Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel, and the Jews by Manfred Gerstenfeld

From Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel, and the Jews , 2008


The Nordic countries rarely draw international attention. The five nations discussed in this book cover a large geographic area yet have a combined population of only about twenty-five million. Sweden is the largest with 9.2 million inhabitants. The two other Scandinavian countries, Denmark and Norway, have populations of 5.5 million and 4.6 million, respectively. Finland has 5.2 million inhabitants and Iceland 0.3 million.

Scandinavians comprehend each other’s languages with more or less effort. Outside these three countries, the languages are understood by few people. Finnish is far less accessible.

These five countries are seen as a bulwark of democracy.  They have constructed peaceful images with advanced welfare policies and major concern for human rights. On the Global Peace Index, for instance, Norway is ranked first, Denmark third, Finland sixth, and Sweden seventh among 121 nations.1 These countries usually also rank high on other indices. According to Reporters without Borders, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway are equal among the eight nations having the greatest press freedom. Sweden is between eleventh and fourteenth.2

However, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s latest report on the investigation of Nazi war criminals yields a different picture. Both Norway and Sweden can be found in the F1 category—one of the worst—together with Syria. This category comprises “those countries which refuse in principle to investigate, let alone prosecute, suspected Nazi war criminals because of legal (statute of limitation) or ideological restrictions.”3

International knowledge about these nations is superficial. When university students who have never visited these countries are asked to write down all they know about them, only very few will reach a hundred words. In such experiments done by this author with North Americans about Norway, several of them could only come up with a sentence or two, which then often turned out to refer to Sweden or Denmark. Once I told this to a group of well-educated Americans who laughed. Then one of them said: “Hans Christian Andersen—was he Swedish?” No one reacted, so I had to say, “No, he was Danish.”

These countries are rarely mentioned internationally and, if so, it is often in a positive context. This is the more so as few foreign journalists are based there. To the visiting tourist their populations frequently come across as polite, helpful, and soft-spoken.

Darker Attitudes

Behind this appearance and the often proclaimed concern for human rights lurk darker attitudes. This book deals mainly with lifting these countries’ humanitarian mask as far as Israel and Jews are concerned.

To avoid misunderstanding: these nations have also supported many initiatives that are positive for Jews and/or Israel in recent decades. Some examples should be mentioned in particular. A major one by Sweden was the international promotion of Holocaust education. Its Social Democratic prime minister Göran Persson launched this important process with a conference in Stockholm at the beginning of 2000.

Norway received positive publicity when it became the first county to make payments to Holocaust survivors when the restitution process was renewed at the end of the twentieth century. The country’s ambivalent behavior during the process that preceded the decision on the payments, however, is barely known.

Yet anti-Semitism and in particular its more recent mutation, anti-Israelism— used here interchangeably with anti-Zionism—are widespread in these countries. In Norway and Sweden, anti-Israeli initiatives have been taken that are extreme even in a European context.

This cannot be disconnected from the fact that anti-Semitism is a deep- rooted, integral part of European culture and has been promoted systematically and intensely over many centuries, initially by large parts of Christianity and since the nineteenth century by nationalist movements. The infrastructure of this profound, irrational hate has thus existed, in varying guises, for much of Western history.

A Broad and Deep Base

Lutheranism is the dominant Christian denomination in these countries. Its founder Martin Luther was among the most rabid Christian anti-Semites in European history. Several decades after the Holocaust, many Lutheran churches publicly denounced his anti-Semitic legacy and many Lutherans strongly oppose such attitudes. One wonders, however, whether for others the ancient hatred has mutated into anti-Israeli feelings. There are several significant examples of profound anti-Israeli bias among Scandinavian church leaders. Yet some observers of the Nordic scene think several leaders of the greatly weakened churches have joined the anti-Israeli bandwagon mainly because of its popularity.

The current anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism have been added to a long- existing, broad, and deep base of anti-Jewish stereotypes. These prejudices have facilitated the considerable reemergence of these attitudes despite the impact of the mass murder of the Jews in the Holocaust. That is also why positive developments toward Jews and Israel in these countries do not compensate for the frequent expressions of anti-Israelism.

It now increasingly seems that the Holocaust’s impact on European democracies may largely have been a temporary phenomenon. Its taboos are increasingly being broken. Likewise, the damage done by the discrimination and biased actions against Israel and often collaterally against the Jews by parts of the Western elites and some governments far exceeds the beneficial actions.

Significant Place in Post-Holocaust Anti-Semitism

A variety of negative events concerning Israel and Jews over the past decades, particularly in Sweden and Norway, merit international attention. These include discriminatory policies toward Israel as well as acts of physical and verbal anti- Semitism. Many of the latter, but far from all, are committed by local Muslims. Other problem areas concern various post-Holocaust issues. The key matters involved, however, somewhat differ from country to country.

Despite their positive overall images and small population, both Sweden and Norway have a significant place in any systematic overview of major anti- Semitism in Western Europe since World War II. This does not only concern anti- Zionism, the newest variety of this millennia-old hatred. This is much less so for Denmark and Finland.

The stereotypes of the long-existing religious and ethnonational varieties of anti-Semitism are also substantially present in these countries. In recent decades they have been reactivated and adapted to the currently prevailing Zeitgeist. The anti-Semitic core motif is that the Jew is the absolute evil. The submotifs include Jewish vengefulness, the myth of Jewish power accompanied by conspiracy theories, supposed control of the media, as well as the main ancient Christian theme that Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus.4 Mutations of all these accusations are manifest in the current Nordic discourse on Israel.

Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism

Per Ahlmark, a former Swedish deputy prime minister and then leader of the Liberal Party, was one of the first non-Jewish politicians in Europe to publicly state that anti-Zionism is largely comparable to anti-Semitism. At Yad Vashem’s International Conference on the Legacy of Holocaust Survivors in April 2002, he observed:

Criticism of Israel has become very similar to anti-Semitism. There exists in it a rejection of the Jewish people’s right to express its identity in its state; and Israel isn’t judged according to the same criteria that are applied to other countries. If anti-Semites once aspired to live in a world rid of Jews, today anti-Semitism’s goal is apparently a world cleansed of the Jewish state.5

Two years later, again speaking at Yad Vashem, Ahlmark was even more explicit:

anti-Zionism today has become very similar to anti-Semitism. Anti-Zionists accept the right of other peoples to have national feelings and a defensible state. But they reject the right of the Jewish people to have its national consciousness expressed in the State of Israel and to make that state secure. Thus, they are not judging Israel by the values and norms used to judge other countries. Such discrimination against Jews is called anti-Semitism.

