Norwegian Jews: Dagbladet demonizes Israel

It is not only the Jewish Congregation in Oslo that reacts with disgust to Finn Graffs offensive drawing. An article by Vårt Land, explores not only the shock and disgust among Norwegian Jews, but also that of other editors, including Jahn Otto Johansen, the former (and formidable) editor in chief of Dagbladet.

Prisoner swap of the century: jedem das Seine was written over the gates of Buchenwald KZ camp, Finn Graff has used the same inscription on his Gaza entry drawing

Norwegian Jews think Dagbladet demonizes Israel

Norwegian Jews react with shock and disgust to a drawing that compares Israel to Nazi Germany

Martin Eikeland

The cartoonist Finn Graff has caused angry reactions. On the day when 1,027 Palestinian prisoners were released from Israeli prisons in exchange for release of soldier Gilad Shalit, Dagbladet published a drawing in which Graff uses the same insignia as the Nazis used for the Buchenwald concentration camp, “Jedem das Seine”. Freely translated it means something like “Everyone gets what they deserve.”

– This is distasteful and is lacking in understanding of history. This is a clear violation. This is demonization, writes Erwin Kohn in a letter to the editor. He is the leader of the Jewish community in Oslo.

– It is difficult to understand Graff’s agenda in a manner other than that he wants to stick the Nazi stamp on Israel, Kohn writes.

Detail of Graffs drawing: Jedem das seine, or each one gets as he deserves


Finn Graff has on several occasions used Nazi slogans and Nazi symbols in relation to the Israeli goevrnment. Finn Graff was born in Germany in 1938 and came as a refugee to Norway in 1946. One wonders if this drawign reflects the values he was raised with as a child? Finn Graff was made Knight First Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav in 2007. Would it be possible to have this honor withdrawn?

Find Graff is unapologetic about his drawing or the use of the Nazi slogan related to Israel.

– I have used the phrase many times. I do not want to harm Jews in general. It is the Israeli government I want to frame. It is the terrible occupation of Palestinian land and the harassment of the Palestinians I react against.

– Why do you use a Nazi slogans related to the state of Israel?

– Because I think it fits. In connection with the prisoners released from Israeli prisons, they’re taken to Gaza. All of Gaza is one big prison camp. After the release from an Israeli prison they’re taken to a prison camp that Israel too controls, says Graff.

Typical of Graff.

Jahn Otto Johansen says the drawing is typical of Finn Graff. Johansen says he would not have reacted if the drawing was by a Jewish artist

NRK and Dagbladet veteran Jahn Otto Johansen who among those who react to Graffs drawing.

– It is typical Finn Graff to do something like that. Had this drawing been made ​​by a Jewish artist, I would not have reacted.

But when  a non-Jew who draws it, it is very inappropriate, says Johansen, who for seven years was editor of the newspaper.

Missing the point

Also, Vårt Land editor in chief, Erling Rimehaug, criticizes Dagbladet for publishing this drawing. In an online editorial in Rimehaug writes:

“You can say what you want about Israel’s policies against Palestinians. But comparing it to Nazi extermination policy, is so far away from reality that it completely misses its goal. Moreover, it is an insult to all victims of the Holocaust.

This is especially inappropriate on a day when Israel has opened the wounds of many of its own citizens, who have experienced that Palestinian terrorists have killed innocent civilians, “Rimehaug writes, pointing out that it is the third time Dagbladet draws comparisons between Israel and the Nazi regime in Germany. He calls for explanations from Dagbladet’s editor in chief.

Dagbladet's Editor in Chief Lars Helle is upset to learn that Dagbladet once again is being criticized for publishing an illustration that draws comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany. Helle is leaving his post at Dagbladet, to take up his new job as Editor in Chief Aftenbladet in Stavanger. That newspaper too has an unhealthy record with Israel.

Not again.

Dagbladet’s editor Lars Helle is upset by the criticism is has received for publishing Finn Graff’s drawings.

– Are they at it again?

In an open and democratic society I demand respect for Dagbladet’s right to publish these drawings. Find Graff’s drawings are crass and edgy. We have objections against that. He has a provocative line which tells a clear language. We must be allowed to publish these drawings without being attacked for it.

– What assessments did you do before you published this drawing, on the exact same day as the biggest release of Palestinian prisoners of all times?

– The drawing illustrated an oped, which analyzes the  the situation in the Palestinian territories. It was entirely appropriate.

– What thoughts did you have before you allowed it?

– I did not see it myself. But this drawing is far from somehting what I would consider to stop, says chief editor Lars Helle, who warns that the political debate in Norway after 22/7 is becoming toothless.

– If we end up with a political debate in which the most important thing is to be kind to each other, the entire society has been lead astray, he said.


The Jewish spokesman in Norway, Erwin Kohn, concludes his oped in Vårt Land by describing Graff drawing :

– This is an attempt at a comparison that is insipid, taken ​​out of all proportions and reeks of historical revisionism.