Following NRK journalist Tormod Strand’s program on anti-Semitism in Norwegian schools, the media is all over the issue. But this is not new. Anti-Semitism in the schools was a big issue almost exactly one year ago as well. The news is that even the problem was known, it has been allowed to fester.
Anti-Semitism in the schools anno 2009
Following the anti-Jewish riots in January, several newspapers discovered that anti-Semitism had crept back into Norwegian schools. Morgenbladet published one article, and there was also this anguished letter from a fourteen-year old in Oslo East. The screenshot above is from another – “Jew, an insult” from Dagbladet on April 17th 2009 – with the picture showing Minister Anniken Huitfeldt (Labor) in a classroom. At the time Ms.Huitfeldt promoted the Government’s Action Plan for furthering equality and prevent ethnic discrimination. Dagbladet presents the Action Plan thus:
The new Action Plan is to further equality and precent ethnic discrimination. In practice this means a massive attitude-shaping work in kindergardens, schools and extra-curricular milieus all over the country. The Directorate of Education is to develop a five-year program for an inclusive learning- and development milieu.
Obviously the massive attitude-shaping work did not lead to the desired results. Given, that is, that fighting anti-Semitism was a key priority of the plan.
Action Plan focuses on Islamophobia, not anti-Semitism
As it happens the Action Plan does not give priority to anti-Semitism as such. Instead we see that priority is given to combating Islamophobia. The Action Plan uses the word “Jew” only twice: on page six, in a descriptive context where Jews are identified as being one of the Norwegian minorities, most of whom belong to the Jewish congregations in Trondheim and Oslo, on page 67 where the Action Plan mentions that it is normal to find content on the internet which is racist towards, among other, Jews, muslims and Same (Norwegian minority – also known as Laplanders). The Action Plan uses the word “anti-Semitism” once, on page 67 in the sentence: “In the report it is also pointed to different manifestations of anti-Semitism in Norway”. The word “muslim” is mentioned four times, all on page 67:
The integration barometer for 2005 shows that Norwegians’ relationships with muslims are characterized by uncertainty and skepticism. ECRI’s fourth annual report points out how civilian civic organizations agree that islamophobia in Norway has shown an increase since the third report. Political as well as more general debate is characterized by repeated associations between muslims on the one hand and terrorism and violence on the other, as well as generalizations and stereotypes in terms of special cultural traits in people with muslim backgrounds.
Contrast this with the paltry mention of anti-Semitism:
In the report it is also pointed at different manifestations of anti-Semitism in Norway. It is emphasized that on the internet it is common to find racist contents targeting among other Jews, muslims and Same.
Concluding, we have the following: the anti-Jewish riots of January 2009, followed by the discovery of anti-Semitism in Norwegian schools, to which Government responds by implementing an Action Plan which focuses on Islamophobia, after which anti-Semitism is allowed to fester until it again is brought to attention by NRK’s Tormod Strand. What now, do we wait another year and then do the same again?
How is it that when a fourteen-year old can identify anti-Semitism one full year ago, the problem is left to grow, and then treated as news again?