Anti-Zionists question the very existence of Israel. This means that Israel should disappear in one way or the other; that millions of Israeli Jews have to be fought and probably killed. Deliberately suggesting mass murder of Jews—openly, disguised or in vague formulas—has always been the most extreme form of anti-Semitism. Anti-Zionists, who advocate the destruction of the Jewish state, should be put in a similar category.6

It should not come as a surprise that Ahlmark understood how similar anti- Zionism and anti-Semitism are.7 Members of the Swedish Social Democratic governments—in power for most of the last century—have been among the pioneers of extreme demonization of Israel in the Western world.

In 2003, Irene Levin, a professor of social work at Oslo University College observed on the situation in Norway:

In the more distant past, the Jews were portrayed in the media as greedy and overly interested in money. This has been replaced by their portrayal as aggressors; however, the consequences are the same. Anti-Semitism is about scapegoating. The way to fight this is through showing the diversity and complexity of the situations. The Norwegian media, however, refuse to do this.8

The EUMC Working Definition of Anti-Semitism

Before discussing anti-Semitic phenomena in the Nordic countries, it is worth more clearly characterizing anti-Semitism. This can best be done by analyzing such phenomena in terms of the most common definition of anti-Semitism, as formulated at the request of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), which has since become the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (EUAFR). This definition is now frequently used to assess whether texts or speeches are anti-Semitic. It was recommended for use, for instance, by the British All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism.9

This definition states: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” The document notes that: “such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.”

It goes on to say:

This document refers not only to matters such as calling for or justifying the killing of Jews, dehumanizing and demonizing them, accusing them of imagined wrongdoing, denying the Holocaust, and charging Jews with being like Nazis, but also with denying Jews the right to self-determination and applying double standards by requiring behavior of Israel that is not expected of any other democratic country.10

Many of the Nordic discriminatory acts or proposals against Israel and the Jews—as discussed in this book—are expressions of such double standards. They constitute anti-Semitic behavior according to the EUMC definition.

Negative attitudes, based on false morality, that Nordic elites frequently express concerning Israel appear elsewhere in Europe as well. German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a socialist, referred to this phenomenon: “A new form of anti-Semitism increasingly cloaked by expressions of moral superiority and anti-Israel statements is unacceptable and will not be allowed to permeate German society.” Steinmeier said he was more concerned by this new form of anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli remarks than by the “‘depressing’ persistence of the traditional form of anti-Semitism both in Europe generally and in Germany.” He added: “We will not tolerate anti-Semitism in any shape or form, even in some obscure guise.”11

Humanitarian Racism

The attitudes of substantial sections of the Nordic elites are imbued with what might be called humanitarian racism. Several of their human rights organizations, as well, are riddled with such racists. A humanitarian racist is best defined as someone who attributes intrinsically reduced responsibility for their acts to people of certain ethnic or national groups.

This racism is a mirror image of the white-supremacist variety. Humanitarian racists consider—usually without saying so explicitly—that only white people can be fully responsible for their actions; nonwhites such as the Palestinians cannot (or can but only to a limited extent). Therefore, most misdeeds by nonwhites— who by definition are “victims”—are not their fault but those of whites, who can be held accountable. One of the many consequences of this distorted attitude is that nonwhites are falsely perceived as passive victims, never acting, only acted upon or reacting.

As humanitarian racism has hardly been investigated, the many ramifications of this discriminatory attitude are also ignored. One of these is that by considering certain people unable to be fully responsible for their actions by nature, one implicitly degrades them to a subhuman status and ascribes to them characteristics found in animals. They cannot be held responsible because they cannot overcome their urges and are not expected to have rationality or morality.

One among many resulting distortions of humanitarian racism is the confusion of criminals and victims. Another is an inversion of perpetrator and victim. These scantly studied phenomena are related to other false beliefs such as that the problems caused by certain hooligans among non-Western immigrants in European societies are solely the result of socioeconomic factors. Very often criminal inclinations and antiwhite racist ideology are also at play. This, for instance, was the case during the fall 2005 riots in France.12

Ignoring minority racism is yet anothercollateral phenomenon of humanitarian racism. As the former Dutch parliamentarian of Somalian origin, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, put it:

I studied social work for a year in the Netherlands. Our teachers taught us to look with different eyes toward the immigrant and the foreigner. They thought racism was a phenomenon that only appears among whites. My family in Somalia, however, educated me as a racist and told me that we Muslims were very superior to the Christian Kenyans. My mother thinks they are half-monkeys.13

The idea that racism only occurs among whites is far from limited to the Netherlands. Jews in the Scandinavian countries have often found out otherwise. Local Muslims have been involved in extreme hate propaganda and in some of the most severe anti-Semitic incidents in numbers disproportionate to their percentage of the population.14

The Three Varieties of Anti-Semitism

The three major varieties of anti-Semitism—meaning religious anti-Semitism, ethnic anti-Semitism, and  anti-Israelism—have common  stages,  namely, demonization, exclusion, and expulsion or destruction of Jews. In these processes Sweden and Norway in particular, in recent years, have played a very negative role among Western democracies. Some examples of the pioneering impacts of Jew-hatred emanating from these countries are:

  • The late Olof Palme, an internationally known Social Democratic prime minister of Sweden, was among the first European leaders to accuse Israelis of being like He will go down in history as one of the first Western Holocaust inverters at government level.15
  • In 2003, Archbishop Karl Hammar, then heading the Swedish Lutheran Church, was among the first Western Protestant leaders to call for a boycott of goods from the disputed territories (West Bank and Gaza Strip), which he called “occupied” ones.16
  • In summer 2006, a synagogue service had to be moved from the Malmö (Sweden) synagogue elsewhere for security This was a rare event in postwar Europe.17
  • Some caricatures in mainstream Norwegian newspapers over the past decades are interchangeable with those of the worst Nazi 18
  • A 2006 article in Norway’s leading conservative daily Aftenposten by the well-known writer Jostein Gaarder will have a prominent place in any anthology of recent anti-Semitic texts in 19
  • Kristin Halvorsen, leader of the Norwegian Socialist Left Party and finance minister, supported a consumer boycott of Israel in January 20She was probably the first Western government minister to do so.
  • Calls for boycotts of Israel by Norwegian and Danish trade unions in 2002 were among the first by such organizations in the Western 21
  • The decision in 2005 by the Sør Trøndelag region in Norway to boycott Israel was probably the first such instance in the Western 22That it was abandoned after pressure from the Norwegian foreign minister, who claimed it was illegal, does not change its highly discriminatory character.23
  • When the Hamas government was boycotted by the European Union, this terrorist organization’s representatives were given visas to Norway and 24This was particularly reprehensible as, under the Schengen Agreement, these visas made visits to other EU countries possible as well. Norway was the first Western government to recognize the short-lived Hamas- Fatah unity government of which the Hamas faction in its party platform calls for the murder of Jews. Norway’s Deputy Foreign Minister Raymond Johansen was the first high-ranking Western official to visit leaders of the Hamas movement including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.25
  • Government-financed Scandinavian and  Finnish  NGOs  provide  funds to Palestinian NGOs that besides development work also promote the demonization of 26

The 2006 Second Lebanon War

Developments during the 2006 Second Lebanon War provided an important litmus test for anti-Semitism in the Nordic countries. Often in times  of Middle Eastern tensions when Israel is portrayed particularly negatively by Western media, manifestations of anti-Semitism increase rapidly. In Norway, where members of the government and substantial segments of the elites demonstrate understanding for Palestinian terrorism—and thus try to whitewash, play down, or even exculpate it—attacks against the Jews were by far the strongest.27

Jews, including Jewish leadership, and certainly non-Jews abroad, are hardly familiar with these countries’ attitudes toward Israel and the Jews. The anti-Israeli members of their elites keep up a humanitarian mask behind which they hide the greatly divergent standards by which they measure Israelis and Palestinians.

One example of the aforementioned humanitarian racism occurred in spring 2007 when Hamas “extremists” and Fatah “moderates” cruelly murdered each other and civilian bystanders in Gaza. Many humanitarian racists in the Western world assigned the blame, either fully or partially, to Israel and the United States.

During the Second Lebanon War another phenomenon strongly came to light, detailed analysis of which cannot be carried out in this framework. Many on the European Left—including several key members of socialist parties—showed greater affinity with Hizballah terrorists who have genocidal intentions than with the democratic Israeli state. Others take “evenhanded” positions between genocide promoters and democrats.

The problem is also one of a mixture of arrogance and ignorance. Norwegian foreign minister Jonas Gahr Støre was one of those who called Israel’s military strikes against Lebanon totally unacceptable. According to Aftenposten, he said Israel was “on the verge of lashing out at Lebanon’s civilian population to retaliate for the abductions.” He also said Israel did not understand that Lebanon was not behind the abduction of the Israeli soldiers.28

The logical consequence of Støre’s words is  that  Israel  should  never react unless there is no collateral damage on the Lebanese side. This is telling a democratic country that it should do very little to protect its citizens. It thus also means supporting terrorism. Støre’s statement was a typical example of the arrogance of a politician of a small country.

It is doubtful that Norway, if it had had to deal with only part of the problems Israel has overcome in the past decades, could have survived as a democracy. One is usually challenged to bring some proof for this thesis.

Here, then, is food for thought. Oslo, with 90 reported crimes per 1,000 persons over the past year, has four times as much criminal activity as New York.29 A report by Justice Minister Knut Storberget stated that over 99 percent of all serious robberies on the streets of Oslo were never solved.30 How would a country that cannot solve even 1 percent of robberies ever withstand the waves of terrorism and suicide attacks Israel has had to cope with?

Admittedly the problem is of a greater nature than only the small Nordic nations. Jeffrey Gedmin, who in 2007 became president of Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, noted in analyzing the hypocrisy of European condemnations of Israel: “One would expect the Europeans to say at least once: ‘This is what we would do. Our proposal is credible for a number of sound reasons. We will support it in the following ways. If you accept it and it fails, we will protect you by taking a number of major actions.’ On that front, however, the Europeans are totally absent.”31 Støre’s attitude is typical in this regard.

Discriminatory Regrets about the Nobel Prize

Similar attitudes manifest themselves in many ways. In 2002, some members of the 1994 Norwegian Nobel Committee that had granted the Nobel Peace Prize to Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Yasser Arafat—Bishop Gunnar Stålsett, Sissel Rønbeck, and former Norwegian prime minister Odvar Nordli—expressed disappointment in Peres. A fourth member, Hanna Kvanmo, said she wished there was a possibility to take back the prize from Peres. She also said Peres was on the verge of being guilty of war crimes.32 Only one member of the committee, Kåre Kristiansen, took a different view in 1994 and resigned from the committee because Arafat got the prize.

Then-Bishop of Oslo Stålsett described as absurd the involvement of a Nobel Laureate, Peres, in human rights abuses. This was a discriminatory remark as he remained silent about Arafat. At the same time the then chairman of the Nobel Committee, Geir Lundestad, “voiced the concern of several members that if Mr. Arafat were to be killed as a result of Israeli actions, one Nobel laureate might in effect be said to have killed the other.”33

The Nobel Committee members did not mention anything about Arafat’s Nobel Prize, despite the fact that he was probably the world’s leading terrorist during the last decades of the previous century and continued to order the murder of Israeli civilians after he had received the prize.

In 2004, ten years after the prize was awarded, the Jerusalem Post published an article noting that the members of the Nobel Committee still stood by their choice of Arafat.34 By that time Israel had made public “a list of the terrorist operatives Arafat financed, and the request for payment from Marwan Barghouti, then head of Fatah in the West Bank. Arafat’s signature is on the page with the amounts paid to the murderers.”35

More Double Standards

In Finland the anti-Israeli phenomena that have been described particularly for Sweden and Norway are far less widespread. Violent anti-Semitic acts have been rare in the new century. Yet anti-Israeli attitudes in the Finnish media are frequent.

The demonization of Israel by parts of the Scandinavian elites—and also others in Europe—cannot be primarily attributed to the return of deep-rooted prewar anti-Semitism. Nor can it just be characterized as “reflecting an identity crisis,” “decadence,” “perversity,” or alternatively as a “pathology,” “cancer,” or “virus” that would be rife mainly in three sectors of European society—the extreme Left and parts of the Social Democratic Left, the extreme Right, and significant parts of the Muslim communities. The phenomena that underlie the racist attitudes of these three segments of Western societies are not identical. Yet they all have, albeit different, ideological contents.

Anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism never operate in isolation. The underlying motivations of the perpetrators sooner or later lead to the targeting of others as well. This, however, is often visible only after they have caused damage to Jews. The problems caused by parts of the Muslim communities to Scandinavian societies have only become evident in recent years. One example is Malmö where some areas populated by minorities have become hotbeds of crime and agitation. Yet, while many perpetrators come from Muslim communities, other Muslims are also victims of this on top of discrimination by autochtonous people.

Although the Swedish and Norwegian Social Democratic parties include a large number of anti-Israelis, such attitudes are also widespread elsewhere. There is hardly a European country whose socialist parties do not include important figures who have frequently promoted anti-Israelism. Among the best known were the late prime ministers Bruno Kreisky of Austria36 and Bettino Craxi of Italy,37 but there are many others.

The problem also occurs from time to time in non-Left mainstream parties. In 2004, Jo Benkow, a former speaker of the Norwegian parliament and former leader of the Conservative Party, who is Jewish, called former Conservative Norwegian prime minister Kåre Willoch also in view of his opinions on Israel “the most biased person participating in the public debate in this country.”38 Former Dutch Christian Democrat prime minister Dries van Agt is another example of a senior, right-of-center, extreme anti-Israeli (former) politician.

Rather than indicating much about Israel, anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism reflect problems in European society. Leading anti-Semitism scholar Robert Wistrich commented, paraphrasing Hamlet: “Something is rotten in the state of Europe. Anti-Semitism is a primary symptom of social pathology. Every society that becomes seriously infected by it is receiving a wakeup call about its social, cultural, and political health.”39

Perspectives on the Perpetrators

Josef Joffe, editor of the German weekly Die Zeit remarked:

The new European dispensation is antipower, antiwar, antiracist—the prise de conscience, as the French call it, of “Never again!” It reflects Europe’s horrible past, with a lot more complicity in the Nazi project than some nations—say, Norway and Sweden, who are among the most anti-Israeli in Europe—are willing to own up to.

It reflects ancient guilt feelings and the unconscious need to project them onto somebody else. Israel makes such a good candidate because it is (a) the source of these guilt feelings and (b) refuses to behave like Sweden or Switzerland, mainly because it does not live in their neighborhood that looks like a permanently pacified Europe.40

American author Bruce Bawer noted an additional factor. Referring to the aforementioned extreme anti-Semitic article by Gaarder, he wrote:

Though Gaarder drew some criticism, he won strong support from leading intellectuals and Norwegians generally. People were still talking about the piece on September 17 when shots were fired at Norway’s only synagogue by four young men who, it emerged, had also plotted to blow up the U.S. and Israeli embassies.

To walk the streets of Oslo today is to recall that this is a city where, within human memory, Jews were rounded up and shipped off to their deaths while their neighbors sat in their kitchens placidly consuming kjøttkaker41 and boiled potatoes. There can be little doubt that Europeans’ still largely suppressed guilt over the Holocaust, and over their enduring, irrational Jew- hatred, are significant factors in Europe’s ongoing self-destruction.42

Sweden43 and Norway are also among the countries that have poor records in dealing with World War II criminals. In Finland the issue of the deliverance of Russian Jewish prisoners of war to the Germans during World War II still needs much clarification.44

Anti-Zionism on the Left

Another factor should not be overlooked. Germany, its allies, and the Nazi ideology were defeated in a long, bloody war in which tens of millions were murdered or died. Communism, if one takes into account not only the Soviet variety but also the Chinese one, killed even more people.

Communism’s defeat, however, resulted from its withering away in the Soviet Union. The West did not have to confront it in a major war. There was thus in the Western world no purge of its adherents similar to that of Hitler’s followers after World War II. This enables the extreme Left until today to enjoy a public image that is far better than that of the discredited extreme Right. Whereas white supremacism is generally and rightly considered despicable and socially unacceptable, the humanitarian-racism mirror phenomenon is rarely viewed similarly.

As the Soviet Union was not defeated on the battlefield and thus completely delegitimized the way Nazism was, part of its ideological legacy still persists. The highest levels of the Soviet Union consciously promoted anti-Zionism as part of expanding the country’s influence in the Third World. It lives on in various ways in the European Left.

More than 250 Swedish academics protested when the Living History Forum, a state agency established by the Social Democrats that had focused on the Holocaust, was tasked by the current government to inform high school pupils about the crimes against humanity perpetrated by communist regimes.

Education Minister Jan Björklund of the Liberal Party reacted by saying the basic assumption that the government should not influence history writing was correct. He added: “but among the signatories I notice several active communists. It is notable that they are reacting only when the remit is expanded to include communist mass murders. Nobody protested as long as it was about Nazis.”45

Muslims and Scandinavia

Recent years have seen shifts in attitudes toward Muslims in Nordic countries. These may have secondary influences on their attitudes toward Israel. Developments concerning Denmark could possibly be a precursor for elsewhere in Europe. The  2006  eruptions in the  Muslim  world  after  the Muhammad cartoons were published in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten gave the country an experience of extensive Arab hatred somewhat similar to the aggressions Israel suffers regularly. Attacks on embassies,  the  country’s  demonization, and boycotts were some of the ways this hatred expressed itself. The Danish population showed greater understanding for Israel in the Second Lebanon War than those in most other EU countries, which may be related to the Danish experience during the cartoon-crisis riots.46

This raises two questions. Will the same happen elsewhere in democracies as knowledge about the significant—though not majority—violent trends in the Islamic world becomes more widespread? Or will this only happen if and when other countries have experiences somewhat similar to those Denmark underwent during the cartoon crisis?

