Støre in Haaretz: Norway has zero tolerance for intolerance

Roma people makeshift camp in Oslo

In an oped in Haaretz, our FM brags that Norway has zero tolerance for intolerance, in a carefully worded attempt to dispel rumors that it is not easy to be a Jew in Norway – what with reports that show high levels of anti-semitic attitudes and intolerance in the elitist academic and pro-Palestininan quarters, and the Jewish community’s own survey which showed that Jewish children and youth face intolerance and anti-Semitism almost on a daily basis. The result of the attitudes uncovered, is that many Norwegian Jews are reluctant to identify as Jews or let neighbors know that they are, well, Jews.

Such a reputation is of course a blemish on our house, and so now the propaganda apparatus has been switched on to let the world know that Norway has zero tolerance for intolerance. Apart from the new educational plan for combatting anti-Semitism and other forms of racism in the Norwegian schools (which has been funded with a whopping NOK 6 million, in comparison, a project which aims to give children and youth a better understanding of the arts and culture, has been funded with NOK 40 million), concrete actions to address the underlying problem of historic anti-Semitism and intolerance in Norway are so far, non-existent.

Other, than of course, FM Støre’s well penned attempt to clean up our facade. But even this exercise stands out as distinctly out of touch. “Norway has zero tolerance for intolerance”? You must be joking, Mr. Foreign Minister. Or are you inferring that it is only intolerance towards Jews (and maybe Israelis) that is temporarily out of vogue? Because, it certainly is unusually quiet on the Israel bashing front – which is unlikely to be related to the fact that there is nothing very exciting going on in Israel, and with the PA practically in bankruptcy, which incidentally cannot be blamed on Israel (they were denied a request for a loan to save the sorry asses of the PA cronies), but on Arab states’ failure to pay up, and rampant corruption in the PA itself.

Perhaps the previously mentioned reports, plus the fact that Norway has been widely criticized for its very anti-Israel-cum-anti-Semitic attitude, has taught the zealots the need to bridle their passions? Plus maybe the ongoing and steadily more bloody, more tragic civil war in Syria, which has had an uncomfortable echo here at home also has had a sobering effect? The radical artist Håkon Gullvåg is perhaps reflecting on his poor judgement with letting himself in with the bloodthirsty and despotic in-crowd in Damascus, while the Viva Palestina crowd also may have their reasons for keeping quiet this summer?

However, it is the domestic context which makes our FM’s bragging seem so utterly out of touch. Merely days before we are set to commemorate the 22 of July tragedy, hate is flowing through our streets as never before. In a revolting reversal of the love rallies that filled the streets of Oslo after the terror, the people of Oslo, including clerics and politicians, are now aiming their darts at the Roma people, who, whilst claiming the right of living in accordance with their culture and tradition, also are citizens of EU countries, and have therefore every right to visit the country, work in the country, and if they so wish, live in the country (but I do agree that the sanitary installations for their camps could be massively improved). Just like Norwegian elites have every right to go to live and work in Paris, London (that is me…), Madrid, competing for jobs no doubt the locals would dearly liked to have for themselves.

But no. The Roma are unwanted. Even the Church of Norway does not want them and gave them a very polite and very public eviction note to leave their makeshift camp outside the Sofienberg church in Oslo. Politicians left, right and center are busy pretending the problem does not exist, or make the unusual demand that the Law must be equal for all, including Roma. Similar calls were not heard when the “Palestinian camp” had to be vacated, with activists calling for a sit-down action to protest the closure, and political parties  (in particular the Socialistic Left Party) trying to score on the emotional high any mention of the word ‘Palestine’ tends to arouse in the general population. None of these publicity stunts for the Roma, and the Prime Ministers Facebook is swamped with hate messages against this genuinely persecuted group, yet it is far from the minds of the Labor apparatchics who manage the page to close the comments section or to prosecute people who break the hate speech Law.

So this brings us back to the original statement: Norway has zero tolerance for intolerance. Really, Mr. Foreign Minister?