... that Norway is becoming a hotbed of anti-Semitism, that Norwegians are all Jew-hating semi-Nazis and that Jews who live in Norway are afraid to venture out onto the streets. If you're a foreigner reading this, you may have heard/read/seen news stories to this effect. I'm here to tell you that it just ain't so. Don't trust what you read in the Jerusalem Post.
The fact of the matter is that there is an active smear campaign going on against Norway in order to blacken our reputation internationally. We are supposedly the most anti-Semitic nation in Europe, and the increasing hatred against Israel and the Jews is being fuelled by the Norwegian media and the intellectual elite (JPost). I think you can spot the problem right there, actually. >:-)
First: Yes, it is true that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Norway ... as it is all over Western Europe. This is due to Muslim immigration. The more Muslims live in any given country, the more anti-Semitism you will find in that country, because your average Muslim hates Jews. I'm not kidding. They're raised that way. But even so, this is neither here nor there ... because it's us ethnic Norwegians that fundamentalist Zionists are out to get, and not the immigrants who live among us. Why is that?
In many other European countries, public discourse on this issue is rather limited. Sweden is a good example. It's very difficult to find an audience for criticism of Israel in Sweden ... Swedish media is very biased in Israel's favor, and it's frighteningly easy to get labelled an anti-Semite. Public debate in Norway is different. Swedes reading Norwegian newspapers are often surprised, sometimes even shocked by the openness of the debate here. Please note: This is a good thing. Your average Norwegian is not afraid to speak his or her mind on this issue. And many Norwegians are very critical of the way Israel touts its supposed status as the only democracy in the Middle East (gag me with a spoon) and then uses its enormous military power to brutalize the Palestinians they have herded in behind their walls and fences. It's hard for anyone looking at the situation objectively and rationally to not be critical. But of course, objectivity and rationality are not qualities that our Israeli attackers are interested in or even capable of.
The simple fact that many Israelis have a very hard time grasping is that disagreeing with, criticizing and opposing the policies of the Israeli government does not equal anti-Semitism. It doesn't even necessarily equal anti-Zionism. And to call Norway a hotbed of anti-Semitism is actually just plain ridiculous. For the longest time, Norway was one of Israel's staunchest supporters. Socialists in Norway, and many Social Democrats as well, admired Israel tremendously and saw it, for the first couple of decades of its existence, as a herald of a glorious velvet revolution. But then Israel built up its massive war machine, fell into bed with the US and began its history as a brutal occupant ... and I'm sure you can imagine that many idealists were rather disappointed (a feeling which has been and still is further aggravated by Israeli claims of being such a glorious free democracy). Even so, we don't have a history of hating Israel. Through the years, we have been much closer to Israel than we IMO ought to have been. We've awarded Israeli leaders the Peace Prize. We've sold Israel weapons, we even gave them the heavy water they needed to make their nukes. Why is it that Norway has been so essential to peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine for so many years? Is it because Israeli leaders have been so convinced that we're all anti-Semites? No, of course not. It's because they trusted us as their friends to do the right thing and try to help. But a true friend will also put their foot down when that is what is necessary.
And in a true democracy, like Norway, people may say what they truly believe ... unlike in fake democracies like Israel where the authorities prefer to brainwash the population with fascist propaganda till they think the entire world is against them. It's really sad to see it. But if you get the chance, talk to a Norwegian Jew. Granted, there aren't many of them ... only a couple thousand. But I promise you that they aren't afraid to walk the streets in our cities - their cities. They aren't afraid of their fellow Norwegians. They don't feel like we hate them, because we don't! We are no more anti-Semitic than any other Europeans - in fact, I suspect we are rather less so than many. But people speak their minds here ... they speak of the things that they see ... and the actions of the state of Israel speak louder than words.
In conclusion: 'Israel' does not equal 'Jews'. 'Well founded criticism of political decisions' does not equal 'anti-Semitism' or 'hatred of Jews'. The Jerusalem Post will print unfounded lies (until they remove the articles because too many people call them on it). If you hear the names Erez Uriely or David Weiss in connection with stories about Norway and anti-Semitism, please be advised that Uriely is a right-wing nutcase who was kicked out of the Mosaic Community in Norway several years ago because of his association with right-wing extremist groups, and Weiss most likely doesn't even exist. Manfred Gerstenfeld is a dangerous man who is willing to tell quite horrendous lies to further his own agenda - he may truly believe that Norwegians are barbaric and unintelligent, but I personally would rather question the intelligence of a people that actually doesn't understand that their own barbaric behavior towards fellow human beings for the crime of living in a certain area is probably more harmful to their own cause than any foreign criticism could ever be.
The problem here isn't whether Norwegians are anti-Semites ... the problem is rather the amazing ability of a dangerously high number of Israelis to make any criticism of the state of Israel, no matter how fair and well-founded, seem like the preliminary stages of an industrial mass extinction of all the world's Jews.
Please don't believe these slanderous rumors. That is what they are - slanders and smears. If these stories come to your attention, please take a moment of your time to think about exactly who they benefit - who would want to influence your opinion on this matter and why. And don't think badly of us Norwegians before you've met us - we can be quite nice really once you get to know us. :-)
Thank you. :-)
Update, Saturday: As has been suspected, David Weiss in fact does not exist. What a surprise. >:-)
2 weeks ago