The cartoon riots were a far lesser event than 9/11 and no Danes were killed. Nevertheless, the change in Danish attitudes toward radical Islam and to some extent toward Islam in general has been in a similar direction as in the United States.

In the meantime Norway, whose current government likewise regularly applies double standards to Israel, has also been exposed to some terrorist acts and threats. In January 2008, Foreign Minister Støre narrowly escaped being killed in an Afghani terrorist attack in a Kabul hotel while a Norwegian journalist was murdered and a diplomat wounded. At the end of February, Siv Jensen, leader of the Progress Party, which is the largest opposition party, was visiting the Israeli town of Sderot when rockets aimed at its civilian population fell there. These were fired by Palestinian terrorists probably belonging to the Palestinian Authority’s largest party, Hamas.47

Also in February 2008, the Norwegian embassy in Kabul was evacuated and closed for an indefinite time after terrorist threats. Newspapers reported there had been warnings that the embassy would be attacked by suicide bombers.48

Norway has also been specifically warned by an Iraqi insurgent group, the Front for Reform and Holy War, that it could face terrorist attacks if it extradites a radical Muslim, Mullah Krekar, to Iraq. Krekar has been determined to be a threat to Norway’s national security. He came to Norway seeking asylum in the early 1990s and from time to time has traveled back to northern Iraq so as to lead guerrilla activities. Norway’s Supreme Court has agreed to his expulsion but it cannot be carried out because of a death threat against him in Iraq.49

In February 2008, Jørn Holme, who heads the Norwegian intelligence and security agency PST, confirmed that young Norwegian Muslims are targeted by recruiters to participate in terrorist attacks abroad. He said this goes “beyond extremists’ efforts to gain support for terrorist activity abroad.”50 Later that month three people of Somali origin were arrested and charged with financing terrorist activities overseas.51 This was on the same day that three Swedes also of Somali origin were arrested on similar charges in Stockholm.52

Small Jewish Communities

The Nordic countries’ Jewish communities are very small, altogether numbering about 25,000. The largest community is in Sweden with an estimated 15,000 Jews. There are about 7,400 Jews in Denmark, 1,300 in Norway, and 1,200 in Finland. Iceland has a few Jewish inhabitants but no organized Jewish community.53

This combined Jewish population of about twenty-five thousand would not rank among the thirty largest American Jewish communities. It is about the size of a small Israeli town. Sweden has a number of functioning Jewish communities. In Denmark, Norway, and Finland, the capitals—Copenhagen, Oslo, and Helsinki— account for almost all Jewish life.

The communities are not only small at present; they always have been. They have never greatly influenced any sectors of economic life or society. Such contributions have always been limited to individuals, some of whom became well known in their country.

Jewish communities in countries with a public discourse hostile to Israel are in a problematic position. In addition, up until today the traumas stemming from the Holocaust have not been superseded. Levin remarked that the Jews in Norway very much wanted to be inconspicuous.

“After what had happened they wanted to live in a way that nobody would see the difference between them and other Norwegians. I learned from my parents that I should be a person like everybody else. We Jews should be integrated so that nobody will say anything negative against us, they told me.”54

This pertains not only to individuals. Jewish communities in Europe, particularly but not only small ones, often aim for a low profile.

As the situations in the Nordic countries differ, the four major ones will be addressed individually below. Sweden and Norway, where most of the anti-Israeli actions originated, are the main focus of the analysis.


Social Democrat governments have ruled Sweden for most of the time since Sweden became a true democracy in the 1920s. The premiership of Olof Palme, starting in 1969, gradually led to often hostile policies toward Israel. This was a reversal of the attitude of his predecessor Tage Erlander. Some change took place in fall 2006 when the Center and Conservative parties won the parliamentary elections and formed a government. Yet little has changed as far as the public anti-Israeli discourse is concerned.

Moshe Yegar, a former Israeli ambassador to Stockholm, has analyzed Swedish-Israeli relations in detail. He mentioned a long list of one-sided anti- Israeli statements, starting from Palme’s time in office.

One example  of Swedish double  standards and  demonization  of Israel occurred in 1984 when Deputy Foreign Minister Pierre Schori55 visited Israel and praised Arafat and his “flexible policy.”56 In an article he “claimed that the terrorist acts of the PLO were ‘meaningless,’ while Israel’s retaliatory acts were ‘despicable acts of terrorism.’”57 The following years witnessed many other examples of this demonizing attitude in various gradations.

Although many media criticized Schori’s discriminatory anti-Israeli statements, repetition of this same motif by government officials over the years illustrates the increasingly negative attitudes toward Israel in Sweden.

In November 1988, Foreign Minister Sten Andersson answered a question in parliament and said Israel planned to annex the territories and dispossess or expel the Palestinian population. Twenty years later the demonizing character of Andersson’s statement is even clearer than it was at the time.58 Israel had no such plans. It was the two intifadas that brought with them the steep decline in the Palestinians’ economic position. Their belongings, however, remained intact. At the same time the Palestinian population has been growing.

The demonization of Israel has a strong element of contamination or contagion. Key personalities in a country’s political, cultural, or media elite bring their anti-Zionist defamation into the mainstream. Although initially this may incur major resistance, their ideas eventually spread through society. A critical mass is reached and then their discourse becomes the dominant narrative. A substantial part of anti-Israelism in Europe today derives from such copycatting. In an anti-Israeli atmosphere many people who do not hold strong convictions accept the dominant narrative because doing so is convenient.

