the emergence of such a country may well be a
highly desirable goal for reasons of geopolitical interest, Palestine does not
exist today. The children therefore do not have dual nationality, and Sweden
accordingly need take no such consideration into account.
"Citizens" Yet "Stateless": Politics at Play
Even more remarkable about Sweden's claim that the children Palestinian citizens
is Sweden's role in providing asylum to countless Palestinians as "stateless
refugees". Apparently, these people are either stateless and
[or] nationals - depending on the political capital at stake.
In the most recent twist in the plight of Krantz's children, they have been
enrolled in a refugee program by UNWRA. Sweden is one of the largest per capita
contributors to UN aid in the Gaza Strip. Now Sweden finds itself in the
remarkable position of paying to maintain as refugees Swedish citizens who are
held against their will in Gaza.
It was not until she packed her bags and flew to Israel on her own that
Elisabeth Krantz was finally able to see her children, albeit for only a few
short hours before she was forced to leave. Their desperate plea: "When are we
Mr Jan Norlander of the Swedish Foreign Office repeated most recently in a radio
interview on November 15 that his staff must tread carefully in this highly
volatile area, as they do not want to expose either themselves or Elisabeth
Krantz to danger. This is not an argument calculated to put
Elisabeth's mind at ease. Krantz herself took the risk that the Swedish consular
staff are paid to take on her behalf when she visited her children.
At no time
have the Swedish consular staff attempted to visit the children to monitor their
condition, and they never offered Krantz the opportunity to do so.
No Help From Official Sweden
Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds visited Ramallah in September 2004.
Freivalds maintains that she received assurances from Yasser Arafat that he had
dealt with the issue and that the children would soon be on their way home. That
was then, Arafat is no more, and the children are still imprisoned without
access to medical care or schooling.
Elisabeth Krantz contacted Swedish MP Yvonne Ruwaida -- herself a Palestinian --
in the hope that Ms Ruwaida might be inclined to have the matter cleared up. MP Ruwaida never acknowledged receipt of the letter.
There was some hope that
Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson's attendance at Yasser Arafat's funeral
might assist in opening doors to the Palestinian hierarchy. After all, PM
Persson was accompanied by Arafat's lifelong friend, former Swedish Foreign
Minister Sten Andersson. The two dignitaries landed in Cairo and, like most of
the non-Arab participants, witnessed the proceedings from afar, returning to
Sweden within two hours of touching down. So from Swedish officialdom, there
appears to be little hope.
End Financial Aid. Immediately
There remains one highly effective means of persuading the Palestinian Authority
to abide by its legal and moral obligations: Sweden must stop all financial aid
to the PA until the children have been returned to their mother.
aid can always be restored, the children's stolen youth cannot.
The unfortunate reality is that the Swedish government finds itself at a
formative stage in pursuit of a Palestinian state. It appears the Swedish
authorities will go to any length to avoid jeopardizing the situation,
government carves out a role for itself as a peace-broker and nation-maker.
The welfare of five Swedish children and their Swedish mother simply gets in the
way of Swedish political ambition. The children have been sold for political
coinage -- and Swedish citizens are paying for the children's incarceration with
their own money.
This is so appalling on the part of Sweden's leaders.
Why is Palestine such an important 'endeavor' for Europeans?
Why call ye me, Lord, Lord,
And do not the things which I say?
Europe has many 'Christian churches'.
Here are a few from Sweden alone:
Peter's Church in Malmö - situated next to Lund University
Gamla Stan - Tyska Kyrkan
There are more 'churches' in Sweden - but these few
are all that are needed - to give some perspective to the fact that there are
those [who took on the responsibility of speaking the Truth] who were
given FAR reaching voices - Even in Sweden.
With so many 'churches' - why is Sweden supporting the
These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every
man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and
peace in your gates. [cities]
Howl, O gate; cry, O city; thou, whole Palestina, art
dissolved: for there shall come from the north a smoke, and none shall be
alone in his appointed times.
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth
with his neighbour.
Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Questions on the issue can be addressed to:
Elisabeth Krantz, mother: home/mobile:
+46 300-778 35 / +46 708-43 64 16
Annelie Enochsson, MP, Christian Democrats, home/mobile:
+46 31-49 20 82 / +46 706-55 06 50
Ilya Meyer, writer: home/mobile:
+46 31-69 44 31 / +46 708-69 04 50
Ilya Meyer is Chairman of the Board of Information for
the Gothenburg Jewish Community and a board member of the Swedish-Israel
Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org