The Kristallnach commemoration has come and gone, and with it, some shocking revelations and apparent soul searching.
A Norwegian Jew writes how he no longer feel comfortable wearing his Magen David in public, and gets a touchy-feely reply from a representative of the very political party that has really stirred the pot in Norway. Talk backs range from sympathetic to illustrating why Mr. Kahn finds it difficult to openly identify as a Jew in Norway.
Also, one of the events organized for the commemoration was marred by the intolerable and very cowardly death threat to young Florence Aryanik who was to hold an appeal. Nobody should be able to bully our best youth, whether they be foolish islamists who moan Ms Aryanik isn’t sufficiently Muslim to their unsavory taste, or equally intellectually challenged neo-nazi thugs.
A f***ing disgrace and a plague on the houses of racist leftists, crazy Islamists, and stupid neo-nazis!
Lifted from aftenposten.no (doctored google translate)
Before I bore the Star of David with pride
Now I get a lump in the belly with the thought of wearing the Star of David in public in my own town.
Nicholas Kahn , psychologist and Jewish
Published: 08.nov . 2013 7:47 peers 08.nov . 2013 9:48 p.m.
This summer I was on holiday in New York, one of the cities in the world with most Jews. Everywhere I could observe Jews who bore the Star of David visibly, Jews who openly and proudly showed off their identity and culture.
The Star of David is Judaism’s hallmark . To wear it around your neck is an expression of Jewish identity. And although the Star of David originally not religiously rooted , it has become a hallmark and symbol for Jews worldwide.
Adult men and young boys in New York sported their kippah , the traditional Jewish scull cap, as the most natural thing in the world . And they conversed with an apparent ease with Muslims , African-Americans and Anglo-Saxon . It was simply natural.
For a Jew from Little Norway , this was a powerful experience, and seeing the courage they showed moved me profoundly. I was happy that they had such a clear pride and confidence in their own identity . And I thought that they felt a strong unity that was about more than rallying around a minority background: They helped to enrich the community they lived in.
What surprised me was my immediate reaction when I saw the Star of David in public. There was a sense of shame . It was something I wanted to hide.
I am proud to be a Jew. Why do I not wear the Star of David around my neck ? Why do I get a lump in the belly by the mere thought of wearing t the Star of David openly in my own town , like New York residents are doing in their? Is it about fear , or is it because I did not feel Jewish enough?
It was horrid to note that I, as a Jew , who has been so proud of my identity, was ashamed of the symbol of Judaism. The fact that my instinctive reaction was to hide it from others before me, confused me. What did these feelings ?
As a young Jewish boy in Trondheim on 80 – and 90’s everybody at school knew about my Judaism, and I happily gave lectures on Bar Mizwah, Jewish home life and the Hebrew language. Even circumcision was something I spoke openly about. I think my parents were thinking that it was somewhat indiscreet to share all this information with my friends , but for me this was something to be proud of.
I felt special, and perhaps more importantly, I felt welcomed by friends and teachers. My Judaism was something that was as natural to me and my friends as being a Rosenborg supporter or went skiing. Admittedly, I posed with waxless skis because the secret of waxing skis is not a natural part of the skills a Jewish family will pass on from generation to generation, but still …
Being Jewish was in my childhood simply an uncomplicated matter, thanks to the acceptance I felt from my friends and my teachers at school. It is something I will always be grateful for .
Unfortunately, much of this has changed for the worse today . The last 10-15 years we Norwegian Jews have gained experience what anti-Semitism can be. We have experienced shots at the synagogue in Oslo, molotov cocktail at the synagogue in Trondheim, death threats pr . letters, threats and attacks in open day light and resurgence of conspiracy theories. The list is much longer , but the point is clear.
The number of incidents and utterances fueled with Jew-hatred and anti-Semitism are on the increase, and it shows.
In parallel with this development, we find that it is increasingly difficult to maintain activity in our Jewish congregations . Fewer and fewer meet for worship, and many of our friends and family members experience discomfort when they manifest themselves as Jews .
I get sad when I think that the current Norwegian Jewish children must learn about their religion and cultural heritage in a climate that is not only steeped in pride and enthusiasm, but also in an atmosphere of protection and fear. It’s awfully hard to raise proud Jewish children currently .
9 November is the 75 years since Kristallnacht . The evening Jewish businesses and homes were attacked and synagogues torched. The night is again the epitome of and the start of the Nazi extermination process led by Adolf Hitler. It was the start of the final solution. I’m not going to repeat the entire course of events of that fateful night now.
What happened is not the most important . It is time to see what we have learned.
I like to think that we have come so far that we should still be wailing over our lost family members. Family members most of our living family never had met.
These stories that we heard from our parents and grandparents about the cruel goodbyes under dramatic circumstances , stories of fear for their own lives , stories about going from being integrated into Norwegian society day to being unwanted pests day. We ‘ve heard the stories , but have we learned?