There is some indication that this has been the case with former Swedish foreign minister Laila Freivalds. Her predecessor as foreign minister had been the extremely anti-Israeli Anna Lindh. Zvi Mazel, former Israeli ambassador to Sweden, remarks: “When Freivalds became foreign minister she surprisingly said: ‘I am a friend of Israel, though I am also a friend of Palestinians.’ For being a friend of Israel, she was strongly attacked by many Social Democrats. It took her only a few weeks to adopt the party line and imitate Lindh’s statements.”59

More Hostilities

As Ahlmark observed about Palme:

To compare the bombs over the capital of North Vietnam with the gas chambers in Treblinka was thus a false parallel…. It contributed to the trivialization of the Holocaust. If all killing is the same as Hitler’s one conceals what is unique about the Nazi genocide. We should also note that Olof Palme during his time as party chairman twice made statements where he equated countries with Nazi Germany. One of those states was built by the people who were Hitler’s primary victims. The other was the nation that came to decide the victory for the free countries over Nazism in World War II. And both—Israel and the United States—were and are democracies.60

Moshe Erel, Israel’s ambassador to Sweden in the mid-1980s, wrote that Mauno Koivisto, then president of Finland, once replied to a journalist’s question on the difference between Finnish and Swedish foreign policy: “Finland wants to be friendly with everyone; Sweden wants to quarrel with everyone.”61

Erel also mentioned that once, during his term as ambassador, the leader of the Israeli Labor Party happened to be in Sweden on the first of May. Yet, whereas he was not invited to the May 1st parade, Arafat was received with great warmth and marched at its front.62 At that time, it should be noted, the PLO was still officially claiming that its aim was to destroy Israel. When Palme was murdered, the then Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres said he would come to the funeral only on condition that Arafat would not be invited.63 The Swedes accepted his condition. Under Palme’s successors, the demonizing-Israel campaign continued to varying degrees.64

Freivalds’s Visit to Israel

Freivalds was hardly less biased than Lindh. She gave yet another demonstration of Swedish government hypocrisy during her visit to Israel in June 2004. Freivalds first visited Yad Vashem and thereafter heavily criticized Israel in a meeting at the Foreign Ministry. She remained silent, however, on current Swedish anti- Semitism. This approach of paying respect to dead Jews, criticizing Israel, and ignoring or downplaying one’s own country’s major delinquencies toward living Jews is a common European phenomenon.

On the occasion of her visit, four former chairmen of the Jewish community of Stockholm sent a letter to the editor of the Israeli daily Haaretz in which they summarized contemporary Swedish anti-Semitism. They praised Sweden for having received Jews fleeing the Holocaust during World War II, and Prime Minister Persson for initiating the Living History Project.

They then went on to say:

The number of verbal and physical attacks against Jews has increased in Sweden. Youngsters in schools give evidence of how they hide the fact of being Jews, as they are attacked both verbally and physically. Teachers testify that students refuse to participate in classes when Judaism is studied. Survivors report feelings of fear. The police stand passively by when extremists attack pro-Israel and anti-racist manifestations.

The authors added: “Over the last decades, Sweden has become a center of racist and anti-Semitic White Power music, and several anti-Semitic groups have established Swedish websites spreading anti-Semitic propaganda. The Swedish Church has just recently initiated a boycott campaign [against Israel], a reminder of the commercial boycott of Jews in various societies  in  the past.”65

Swedish incitement was sometimes also part of a wider EU framework of anti-Israelism. One example of this occurred on 15 April 2002 when Sweden, Austria, France, Belgium, Spain, and Portugal supported a resolution of the UN Commission on Human Rights that, in the words of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, “endorsed Palestinian terrorism and accused Israel of carrying out ‘mass killings’ in the disputed territories.”66

In 2006, Oded Eran, then the Israeli ambassador to the European Union, cited Sweden and Ireland as the two countries that most frequently raised their voice against Israel.67

Some Improvement in 2006

 On the government level the situation improved when the Center-Conservative coalition headed by Moderate Party leader Fredrik Reinfeldt won the parliamentary elections in September 2006. Thereafter excessive criticism of Israel ceased. Mazel says there are also some friends of Israel among the Social Democrats, but because of the party’s mood they are usually silent and prefer to stay outside the debate about Israel.68

Yet Foreign Minister Carl Bildt of the Moderate Party–a former prime minister—is considered anti-Israeli. An astute politician, he usually chooses his words carefully. In April he said, however, in response to an interviewer’s question on Swedish radio:  “It  is  possible  to  make  peace  without  Hamas the same way it is possible to make peace without Netanyahu on the Israeli side.”

An Israeli Foreign Ministry official told the Jerusalem Post: “It is a horrible and stupid statement that displays complete ignorance about the Middle East.” The official added: “He clearly does not understand the difference between the leader of an Israeli political party and a group that is engaging in the terror that threatens Europe as much as Israel.”69

The Permeation of the Hatred of Israel

The profound hatred of Israel, promoted by Palme, has permeated deeply into segments of the Social Democrat Party. One example from 2008 demonstrated this again. During the spring Ingiberg Olafsson, an ombudsman for the Social Democratic Youth Organization (SSU), branded a parliamentarian a Nazi because of his support for Israel. On his blog Olafsson called Fredrick Federley of the Center Party “a ridiculous little pile of cow dung” and “a Nazi.” He illustrated the post with Federley’s photograph to which he had added a Hitler- style moustache.

Federley was involved in planning celebrations for Israel’s sixtieth anni- versary. Olafsson quoted him as saying: “We are organizing a splendid party for Israel. In this country it’s controversial to support the only democracy in the Middle East.”70

When interviewed Olafsson said: “I think genocide is worse than calling someone a Nazi. With his statement, Federley defends the genocide that actually takes place in Palestine every day.” He added: “The Israeli regime is almost Nazi. I don’t mean in the ideological sense of having read Mein Kampf, but in the sense that they are exterminating people from day to day.” Olafsson is employed at the SSU’s central office in Stockholm, where he is responsible for the organization’s information material.71

An editorial by Per Gudmundson in the daily Svenska Dagbladet criticized Olafsson. He had expected him toapologize but as Olafsson persisted, Gudmundson called the ideological climate at the SSU central office into question.72

Swedish Arrogance

Ahlmark, in 2004, pointed out that there is an element of arrogance in Swedish policies. “As a Swede I have heard this boasting all my life. And as we have not been at war for two centuries, it proves that Sweden is sort of a moral superpower. This type of bragging has now become part of the EU ideology. We are the moral continent. In a way we now experience the Swedenization of European attitudes to other regions.”73

There have been many cases of the great discrepancy between the frequent extremely critical judgments of Israel—based on considerations of pseudo-moral superiority while ignoring Middle Eastern realities—and the Swedes’ own overall performance when having to meet unexpected practical challenges.

