AJC CEO David Harris issued the following statement about the death yesterday of Per Ahlmark, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, Member of Parliament, and human rights advocate:

Per Ahlmark was the real thing — that all too rare righteous individual. To the Jewish people, he was an authentic hero of our age, and, believe me, I don’t use the word hero lightly.

But what was most impressive about this man is not what he was — a politician, an author, a columnist — but who he was.

Per Ahlmark devoted his life, his every waking moment, to the same values that defined Jan Karski, the legendary Polish Catholic who stood up for the Jewish people during the Holocaust and throughout his life, which is precisely why AJC gave its very first Jan Karski Award, in 2004, to him.

He spoke out, again and again, on the danger of resurgent anti-Semitism. He never hesitated to confront those who use anti-Zionism as a convenient mask for anti-Semitism.

He stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel throughout his life, traveling to the Jewish state dozens of times, including when war broke out, to express his unwavering support.

And Per Ahlmark stood foursquare in defense of human rights, whether for Soviet Jews or Bosnian Muslims, and in steadfast opposition to those in the international community who would practice double standards or selective moral indignation.

His views were not always popular in Sweden, where he fought strenuously against what he saw as a suffocating political correctness and a tendency to downplay the enemies of democracy and liberal values.

We have lost a dear, devoted friend, a champion of passionate principle, and a fearless voice of reason and truth.

We extend our condolences to his grieving family, and shall always cherish the memory of this remarkable individual.

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