To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.
The two despicable terror attacks in Oslo and on the island of Utoya carried out by Anders Breivik propelled Norway onto center stage.
Norway is a country that normally draws little attention – even Swedes and Danes who can read Norwegian are generally uninterested in what happens there. The only annual event that regularly generates publicity for Norway is the awarding of the Noble Peace prize.
Due to this lack of attention, the international image of Norwegian society is mostly superficial and differs from the reality.
What is currently being reported about Norway in the international media gives the impression that the country’s population of nearly 5 million represents much of what is good in the world. Statistics seemingly prove this. Norway is ranked the ninth most peaceful country in the world; second in the Press Freedom Index; tenth among the least corrupt countries in the world; and fourth in a survey that “rates 21 rich countries on how much they help poor countries build prosperity, good government and security.”
Its major oil and gas earnings make Norway a wealthy country. In fact, according to the United Nations Development Program, which ranks countries based on factors such as income, education, and life expectancy, it is the best country in the world in which to live.
All of this supports the image the Norwegian elites want to present to the world – that of a progressive paradise, open-minded, tolerant, moral, democratic, fair and humanitarian.
But upon closer scrutiny, Norway reflects a different picture. It is difficult to analyze complex entities like nation-states. Sometimes, therefore, it helps to observe a country through a smaller lens in order to better perceive the reality behind the myths. Often, a country’s attitude toward Jews and Israel is a useful indicator.
This is happens to be the case with Norway, however surprising that news might come to some. After all, the number of Jews in Norway is miniscule – under 2,000, of whom 800 belong to the two existing Jewish communities in Oslo and Trondheim. And Israel is, of course, a small and distant country.
Nonetheless, a recent survey published by the Oslo municipality found that 33 percent of Jewish high school students are physically threatened or abused at least two to three times a month. One Jewish girl declared that all Jewish students she knows have been harassed at school.
This phenomenon has been known for at least the past ten years, yet authorities have chosen to ignore it.
The major Norwegian media are characterized by shallowness, political correctness, and a conspicuous lack of self-criticism. Norway’s elites include in their ranks major purveyors of hatred toward Israel. Several ministers in the Labor-left socialist government are at least nominal anti-Semites while the state TV and radio company NRK has its anti-Israel bias officially approved by the Broadcasting Council. There is a dominant strain of anti-Israel feeling in the Norwegian media and a significant anti-Israel stance in its academic circles.
Trade unions in Norway are much better described as hate unions. Some Norwegian Lutheran bishops are major hate inciters. Because the tragedy of the recent terror attacks is so huge, no one was paying much attention to the fact that before the shootings at the youth camp, participants were incited against Israel by their leaders from the Labor Party youth movement and visiting lecturers, including Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Störe. Signs reading “Boycott Israel” were clearly visible in press photographs from the site.
Fortunately, there are many true and politically active friends of Israel in Norway. One finds them mainly among opposition politicians and parties and pro-Zionist Christians. They cannot, however, compensate for the evil continuously inflicted by the cultural elites. If one were to challenge Norwegian Jews in a debate, they would have no choice but to admit they are rarely – if ever – considered an integral part of Norway, and are only “tolerated” by society. Even several Norwegian Jews in Israel who helped me with my research wish to remain anonymous.
As stated above, attitudes toward Jews and Israel provide a lens on Norwegian society. Thereafter, one can see similar phenomena concerning others more easily. Non-Jewish academics with dissenting views have told me how they are discriminated against in universities. Christians, particularly evangelicals, complain about how the elites despise and marginalize them. The Christian weekly Norge Idag – the only paper that dares take a critical look at the Norwegian elites – is hampered in many ways. It’s clear the intolerance of those currently in power runs quite deep.
Last week Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg stated publicly that Norway’s answer to the heinous terror attacks will be “more democracy, more openness and more humanity, but never again more naivety.”
If this statement is more than propaganda, the Norwegian government and its country’s cultural elites have a long and difficult road ahead. They will need to radically change their groupthink. It will mean the abandonment of “political correctness” and the discarding of Norway’s hyped up self-image.
Whether those currently in power will be able to accomplish these goals is highly doubtful.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
About the Author: Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is a board member and former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (2000-2012). He is a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award (2012) of the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Egypt’s al-Sisi is in an expansionist mood. He wants Israel’s permission to take over Judea and Samaria.
Cries of justice for Michael Brown drowned out any call for justice for Police Officer Daryl Wilson.
Former PM Ariel Sharon succinctly said, “the fate of Netzarim (Gush Katif) is the fate of Tel-Aviv.”
Unrest in YESHA and J’m helps Abbas and Abdullah defuse anger, gain politically and appear moderates
A “Shliach” means to do acts with complete devotion and dedication in order to help bring Moshiach.
The pogroms in Chevron took place eighty five years ago, in 1929; the Holocaust began seventy-five years ago in 1939; the joint attack of Israel’s neighbors against the Jewish State of Israel happened sixty-six years ago… yet, world history of anti-Semitism did not stop there, but continues until today. Yes, the primitive reality of Jews […]
“We don’t just care for the children; we make sure they have the best quality of life.”
“Why do people get complacent with the things they’re told?”
Arab opposition to a Jewish State of any size was made known by word and deed in the form of terror
Operation Moses: First time in history that non-blacks came to Africa to free blacks from oppression
As Arabs murder and maim Jews, Jordan’s leaders bark the blood libel of “Israeli aggression.”
Perhaps attacking a terrorist’s legacy broadly and publicly would dissuade others from terrorism?
Studies show that large numbers of Europeans hold a demonic view of Israel.
On February 17, the Dutch Nederland 2 TV station broadcast an interview with Dutch Turkish youth conducted by volunteer youth worker Mehmet Sahin. In the broadcast the youngsters expressed their admiration for Hitler and his role in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust.
On October 15, the Knesset voted unanimously to dissolve itself. Elections will be held on January 22, 2013. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to take the step after realizing he could not obtain a majority for his proposed budget.
When Israelis say, “I worry about my grandchildren’s future,” it has a radically different dimension than similar concerns expressed in many other countries.
Since Oslo we have had some Israeli governments emulate Neville Chamberlain’s foolish position. While the current government has not done so, there certainly is vast room for improvement in the presentation of Israel’s case to the world.
There are few societies where the contradiction between Holocaust distortion and Holocaust commemoration is as pronounced as it is in the Netherlands. This phenomenon came to the fore earlier this month on National Memorial Day, May 4, designated to commemorate the many victims of the German occupier. One hundred thousand Dutch Jews – more than 70 percent of the country’s pre-war community – were by far the largest group of victims.
Last month the IDF responded to rockets being launched from Gaza into southern Israel by bombing Gazan targets. It took little time for some media outlets to equate the Palestinian aggressor with the Israeli aggressed. It took only slightly longer for many other media outlets to highlight Israel’s actions while shoving continued Palestinian aggression into the background.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/norway-image-and-reality/2011/08/03/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: