Swede TV host: 'Israel guilty of Holocaust'

By Nathalie Rothschild, November 10, 2011
Gina Dirawi

Gina Dirawi

The Swedish public television broadcaster SVT has stoked controversy by hiring a blogger with a history of making extreme anti-Israeli remarks.

Gina Dirawi, a 20-year-old of Palestinian descent, has landed the biggest gig on Swedish television: hosting the music talent show Melodifestivalen.

When news website Nyheter 24 confronted SVT with one of Ms Dirawi's blog posts, titled "Israel imitates Hitler", a project leader for Melodifestivalen said it was "an unfortunate headline and she no longer stands for it".

However, Ms Dirawi has not expressed regret over the content of the post, in which she wrote: "Israel has time and again abused, murdered, thrown out innocent Palestinians from their homes and everybody is silent."

The post continued: "Sure, there are Palestinians who have thrown stones, launched rockets and act like idiots, but somehow people have to understand. If the immigrants in Sweden took over and threw all Swedes out of their homes, would you not have done the same?"

Ms Dirawi has also called Israel "the biggest terrorist" and, in one blog post, since deleted, wrote: "I don't understand how people who experienced the Holocaust can do the same to other people, and the world just looks on. This is the new Holocaust!"

Ms Dirawi, responding to the criticism levelled against her following Nyheter 24's reports, wrote: "I distance myself from all comparisons between Israel's actions and the Holocaust. It was a clumsy and ill-thought through formulation which I regret today… My purpose was never to denigrate Jews or to belittle the Holocaust."

SVT has summoned Ms Dirawi for a crisis meeting. Spokesperson Helga Baagøe called Ms Dirawi's opinions "non-democratic". She said: "We have an active responsibility - it's established in our broadcasting licence - that we must promote democracy."

Ms Dirawi, who has hosted TV and radio shows, once told SVT: "I want to be known as someone who changed people's opinions and did something good for society, like Martin Luther King."

The artists participating in Melodifestivalen compete to represent Sweden in the Eurovision song contest.

Last updated: 3:53pm, November 10 2011