Icelandic musician Páll Óskar Hjálmtýsson, who leads an effort to have Iceland withdraw from the Eurovision song contest this year if it is held in Israel, on Wednesday made some “decidedly anti-Semitic remarks” on his country’s national broadcasting radio Rás 1, including this pearl: “The tragedy is that Jews learned nothing from the Holocaust. Instead, they have taken up the exact same policy of their worst enemy.”
According to the Reykjavik Grapevine, thousands of Icelanders support boycotting Eurovision if it takes place in Israel, because support for Eurovision is “tacit support for the Israeli government’s policies regarding the Palestinian people.”
Páll Óskar (“Hjálmtýsson” is a patronymic (it means “son of Hjálmtýr”) and not his family name; he is addressed by his first names, “Páll Óskar”) has probably been the most vocal supporter of the boycott. Except that when he spoke to Rás 1, a little bit of Nazi shone through, when he offered his historical view that “the reason why the rest of Europe has been virtually silent is that Jews have woven themselves into the fabric of Europe in a very sly way for a very long time. It is not at all hip and cool to be pro-Palestine in Britain.”
The rest of Iceland was not amused, and local media became filled with sharp criticism from many Icelanders, to the point that, only a few hours later, Páll Óskar posted an apology and a retraction:
“I admit unreservedly that I put the Israeli government, the Israeli military and the Jewish people under the same hat,” he wrote. “I made judgements and generalizations about Jewish people. … I take full responsibility for these words, take back my remarks about Jewish people, they are wrong and hurtful. I will take responsibility in actions, from this point forward, and will never again speak ill of the Jewish people, wherever in the world they may live.”
He also confessed, “My generalizations, which mixed up Jewish people with Zionist policies, sparked a strong response which I willingly take responsibility for.”
Well, the Jewish people are grateful, even though every last one of us cannot, as hard as we try, pronounce “Hjálmtýsson.” It goes “He-alm-tyssen” (we asked Google Translate to enunciate for us, which, come to think of it, makes it Google Enunciate).
So, now that we’ve finally been told that we’ve gotten the Holocaust thing all wrong, it’s time we stopped weaving ourselves into the fabric of Europe in our very sly ways, and came home – where as soon as anyone attempts to hurt us, we share with them a healthy dose of Holocaust lessons.