For instance, this incompetence was exposed when, in the Southeast Asian tsunami disaster of December 2004, 543 Swedes were killed and many others were injured in Thailand. The Swedish Social Democratic government was very slow in providing assistance to its citizens in need. A 2007 report by the defense research institute FOI found that it took more than twenty-four hours until Prime Minister Persson was made aware of the situation. The initial Swedish reaction was to treat the tsunami as a matter for Swedish foreign aid officials, who focused on Sri Lanka. FOI concluded that the failings in crisis management were greatest at the highest level of government.74

In the same disaster Israel performed far better. Extrapolating, presumably if Sweden were ever to confront practical challenges of the magnitude and frequency Israel is facing, its performance would fall far short of Israel’s.

Subsequently, Freivalds’s own failures elsewhere further highlighted her bias in judging Israel harshly in difficult situations. Freivalds, as a minister, was not only unable to deal adequately with the Swedish victims of the tsunami. Later she had to resign after falsely denying knowledge of her ministry’s attempt to silence a Swedish website that had shown the Muhammad cartoons.

Erel wrote that during his stay he gained the impression that the Swedish left-wing parties had emulated certain attitudes of the communist countries. For example, he mentioned the stifling of discussions in branches of the Social Democratic Party and organized outbursts of protest that came from the top. Erel added that, in the years of his diplomatic service, he had never seen similar events in other democratic countries.75

There are also more recent indications that if Sweden had to meet challenges similar to those of Israel it would have substantial problems. In May 2008, Swedish Armed Forces commander Håkan Syrén presented a plan for downsizing military expenditure at the request of the government. He observed on that occasion: “The Armed Forces are being forced to lower their ambitions when it comes to their ability to repel extensive military operations which threaten Sweden.” He warned that if security conditions were to deteriorate the country would not have the protection it needed.76

But also on smaller matters, even in the human rights field where Sweden is so proud of its performance, the country seems to fall rather short. For instance, in May 2008 the United Nations Committee against Torture criticized Sweden. During a peacekeeping mission in Congo its military “had waited four years before looking into allegations that Swedish troops had remained passive while a Congolese militia member was tortured by French troops.” The committee said they should have launched an immediate probe.77

A Rarely Heard Opinion

Around Israel’s sixtieth birthday in spring 2008, journalist Thomas Gür expressed in Svenska Dagbladet an opinion rarely heard in Sweden:

It is obvious that Israel does not in all regards live up to the ideal image of how a democratic and open society should act. At the same time, we have no idea how any other democratic and open society would have developed and acted in the same situation as the one that Israel has found itself in since its establishment….

One can make an intellectual experiment about what Swedish society would look like if for the past 60 years we had been more or less continuously threatened and sometimes directly attacked by the neighboring countries— often in coalitions—with the goal to abrogate the existence of the Swedish state. Neighbors would also, in between the attacks, have encouraged acts of terror on Swedish soil and also trained and provided for these terrorists. How tolerant, open and free would Sweden as a country have been under such circumstances?

What is noteworthy about Israel is not its flaws, for which it deserves to be criticized, but that despite everything it has managed to keep its character of a democratic state and an open society through six decades. 78

The Media

Significant parts of the Swedish elites hold anti-Israeli positions. Mazel details the attitudes of various newspapers toward Israel.79 Ahlmark noted that in 1968 not more than 3 percent of Swedish journalists sympathized with the Communist Party. This figure was identical to the percentage of votes the party obtained in that year’s parliamentary election. By 1989, however, the number of pro-Communist journalists had increased to about 30 percent, whereas not more than 4-5 percent of the voters favored the party.80

The Swedish radio cited research showing that by 2006, 23 percent of Swedish journalists supported the Green Party and 14 percent the Left Party, which had replaced the Communist Party. These, again, are far larger percentages than among the general population. The largest group of journalists backed the Social Democrats.81

Swedish anti-Semitism expert Henrik Bachner quoted a report in the Swedish liberal daily Dagens Nyheter finding “that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during the years 1996-98 as a subject not only represented 23.5 percent of all articles dealing with international conflicts in that paper’s cultural section, Israel was also ‘the largest country in the world measured by the level of indignation.’ Seventy- seven percent of all articles published on Israel were negative.”

He added: “It is not unlikely that we would find a similar pattern in much of the Swedish media, nor that the percentage of articles dealing with or criticizing Israel would have risen since 2000.”82

Erel had already noted in the early 1980s the biased attitude of the Swedish media. He attributed this to the anti-Israeli campaign during the 1982 Lebanon War and the encouragement the Swedish government had given to it at the time.

Erel wrote:

One of the big papers sent a journalist to Israel for a short stay. He was a communist and was hostile to Israel. He systematically interviewed, one after the other, Arabs and Jews who were strongly opposed to every political position and act of the Israeli government. Whatever he published was gross and damaging. He could damage Israel’s image as he wished and he exploited this to the fullest.

Erel told how he talked to the editor of the paper who brushed off his remark that the articles by the communist journalist constituted propaganda.83

In 2005, Bachner and Lars M. Andersson accused Ordfront, a Swedish left- wing magazine, of anti-Semitic inclinations. The author of one article in the magazine called the God of the Jewish Bible a “psychotic murderer, racist and full-blooded Nazi.” He said “he could have been Hitler’s teacher.” The author pleaded for Christianity to reject the Old Testament.

