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Anti-Semitism in the Northern European Countries
Summary of Lecture in Helsinki 10 November 2012
Last week, leading Norwegian non-fiction writer Hanne Nabintu Herland told an audience in Jerusalem that Norway is the most anti-Semitic country in the Western world. She had earlier made the same observation in an interview. Herland explained this by saying, “The current Labor/radical left Norwegian government is promoting an extreme one-sided and negative stance toward Israel. It is responsible for creating a “politically-correct” hatred of Israel among many people in the country.” Herland is a prominent writer; her latest book was at the top of the non-fiction book ratings in Norway.
If you ask experts on anti-Semitism which town they consider to be the most anti-Semitic in Europe, several will tell you that Malmö in Sweden is a serious contender. In the past decade, a substantial part of the Jewish community left this third-largest city of Sweden due to the physical and verbal violence they have suffered through. This has mainly come from parts of the large Muslim community there. It is also aggravated by the fact that Ilmar Reepalu, the Social Democrat Mayor of the town is a part-time anti-Semite.
Yet there were already many anti-Semitic facts known in Norway ten years ago. Berit Reisel, the Jewish member of the Norwegian state commission on restitution was threatened by the chairman of the commission. Her telephone conversations were tapped by a Norwegian government body. Jewish students were already harassed in schools. Two members of the Oslo Jewish community had received bullets in the mail. Norwegian and Danish trade unions were the first to propose boycotts of Israel. In 2006 during the Second Lebanon War, the cantor of the Oslo community was beaten on the street. A Pakistani man fired shots at the Oslo synagogue. A Jewish cemetery in Oslo was desecrated.
What has changed since? First of all, there have been more anti-Semitic acts. One example: In 2009 during the Cast Lead War in Gaza, the largest anti-Semitic riots ever in Norway took place in Oslo. A Christian man who walked to a pro-Israel demonstration with an Israeli flag was beaten and severely wounded. When I met him last year I saw his scars. Projectiles, which could have killed people, were thrown at the pro-Israel demonstrators. Almost all of the perpetrators were Muslims. Eirik Eiglad, a Norwegian, has described this in a booklet in English titled The anti-Jewish Riots in Oslo.
What has also changed is that the information about anti-Semitism in Norway and Sweden is much better known abroad than it was five years ago. The story of Malmo, Muslim anti-Semitism and its part-time anti-Semitic mayor, has been published frequently in many countries.
The Norwegian Authorities as Hate Mongers
A hate cartoon from Norway shows well the overlap between anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism. It also illustrates the complexity of contemporary anti-Semitism and how its part-time helpers interact. It was drawn by German-born cartoonist Finn Graff and published in July 2006 by the country’s third largest dailyDagbladet.1 It portrays then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as a Nazi. In March 2007, Norway honored this hate monger Graff. He was made a Knight in the prestigious Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav by Norwegian King Harald V, for his contribution as an artist.
Here is a picture of then Norwegian Minister of Finance Kristin Halvorsen at an anti-Israeli demonstration standing next to a sign which reads that the US and Israel are the axis of the greatest evil. There were also shouts of “death to the Jews.” there.
The next example is of something which is not anti-Semitism, but whitewashing of a Nazi. In 2009, the Norwegian government financed a year long commemoration of literature Nobel Prize winner and Norwegian weiter Knut Hamsun. The government spent more than $20 million dollars on this commemoration, including building a museum in his honor. Who was Knut Hamsun? The New York Times noted that he “welcomed the brutal German occupation of Norway during World War II and gave his Nobel Prize in Literature as a gift to the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels. Hamsun later flew to meet Hitler … in Bavaria.”2 Thus the Norwegian Labor party rehabilitated an admirer of Hitler and Goebbels.
One cannot understand the current anti-Semitism and its manifestation as anti-Israelism without understanding a type of racism which I call ‘humanitarian racism’. Such a humantarian racist says that only white or powerful colored people can be held responsible for their acts. Non-white people, unless they are very powerful are considered as victims. For humanitarian racists that means they should look away as much as they can from their crimes even if they are major. I might recall that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that all people are responsible for their acts. That is also what separates man from animals.
The success of the Palestinian narrative and its many lies in the Western world is, to a large extent, due to its continuous promotion by humanitarian racists. They present the Palestinians as victims only, referring as little as possible to the major crimes they perpetrate or support. In this way, humanitarian racists have become supporters or allies of Palestinian anti-Semites, terrorists and genocide-promoters.
In the Nordic countries, humanitarian racism is widespread. Once again, one can view this extremely well in Norway. Its government ignores crimes in the Muslim world or in Palestinian society as much as possible.
Nordic countries are often looked upon as places of progress, as bastions of egalitarianism, freedom of speech, centers of fairness, homes to civilized nations. Today, several anti-Semitism experts and journalists put major questions marks next to each of these claims, in particular insofar as Norway and Sweden are concerned.
Footnotes:1 “Olmert the Nazi,” caricature by Finn Graff, Dagbladet, 10 July 2006.
2 Walter Gibbs, “Norwegian Nobel Laureate, Once Shunned, Is Now Celebrated,” New York Times, 27 February 2009.