Fear (and loathing?) in Norway

After having been hit so close to home, feelings are raw among Norwegian Jews. The Scandianvian Jewish communities are closely intertwined, through family bonds and years of friendship and shared experiences.

The Norwegian elite too, is displaying an impressive level of apparent care, Norwegian Jews must feel secure in Norway, they say. The Prime Minister Erna Solberg visited the synagogue in a show of solidarity. A few dare to mention that some Muslims just have it in for the Jews, and some journalists have even specifically pointed out one of the main findings in the Holocaust Centre study on antisemitic attitudes in Norway, namely, that 1 in 3 who sympathise with the Palestinians harbour unhealthy attitudes towards Jews. However, those same journalists then, in their analyses, present a picture of Israeli politicians as whining and pulling the antisemitism card whenever Israel is criticised, without even mentioning that Israel is the ONLY country singled out for criticism, every time.

The president of the congregation, Ervin Kohn said in an interview, that whereas he felt that the collaboration with the police was very good, he was a bit more concerned about the lack of input from the Security Police (who in turn say its not their job to be in touch with the Jewish Congregation). With beefed up security and closure of the street where the Jewish congregation’s community centre is located for the next two years, the immediate security concerns have been dealt with. However (from personal experience), it is uncomfortable to come to worship through security sluices and body scan. It detracts from the spiritual renewal from prayers and study, I find.

Many have stressed the need not to create more enemy lines, and to not inflate, or aggravate the tensions between (some parts of) the Muslim and Jewish communities. I tend to agree. But there is an absolute need to address the incitement that comes from official Palestinian sources. To continue to ignore death threats to Israel (which is the same as the Jews), to not cut funding to NGOs that single out Israel for boycott under the wildest accusations of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, while not batting an eyelid for calls for genocide and crimes against humanity against Jews in Israel, is a quiet yet important acceptance of this old hatred in new garb, antisemitism dressed up as anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism.

Until our politicians don’t reject the anti-Israel drivel, exemplified by  former PM Stoltenberg calmly giving his Labour day speech with anti-Israel banners waving under his nose, not – I will let you know, held by a Muslim, but by the rabid ultra left who have thrown all their principles over board and happily jump to bed with Islamic misogynists who insult us all at every turn, including their own faith – we shall have an ever increasing problematic situation for Jews in Europe, including in Norway. Until politicians and other decision makers decide that no matter what kids are told at home, they are going to have a thorough education in the Holocaust and history of anti-Semitism, and they are going to have their traditional beliefs about the Middle East challenged by facts. And above all,  stop infantilising people. Hold them responsible and reject the culture of victimhood that seems to be the driving force for radicalisation and a ticket to Syria.

Here is an heretical thought: what if efforts to integrate refugees and asylum seekers were in part given to the Jewish communities around Europe? As a people we have millenia’s worth of retaining our faith and traditions, while living seamlessly with the majority population (that is,whenever the majority population hasn’t turned against us and tried to wipe us out). Once my Sephardic rabbi told me that he feels much more comfortable in the company of observant Muslims than the general secular population. This because, our faith traditions are quite similar, with emphasis on many similar rituals, modesty for both sexes and social justice. I think my dear Rabbi Mohadeb was on to something there….