Lifted from VG. Applause to Skartveit for this eminent oped
The great betrayal
Synagogue OSLO (AP) We were unable to protect our Jewish compatriots during the war. And today we are unable to give them the security they need. Do we simply not care?
OpEd by Hanne Skartveit
In the street where I lived for some years, just outside Washington, DC, we had a neighbor that almost every day dragged a large box and out of his car. When he was driving the kids to soccer practice, he dragged the box into the hallway of the house. And when he got home, he put the box back in the trunk of the car.
The box was filled with blankets, flashlights, water and dried food. The Jewish family, who eventually became our good friends, had kept the box in the car since the terrorist attack on U.S. 11 September 2001.
Al-Qaeda, who was behind the attack, had already urged Muslims to kill Americans and their allies – everywhere. Jews know from historical experience, that those who come with such threats, act according to what they say.
Jews also know that anti-Semitism is alive all over the world. It either began or ended with the Holocaust, the industrial genocide during the Second World War that murdered six million Jews.
Also in Norway, many Norwegian Jews feel insecure. There are reports of bullying and harassment of Jewish children in schools. The word “Jew” is used as an insult. A study from Oslo last year, showed that one of three Jewish children in the Oslo schools were often affected by racism. The corresponding figure for Muslim children was one of twenty.
Linked to Israel
The old anti-Semitism has a new companion in Norway. Many immigrants come from the Muslim world, where hatred of Jews is prevalent. The inflamed conflict in the Middle East is sometimes mixed in with the old anti-Semitism. As if the Norwegian Jews, Norwegian citizens who have lived in Norway for generations, are responsible for Israeli policies. Of course they are not.
The fear among Norwegian Jews has increased after the synagogue shooting in Oslo in 2006. This increased level of fear does not seem to cut any ice the Government. In fairness, the Jewish community got extra funds to invest in safety equipment in first year after the shooting. But later on, applications for funding for security and other security measures have been rejected. The leader of the Jewish community Ervin Kohn also calls for more police presence outside the synagogue, especially during worship.
it is beyond belief, that we as a society are unable to provide the small Jewish minority, with the security they need. The man behind the synagogue shooting, Arfan Bhatti, was treated in a very sympathetic manner. He was only convicted of serious vandalism, not terrorism. The court considered that the requirement of the Act, that the threat would be likely “to cause serious fear in a population,” was not met.
The reason? The term “population” does probably refer to a wider circle than “only the members of the Jewish community.” In other words, that there are too few Jews in Norway that they can be called a population. This justification sounds even more absurd when we know why there are so few Jews in Norway: Other Norwegians did much of the job when Jewish Norwegians were collected and sent to Nazi death camps during WWII.
A chapter of shame
Yesterday, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, apologized on behalf of us all, for the fact that Norwegian citizens helped to send Jews to their deaths in the autumn of 1942. It is a good thing that this apology was offered, for this shameful chapter in Norwegian history.
Stoltenberg gave his speech during the celebration of the International Holocaust Memorial Day, at the Akershus quay in Oslo. In fact, we should have marked 26November as the Norwegian Holocaust Memorial Day. It was the day Norwegian Jewish women and children were rounded up by the Norwegian police, and with the assistance of taxi drivers and others, taken to Akershus quay. Here they were thrown on board the ship “Donau”. A month before the men had been sent the same way.
The philosopher Espen Søbye has, on behalf of Statistics Norway, reviewed the agency’s role in the persecution of Norwegian Jews. He refers among other things, to an internal review the Ministry of Justice carried out after the war, which showed that all of Police chief Constables and Registrars had contributed to the creation of a separate Norwegian “Jew register”. This register was used to find Jewish Norwegians, and send them to death.
It is shameful to see, in retrospect, that those who assisted in identifying, locating and transporting Jewish Norwegian women and children down to the Akershus pier this November night, were not held accountable for their actions when the war was over.
In the spring of 1942, there were 1,419 Jews in Norway. 772 Jews were sent to the concentration camps. Only 34 of them survived. Norway lost half of its Jewish population. The corresponding figure for Denmark is only one percent, while Finland “only” lost almost 0.5 percent of its Jews to death camps.
The few Jews who returned to Norway after the war, had to organize their returns home on their own. Jewish Norwegians were not allowed to travel with the white buses that brought other Norwegian prisoners home from the concentration camps.
We still have not manage to recover the number of Norwegian Jews to match the level it was before the war.T here are no separate records of how many Jews, Christians and Muslims who live in Norway. The closest we come is the number of persons registered in the various religious communities.Throughout the 1990s was membership in the Jewish community of more than a thousand. After 2000, it has gone steadily downhill.
Today there are 819 registered members of the Jewish community – about the same as in 1970. In Germany, the number of Jews increased sharply during the same period. It is a paradox.
- It should be safe to be Jewish in Norway, Stoltenberg said yesterday.
The words must be followed by action. It is unacceptable that the remaining Jewish minority we have here in Norway must live with fear.