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Will Norway’s new government stem tide of anti-Semitism?

Jeffrey F. Barken/

this month, conservative candidates in Norway won landslide elections, deposing
the Labour party majority that has ruled for nearly a decade. Many are hopeful that
the new government will address social intolerance in Norway, including the
rampant anti-Semitism affecting a population of nearly 2,000 Jews.

But Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, an author who has written extensively on the
prejudices facing Norway’s Jewish community, is skeptical that Norwegians will
be able to forget their prejudices. He uses the phrase “part-time
anti-Semitism” to describe common attitudes and to highlight the general
public’s susceptibility to bias.

its origins, Lutheranism promoted Jew hatred,” Gerstenfeld tells, recalling Norway’s long history
of intolerance. “Norway was the last country in Europe to admit Jews in the
mid-19th century.”

the heart of the new conservative coalition stands Erna Solberg, nicknamed
“Iron Erna.” Elected Sept. 9, she will succeed Jens Stoltenberg and will be
Norway’s second female prime minister.

argues that many discriminatory instincts and old-world anti-Semitic beliefs
about Jews still influence perspectives on the modern Jewish community. He
cites a study commissioned by the Oslo Municipality in 2011 that found that one
third of the Jewish children there are harassed physically or verbally at least
two or three times a month, and that 38 percent of Norwegians believe that
Israel is a Nazi state.

have never heard of such figures before in Western Europe,” Gerstenfeld says.


Click photo to download. Caption: Outgoing Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. Many are hopeful that the
new government in Norway, headed by Erna Solberg, will address social
intolerance in Norway, including the rampant anti-Semitism affecting a
population of nearly 2,000 Jews. Credit: Kjetil Ree via Wikimedia Commons.

Anders Behring Breivik’s infamous 2011 terrorist
attack confirmed the worst regarding intolerance in Norwegian society.
Following the mass shooting at a Worker’s Youth League camp that left 69 people dead, the facility was discovered
to house vicious anti-Semitic and anti-Israel propaganda. Teenagers
participating in the program prior to the attack were routinely subjected to an
indoctrinating hate campaign.

reporting on Israel has created a poisoned atmosphere in which outrageous
political cartoons depicting Jews as Nazis circulate, and boycotts of Israel
are common. “It is widely known that the Norwegian media has been heavily
subsidized by the Labour government,” Norwegian author Hanne Nabintu Herland

also confirms the failure of the ousted Labour government to confront the
problem of the anti-Semitic indoctrination of youths. “Nothing has been done to
de-radicalize the Labour party’s youth groups in the aftermath of Breivik,” she
says. “Here in Norway, no one has reacted much to that. As far as I know, only
one Norwegian, a prominent, internationally acclaimed ship owner and
billionaire, Dan Odfjell, wrote an article where he spoke about …read more

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Posted by on September 23, 2013. Filed under Jewish News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.