Repeats ancestral error
I doubt . We have seen the public debate about the Roma people evolve into a show of racism and anti – ziganism. 75 years after Kristallnacht and the Holocaust we are committing the errors of our forefathers again :
We have a public debate that shows signs of dehumanization of an entire people group. As a Jew, I feel a responsibility to show solidarity with the Roma people , and I hope more follow suit. That one must have a separate Romani Human Rights Center , based in Trondheim, is a defeat. It’s a shame.
I put away my star of David several years ago. It’s so long ago since I’ve worn it had it on I do not know where it is anymore. It is not certain that it would have had serious consequences for me if I were to wear it , but I do not take the chance. I fear that my Judaism should be a matter used against me, and used to mock me. I would have felt small and different, like a stranger in my own home .
Once I carried it with pride. Today I do not use the star of David because I want to protect myself against the feeling of being unwanted .
Snorre Valen of the Socialist Left party pretends to be shocked, as if he has forgotten that under the stewardship of his own party in Government, Oslo was turned into a grim field of violence where Jews were chased off the streets, and their own party leader at that time, then Finance Minister saw it fit to mix with the blood hungry crowd that among other things chanted death to Jews. How can he be surprised by the outcome of such obvious encouragement?
Lifted from aftenposten.no (doctored google translate)
Carry the Star of David , Nikolaj
Trondheim, where you and I have grown up, Nikolaj . There can no longer wear the Star of David . It ‘s unbearable.
Snorre Valen MP for SV and from Trondhjem
Published: 08.nov . 2013 1:14 p.m. Updated : 09.nov . 2013 24:35
“( …) Some but signed their papers, and some stood guard,
and some herded them in, and some dropped the pellets ,
and some spread the ashes , and some hosed the walls ,
and some planted the wheat , and some poured the steel ,
and some cleared the rails, and some raised the cattle .
Some smelled the smoke , some just heard the news . Were they Germans ?
Were they Nazis ? Were they human ? Who killed the Jews ?
The stars will remember the gold , the sun will remember the shoes ,
the moon will remember the skin . But who killed the Jews ? ”
– From ” Riddle ” by William Heyen .
It was ordinary Norwegians who arrested the Norwegian Jews , brought them in schools and workplaces , and drove them to deportation . In Trondheim quite common “tronders” made the genocide possible. No, not the fanatical , bloodthirsty SS or Gestapo people . With the efforts of ordinary “tronders” more than half of the Jewish community in Trondheim was killed.
Trondheim, the town in Norway where Jews before the war contributed so much to the society. Trondheim after the war , where almost every student for decades heard the Holocaust survivor and Trondheimer Julius Paltiel tell about his encounter with the absolute horror.
Trondheim, where you and I have grown up, Nikolaj. There, you no longer can carry your David Star. It is unbearable.
The irony of the Holocaust aftermath
It is a cruel irony in the Holocaust repercussions . When the scale of racism and hate is the genocide against the Jews , there is much one can get away with . I have heard the shouts against the Roma in Trondheim , I have seen the contempt in the eyes that abuse them , just like you Nikolaj .
The genocide against the Jews was such a violent crime that many other crimes can grow up in its shadow. For, which injustice does not pale against the Holocaust ?
Once a thoroughly organized, industrialized murder of millions is the symbol of anti-Semitism , how much more is needed until we fear something similar again?
If we can agree in our condemnation of the genocide – how much less serious does not the cruel remark to a Jewish child appear, or when a Jewish teenager must respond to Israel’s occupation of Palestine , or when Rogalands Avis in total brainlessness publishes a letter signed ” Proud anti-Semite ” a few days after the Kristallnacht last year .
Or that ordinary politicians without further reflection, and without further reactions, can reel off things like ” enough is enough, get a bus, send them out .” About a minority who, like the Jews were victims of the Holocaust.
I often feel frustrated when my engagement for the Palestinians is equated with anti-Semitism , and when Norwegian Jews are pushed in front of fanatical supporters of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. And the media make a serious mistake when the Jewish community again and again must say what they think about the occupation.
As if not all people of faith throughout history have demonstrated their ability to fight . As if there is something distinctive in that the Jews , just like Christians, Muslims , Buddhists, occupy. And as if Norwegian Jews have anything to do with an occupation in the Middle East.
Responsibility and shame
But I have a big responsibility as well . I and others who fight for a free Palestine and an end to the Israeli occupation. We have a responsibility when green Hamas flags pop up at demonstrations. When the occupation is compared to the Nazi atrocities . When the word”Jew” is substituted for the name of a state. When there is an aching wound in each year’s commemoration of Kristallnacht : that the Jewish community is not included.
I wish that all of us in the Palestinian movement has always trod carefully. But we have not .
Nikolaj , you write that it is a defeat that we must have a Romani Human Rights Center in Trondheim. That is a shame. And you’re absolutely right.
9 November, we all bow their heads in shame. Not only because of the ordinary people like me did, who without further reflection as if it was something common and normal, sent Norwegian Jews to their deaths, but also of our own shame .
The shame that won’t be gone until we all talk about people as human beings again. And it is not over until you can walk in the streets of Trondheim and – if you so desired – can wear your Star of David again, as the most natural thing in the world.
Oh, please somebody, hand me a timber log. I need to wipe those crocodile tears!