Swedish hospital official quits over alleged anti-Semitic bullying by surgeon

Resignation of department head at Karolinska University Hospital comes after Simon Wiesenthal Center said complaints by Jewish employees were ignored

New Karolinska Solna University Hospital can be seen under construction in December 2016. (Wikipedia / Holger.Ellgaard / CC BY-SA)
New Karolinska Solna University Hospital can be seen under construction in December 2016. (Wikipedia / Holger.Ellgaard / CC BY-SA)

A department head at a Swedish hospital resigned following media reports about a physician in the department continually bullying Jewish staff.

The former manager left Karolinska University Hospital, near Stockholm, due to “a combination of personal reasons, but also because he has not handled the situation [efficiently] enough,” Annika Tibell, the hospital’s director, told Sveriges Television, the broadcaster reported Tuesday. The department head was not named in the report.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center made accusations against a surgeon from the hospital in a letter sent in October, the Aftonbladet daily reported.

Management at Karolinska knew about the “obvious and open anti-Semitism” expressed by the physician to at least one Jewish employee since February, but the complaints were “ignored,” the center’s dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, wrote in the letter, which was obtained by JTA.

At least two other Jewish employees quit until only the one mentioned by the Simon Wiesenthal Center remained, Cooper said.

Tibell told Aftonbladet that the institution has a “zero tolerance for all types of harassment and offensive treatment.” She also said that “relevant investigative measures” are being taken when “misunderstandings arise.”

According to Aftonbladet, Karolinska has launched an internal investigation and asked outside counsel to review the complaints.

The newspaper report did not elaborate on the alleged harassment. Cooper said he wasn’t at liberty to recount it to protect the identity of the alleged victim, who wishes to remain anonymous.

Svante Weyler, chairman of the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism, said the senior physician accused of abusing the Jewish employee posted anti-Semitic texts on Facebook.

“It shows extremely bad judgment, they are quite obviously anti-Semitic,” he told Aftonbladet. “If they are also part of a larger context, it is an issue.”

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