Norway and Anti-Semitism
Just how bad it really is.
A huge international debate has developed around who is responsible for influencing the thoughts of the despicable Norwegian mass murderer, Anders Breivik. His acts have also generated much unusual international publicity about Norway. This is therefore an appropriate time to investigate another type of Norwegian hate mongering: the major anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism there.
There are many indications that anti-Semitism, partly manifesting itself as anti-Israelism, is widespread in Norway – which has less than 2,000 Jews. Many acts of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism occur in this country with a population of less than 5 million.
In June this year, a quantitative study was published on racism and anti-Semitism in Oslo high schools. It was the first official report on an aspect of anti-Semitism in Norway. The study revealed that one third of Jewish children were physically or verbally harassed at least two or three times a month. That was far more than other children. The next in line were Buddhists at 10%, followed by Muslims at 5%. Fifty-one percent of the students consider the word “Jew” as pejorative.
There is also much anecdotal evidence about this. One Jewish girl told the media that all Jewish children she knows have been harassed in school. After Breivik ‘s massacre, a Jewish schoolteacher said in an interview with the Jewish Telegraph Agency that he has Jewish students who do not publicly identify as such, to avoid harassment.
As far as adult Norwegian anti-Semites are concerned, they are often too polite to make anti-Semitic remarks to a Jew in his presence. Thus, some Jews can honestly claim that they have never experienced anti-Semitism personally.
At the beginning of this century, the Jewish community began to complain publicly about the greatly increased anti-Semitism. Thereafter, two of their active members received an envelope with a live bullet in it. This was confirmed to me by various people, none of whom wanted their names mentioned publicly. Subsequently the Jewish community lowered its profile.
There has been anti-Jewish violence on various occasions. In 2006 during the Second Lebanon War, the cantor of the Oslo community was beaten up on the street. A Pakistani man fired shots at the synagogue and the Jewish cemetery was desecrated. In 2009 during the Cast Lead War in Gaza, the largest anti-Semitic riots ever in Norway took place in Oslo. A Christian man who walked to a pro-Israel demonstration with an Israeli flag was beaten up and severely wounded. When I met him recently I saw his scars. Projectiles, which could have killed people, were thrown at the demonstrators. The perpetrators were almost all Muslim immigrants. Eirik Eiglad, a Norwegian has described this in a booklet in English titled The anti-Jewish Riots in Oslo.
One also finds classic anti-Semitism in the media in a typically Norwegian form. In 2008, comedian Otto Jespersen told his nationwide TV audience that he commiserated with the billions of fleas and lice that lost their lives in the German gas chambers without having done anything wrong other than settling on people of Jewish background. Such an outrageous statement could have happened elsewhere perhaps, because management cannot control a live performance in front of the cameras. What made this incident specifically Norwegian was that the management of TV2, the country’s second largest TV station, supported Jespersen’s “freedom of speech.”
Another uniquely Norwegian example of anti-Semitism promotion is that this same TV station invited Holocaust denier David Irving for an interview. They paid his expenses and for more than one quarter of an hour, he expressed his views after the unqualified interviewer asked superficial questions. In several countries, Irving is denied entry and it’s highly doubtful any other Western European country would give him TV time, let alone with an ignorant interviewer.
In a more indirect way: in 2009 Norway spent $20 million on festivities on the occasion of the 150th birthday of Nobel Prize for Literature winner Knut Hamsun. A new museum was built in his honor. This ardent Hitler-admirer had dedicated his Nobel Prize to Joseph Goebbels and had been condemned after the Second World War. The Norwegian government promised that they would also point out his collaboration with the Nazis during the festivities. The Simon Wiesenthal Center has documented that this promise was largely neglected.
Norway is a democracy ruled by ‘progressive’ hate-mongers. The current government headed by Labor Party Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is soft on anti-Israel terror and sometimes even indirectly promotes it. In view of the horrific murders at the Utoya camp of the AUF Labor youth movement, many commentators have been rightly wary to fully expose the anti-Israel hatred which was promoted there to youngsters of 14 years old and up. Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere spoke there a day before the murders and called upon Israel to remove the security barrier, which has dramatically reduced the number of Palestinian suicide bombings. Demands like that make Stoere an indirect promoter of terror. He was also photographed at Utoya in front of a sign stating “Boycott Israel.”
According to the country’s largest paper, Verdens Gang, the Norwegian government financed the Gaza War trip of two extreme left-wing physicians, Mads Gilbert and Erik Fosse, through a development organization. They spread their anti-Israel hatred widely, via the international media, but failed to mention the fact that the Hamas leadership was camped in the hospital where they were working. After 9-11, Gilbert had told the daily Dagbladet that the mass murders by Arabs in the U.S. were justified. Norway is a NATO ally of the U.S. One would expect that government ministers in a democracy would have nothing to do with someone who justifies terror, leave alone against an ally. Yet Stoltenberg called the physicians in Gaza and stated that all of Norway stood behind them. Later, Gilbert and Fosse wrote a book in which they claimed that Israel went into Gaza to kill women and children. This is a new version of the classic anti-Semitic blood libel. Stoere wrote a back cover comment for the book.
When President Obama appointed Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff, former Conservative Prime Minister Kare Willoch stated that the appointment of a Jew to that position was bad for the peace process. In a rare public reaction, a Norwegian Jewish journalist, Mona Levin, called him an anti-Semite.
Another extreme example of government-sponsored incitement occurred in autumn 2010, when the Norwegian government co-financed an exhibition of anti-Israel hate graphics from the artist Hakon Gullvag, in Damascus. The Norwegian Jewish community, in light of its dependence on the government, often does not react publicly to such acts of hate. However, when a leading daily, Aftenposten, printed one of Gullvags works Oslo’s rabbi, Yoav Melchior, could no longer remain silent. He wrote that he hid the paper from his son. One can give tens of other such examples of hate promotion.
To understand all this one has to know that the ruling cultural elite in Norway largely consists of Labor Party and Far Left constituents. Its worldview dominates politics, media, universities, culture, trade unions, NGOs, the official churches and so on. It is characterized by a far-reaching lack of self-doubt and self-criticism with an overlay of Marxism. This combination often produces a mixture of arrogance, shamelessness, lack of morality and intellectual dishonesty. The elite has succeeded in misinforming a large part of the population about Israel. This supports the expansion of anti-Semitism.
With such a mindset, it is easy for the ‘progressive’ elite to abuse their positions of power in order to demonize opponents, such as some opposition politicians and evangelical church movements. These people often invest great effort on behalf of Jews and Israel. The demonization is also directed at individuals who make “politically incorrect” statements.
The situation is likely to get worse. After the murders, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said that Norway will react by becoming an even more democratic, open and humanitarian society. What will probably happen is just the opposite. Some dissenters tell me that they now practice self-censorship and remain silent. One encouraged me to continue exposing what goes on in the country saying: “As almost everyone in opposition in Norway shuts up, and for the moment seem to completely have lost their right to freedom-of-speech, it is nice to see voices from the outside analyzing and speaking up.”
Norwegian establishment figures often demonize these dissenters as extremists. In America however, one would probably define them as liberal Republicans. Another one of them wrote to me about the establishment: “I think they actually hate us for being professional, if we were raving phobes they wouldn’t have minded, but we beat them at their own game. They have so much to hide. What they don’t understand is that it is impossible to seal the doors in the internet age. What they fall back on is the blame game and witch hunt.” It is a sign of the times in Norway that these quotes better remain nameless.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld has published 20 books. Two of these address Norwegian anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism.