The New York Times was right. It’s not very often we say that. Two days ago, the newspaper began a story about the country of Sweden’s official Twitter account with, “Chances of embarrassment are unusually high when you are @Sweden, the nation’s official Twitter spokesperson.” Every week, a new Swede is handed control of the country’s Twitter feed and gives a personal face and voice to the country of more than nine million. The social media strategy behind the Twitter account is meant to showcase a “typical Swede” and promote the diversity of the Nordic country as a possible tourist destination. This morning, this week’s “tweeter” (and in my opinion the entire country) have some explaining and soul-searching to do.

That’s the first of a series of tweets sent this morning surrounding who is a Jew and how exactly one is supposed to identify one. Here’s another:

Sonja, this week’s tweeter, seems to believe there are no Jews in her country (despite there being more than 18,000 nationally).

This led me to do a search for the history of the Jewish community in Sweden. Knowing Europe’s infamous relationship with anti-Semitism (increased attacks on French Jews, an attempted ban on kosher slaughter in the Netherlands, the rise of a neo-Nazi party in Greece, etc.) I wasn’t surprised to see this headline from a 2010 edition of the Telegraph, “Jews leave Swedish city after sharp rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes.”

Sweden’s tweeter seems to have backed off after getting some heated responses and already a few unflattering articles, but perhaps the country should take this as an opportunity to have a discussion about Sweden’s Jewish community and Swedish anti-Semitism. How has a country that was once known for being a safe harbor for Jews fallen this low? While the country’s seven-month-old Twitter account has pushed the edge a number of times (the vulgarity is what led to my unfollowing it several months back), today’s tweets moved beyond sensationalist. Instead of demanding an apology and moving forward, Sweden and the tweeter in question should evaluate why the tweets were so offensive and how this mother of two and other “typical Swedes” could learn about Jews both in Sweden and beyond.

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