Reactions to the Anti-Semitism in Norway study

A compilation of reactions to the Anti-Semitism study released yesterday. It is interesting to note that many of the online talkbacks and related blog ping-backs confirm the main findings – there is a significant level of antisemitism in Norway.

The Chief Rabbi of Oslo, Michael Melchior says he is shaken in his foundations by the findings and demands that the state recognizes its responsibility, whereas former president of Parliament and Holocaust survivor, Jo Benchow, says the study reveals a grotesque lack of knowledge about Jews and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Norwegian society: He says that he is disappointed by his fellow Norwegians and criticizes the media for not having done its job in educating the public properly.

Verdens Gang, in full:

DISTURBING HATRED OF JEWS

Finally, the attitudes of Norwegians towards the Jews have been mapped. The report, by the Holocaust Center, was presented to the Minister of Inclusion, Inge Marthe Thorkildsen, on yesterday. We do not know whether the Norwegians’ anti-Semitism is on the increase, as such phenomena have not been reviewed formerly here. However, statistics reveal us carrying a number of prejudiced and faulty views on the Jews. 19 percent are in support of the claim “The Jews of the world are working in hiding to promote Jewish interests”. 26 percent holds the opinion “Jews looks upon themselves as better than others”. One in four holds the opinion the Jews are profiting on the Holocaust to their own advantage. 12 percent are giving the Jews the blame themselves over being persecuted.

Such terrifying conspiracy theories were behind the attacks on the Jews at all of times; they have revitalized themselves having sinister consequences worldwide in the recent ten years. The inflamed conflict in the Middle East is often merged with ancient anti-Semite attitudes. It seems to be a fact the increase in hatred of Jews is closely connected to events like the 9/11 terrorist attack and the flare-up in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Jewish Norwegians, having lived in Norway for generations as Norwegian citizens, are not responsible over the policies of Israel. We must separate legitimate criticism of Israeli policy from such anti-Semite demonization. The tiny group of Norwegian Jews, some 1500 people, is easily slipping under the radar since other, larger; groups are also subject to harassment and prejudices. However, Norwegian Jews are often receiving murder threats by mail, have bottles thrown at their synagogue, having swastikas drawn. Many are not aware of this problem. 30 percent holds the opinion there is no need over action concerning attitudes towards the Jews in Norway. Many also holds the opinion the Jews should not remind us of what happened to them in WW2.

As 38 percent of the opinion holds the opinion Israeli treatment of Palestinians is equal to the Nazis treatment of Jews in WW2, something is very wrong.                   So many Norwegians believing Israel is conducting genocide displays how bad knowledge of history really is. In the recent report, it is suggested knowledge of Jewish history, anti-Semitism and prejudices against other minorities in schools is to be strengthened. We are standing behind this recommendation with all of our hearts. Norway is also among those very few of our neighboring countries in which hate crimes against Jews is not being recorded. We need such statistics as soon as possible. Altogether, some 12.5 percent of the population has strong prejudices against the Jews. They count 600 000 people.

Dagbladet, their second editorial, in full:

XENOPHOBIA

On yesterday the first review on Norwegian anti-Semitism was published. The Center for studies of the Holocaust and minorities has mapped attitudes towards Jews and other minorities, on a mission by the Ministry of Children, Equality and Inclusion. The report, “Anti-Semitism in Norway” shows 12.5 percent of those responding having strong prejudices towards the Jews. One in four holds the opinion Jews looks upon themselves as better than others, while one in five holds the opinion “The Jews of the world are working in hiding to promote Jewish interests”. One in then has antipathy towards the Jews.

These figures are both shocking and depressing. Somewhat more reconciling is the review demonstrating the outspread of anti-Semitism being rather small compared to other countries. It also reveals strong support in the population over education on the Holocaust seen in a historical context. It is never the less obvious Norwegian smugness towards others. Muslims, Somalis and the Roam are among them we are most negative towards, here, schools have a job to do.

Vårt Land, in full:

TRAGIC HATRED OF JEWS

Norway is far from being the most anti-Semite country in Europe, as claimed by some. In yesterday’s report by the HL-Center, “Anti-Semitism in Norway?”, it is stated the extent of anti-Semite attitudes as such is relatively minor.

However, figures are bad enough. It is painful to read of Norwegians holding as their opinion the Jews are themselves to be blamed over being persecuted. With 8 percent of the respondents answering they do not want to have a Jew in their neighborhood or for a friend, this is a bad omen. We must presume many of those actually not know any Jews. The same apply to those agreeing with claims of the Jews regarding themselves to be better human beings than others. We see transparently how prejudices have a long life- tragically being disconnected from any knowledge and familiarity. The prejudices are targeting a small and subjected minority, only gradually having recovered after the attempt to exterminate them in WW2.

The report is a good and nuanced point of departure for a debate on the connection between a strong degree of criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism. The report shows there is a clear connection; however refute all critics of Israel as being dispersing of hatred directed at Jews.

We are very pleased with this report. Nevertheless, there is one weakness appended to it. A debate has been in existence over whether Muslim immigrants are importing anti-Semitism to Norway. This was not least a theme as the extent of anti-Semitism among students in Oslo schools was mapped. Unfortunately, Muslims are strongly underrepresented in the selection. Thereby, we neither have confirmed nor denied this hypothesis. We are in agreement with the recommendation over a study to follow up on attitudes towards the Jews among Muslims in Norway.

Through its reporting, Vårt Land has shown the police is not recording hate crimes motivated by anti-Semitism. In this new report, the government receives a clear recommendation over initiating such a statistic. We are in support of this initiative.

We need strengthened education. And, as suggested by the report, we also need documentation over experiences with anti-Semitism among the Norwegian Jews. In his speech on January the 27th, PM Jens Stoltenberg referred to Jews not daring to reveal their Jewishness. These stories must be told. We cannot, as the PM stated, accept this situation.

Other reactions include the following (headlines only), almost all of them published in the Christian daily Vårt Land. The other Christian dailies Dagen and Idag, have also published several comments, reactions and interviews.

ONE IN TWO HAS HEARD THE WORD “JEW” AS INVECTIVE

Vårt Hand 20120 05 30 Front Page headline

PREJUDICES AGAINST JEWS

Vårt Land 2012 05 30 p 6, 7, Lisa Marit Kalstad

SHOCKED OVER FIGURES

Vårt Land 2012 05 30 p 6, Lise Marit Kalstad

SHOCKED IN MY FOUNDATIONS

Vårt land 2012 05 30 p 7, Lise Marit Kalstad

ANTISEMITISM IS NOT ACCEPTABLE

Vårt Land 2012 05 30 p 7, Ingjerd Våge.

ONE IN FIVE BELIEVES IN JEWISH CONSPIRACY

Dagsavisen 2012 05 30 p 12, Kjell Arild Nilsen