Jewish congregation in Oslo demands that hate crimes against Jews are registered

Lifted from Vårt Land

In 2010, Sweden had registered 161 cases of anti-Semitic hate crimes. Germany had 1,268 cases. And Norway? Nobody knows. Norwegian authorities do not keep, in fact, statistics on anti-Semitic hate crimes.

This provokes Ervin Kohn, head of the Jewish community (DMT).

– When you do not have an overview of these cases one is poorly equipped to fight against the virus that anti-Semitism represents in a society, he says.

Four threatening notes.

According to Kohn DMT suffered eleven anti-Semitic acts during the last month:

• Four threatening notes, some of them containing death threats.

• A Jewish taxi driver was harassed and threatened on his life at the airport.

• During a Jewish funeral procession, a man passing by shouted  “Fuck the Jews!”, as he did the Nazi greeting.

• Some men in a car harassed DMT members, and did the Nazi greeting.

• Two cases of stone throwing at the synagogue in Oslo, where perpetrators tried to smash the window with the star of David.

• Someone threw bottles at synagogue.

• Drew the swastika and the star of David in the snow on parked cars in the vicinity of the synagogue.

Three categories.

As it is now, the Norwegian police has three different subject categories of hate crime: ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion. There is no overview of the scope of Jew-hatred in Norway, but a study in the Oslo schools last year showed that one of three Jewish children have experienced racism. The DMT does not systematically record the amount of harassment and how many threats their members have received, and Kohn is therefore reluctant to come up with exact numbers.

Figures released by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) shows that at least 16 European countries registers anti-Semitic crime. Kohn believes that Jew hatred is a separate genre within racism, and he is upset that Norway lumps the hate crimes into three unspecific bags .

– It is about acknowledging how scary this virus is. The unwillingness to register anti-Semitism is for me a sign that the police does not care, Kohn says.

– too small numbers.

In 2009, about 240 cases of hate crimes were reported to the police, a number that has remained stable in recent years. The majority of the cases had ethnicity as a subject, whereas only 21 of the cases were religiously motivated.

The Police claims taht the numbers are too small to result in more detailed statistics.

– The point of statistics is to get a good overview, follow the development and implement necessary measures. The figures for hate crimes are too small that it is expedient to divide into several categories, says the head of the Police Directorate, Morten Hojem Ervik.

He disagrees with the statement that the police are indifferent to anti-Semitism.

– We have worked actively with hate crimes for years, and have more expertise in this area than just a few years ago. The fact that we are not registering anti-Semitism in a separate category, does not mean that we are indifferent, Ervik says.

The leader of Anti-Racist Centre, Kari Helene Partapuoli, thinks very few cases is a bad reason not to keep statistics, and supports Kohn’s demand for more detailed registration.

– With a Jewish minority of about 1,000 persons, the figures will always be small.Many believe that antisemitism does not exist in Norway, which makes it difficult to get something done about the problem, she points out.

To their credit, Vårt Land also follows up the story with a separate oped:

Police insensitivity to Jews

Is the police’s negative attitude to keeping separate statistics for hate crimes against Jew simply caused by institutional inertia,or  are there other and darker motives? s

The Norwegian society in general and police in particular has a bad history when it comes to treatment of Jews. It is not easy to understand why the Norwegian police in the year of 2012 is so very reluctant to keep statistics on hate crimes against Jews.

In one month the Jewish community saw eleven cases of harassment, vandalism and threats. These figures have not been produced by the police, but by the Jewish community itself, Vårt Land writes today.

Despite the fact that many countries do keep this type of statistics, for instance Sweden,  the head of the Police Directorate, Morten Hojem Ervik says that the numbers are too small for there to be an exclusive set of statistics with regards to Jews.

He is criticized by Kari Helene Partapuoli, the leader of the Anti-Racist Center. She correctly points out that the Jewish minority is so small in Norway that it is unlikely that they would represent a major trend in the overall statistics.

The Norwegian police  has been criticized for having been too laid back in the face of terror in the aftermath of July 22. The Police Director Øystein Mæland has since appeared with a more general attitude of humility, but what happens when this exemplified with a concrete case? Then, it does not appear that the police has learned its lesson.

In any case, the leader of the Jewish community seriously provoked by the sluggish approach by the police. Ervin Kohn says to Vårt Land that the lack of overview makes it harder to fight the virus that anti-Semitism represents.

Is the police’s negative attitude to keeping proper statistics caused by sheer sluggishness, or does something more sinister lie behind it?  One thing is certain, the police has not shown much sensitivity in this particular matter.