Another Ordfront article in 2002 suggested that: “Maybe it is time to stop traveling to Auschwitz with Swedish students so as to teach them about the consequences of racism and ethnic cleansing. Maybe we should invite them to a Christmas tour of Bethlehem instead, so they can have a look at what the grandchildren of the Auschwitz victims in their turn do when they spend time on ethnic cleansing!”84


A particularly problematic subject concerns the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). In a February 2006 assessment of this organization, NGO Monitor wrote that SIDA’s

overall goal is “to contribute to making it possible for poor people to improve their living conditions.” In the West Bank and Gaza, SIDA’s aim is: “to promote peace and the development of a democratic Palestinian state by mitigating the effects of the ongoing conflict, promoting the peace talks, facilitating democratic, economic and social development.”85

However, significant funding is channeled through Diakonia—a Christian development organization—and highly politicized NGOs such as Al-Haq, the Palestinian Solidarity Association of Sweden (PGS), the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights (PICCR), and ICJ-Sweden. Their activities and publications abuse human rights rhetoric to delegitimize Israel, and as a result, undermine efforts toward a peaceful end to the conflict.86

Gerald Steinberg’s article on SIDA in this volume analyzes the agency’s biased attitude in more detail. It illustrates how SIDA contributes funds to bodies having a political agenda that includes demonizing Israel. Steinberg adds that SIDA’s own statements also fuel the political conflict.

Not related to the Palestinians, the Swedish public auditors found evidence of irregularities while investigating fifteen SIDA-financed projects in Africa. In three out of four projects there were insufficient records to evaluate what kind of work had been done. A representative of the national audit office said SIDA’s internal checks were inadequate and measures to prevent irregularities were “almost non-existent.” The agency’s own auditors did not detect the irregularities either.87

The State Church

The official Lutheran State Church is another source of anti-Israeli attitudes. In 2004, the so-called HOPP-kampanjen (Hope Campaign) was launched by a number of Swedish churches, including the Church of Sweden. Its goal was to end violence in general and the Israeli “occupation” through pressure on Israel, especially financially via a boycott. Then-Archbishop Hammar was a vocal supporter of the campaign.88

The campaign met with criticism both from external sources and from within the churches that were supposed to carry it out. For instance, the well-known television personality Siewert Öholm criticized it in the Christian paper Dagen.89 Kyrkomötet, the highest decision-making council of the Church of Sweden, was asked by council members Joakim Svensson and Eva Nyman to drop out of the campaign but rejected the request.90

The Lutheran Church operates the Swedish Theological Institute in Jerusalem.

Its former matron Margalit Israeli related:

The institute was founded in 1951. It taught about Judaism and the Jewish roots of Christianity and became an official part of the education of Lutheran priests for the Swedish State Church. Students visited for six months as part of obtaining a university degree. Over the years a gradual erosion toward a strong pro-Palestinian position took place. This came to a watershed when in 2001 a new executive director at the headquarters in Uppsala took over and started restructuring the institute’s goals.

Today Judaism and the Shoah are still part of the courses. However, Israel is almost exclusively presented in the courses by the most extreme fringes of Israeli society, who are pro-Palestinian. The institute has  a highly biased curriculum and spoonfeeds  Palestinian propaganda  to its students. People who come there from all over the world cannot make up their own mind as the institute does not put all the facts about Israel honestly on the table.91

Diakonia’s Role Play

In 2007, Diakonia launched a campaign focusing on the Middle East conflict. It presented Israel as the source of Palestinian suffering, ignoring violence emanating from the Palestinian Authority and society. Swedish European Parliamentarian Gunnar Hökmark exposed this in a newspaper article. He wrote that part of the campaign was a role-playing game, probably for children of churches. Hökmark noted that some of them had to play Muslims and others Israelis, characterized as Jews by wearing a Star of David, and observed: “The placing of Stars of David on Jews, albeit only in role play, still passes all boundaries of decency.”

He added:

Pieces of bread are supposed to be handed out to the Jews, but not to the Palestinians. The Jews are supposed to be given a glass of water, but among the Palestinians only a pitcher of water should be placed on the floor, which they are not allowed to touch. By whom, one might ask. The Jews? At one stage the participants who play the roles of Jews are urged to look “angrily” at the participants who play the roles of Palestinians. It is as if Diakonia wants to foster anti-Semitism.

Hökmark also noted that the role play barely mentioned  Palestinian terror attacks and not at all the genocidal aims of Hamas and Hizballah. He concluded: “Diakonia claims that in the campaign they take ‘the side of the human beings,’ a sneaky formulation that, whether Diakonia realizes it or not, connects to the anti- Semitic propaganda that claims Jews are not human beings.”92

This campaign represents a contemporary way of demonizing Israel. To illustrate how religious demonization of the Jews mutates through the centuries— reflecting the mood of the times—note that Martin Luther wrote: “What should we Christians do with this cursed and rejected race of the Jews? They live among us and we know that they lie, slander, and curse. We cannot support them if we do not want to share in their lies, curses, and slander. We must, full of prayer and respectful religiosity, exercise a merciful severity.”

Luther recommended: “In the first place the synagogue should be burned and what doesn’t burn must be covered with mud. This must be done in honor of God and Christianity so that God can see that we are Christians and we do not just have patience or approve that his Son and Christians will be publicly subjected to lies, curses, and slander.”

Luther went on to say that the Jews’ houses must be broken down and destroyed, after which they should be domiciled in stalls. He also asserted that their books should be confiscated and their rabbis forbidden to give lessons on punishment of death. He further suggested that Jews should not be allowed to move freely and should stay at home.93


Another body involved in anti-Israeli propaganda is Broderskap (Brotherhood), the Christian association within the Swedish Social Democratic Party on whose board it is represented. One example of the way it distorts facts was a speech given by Broderskap president Peter Weiderud at a 2008 demonstration for the people of Gaza.

He called on Israel “to let the Palestinians have back the land that was occupied more than forty years ago.” It is likely that few of the demonstrators knew that the Palestinian territories are disputed areas. There was never a Palestinian state previously and if Israel is an occupier, then the territories have been occupied far longer because before that they were ruled by the Jordanian “occupier.” Before that they were under the control of the British and the Ottoman Turkish Empire. At the time Weiderud spoke there were no Israeli troops in Gaza, so even from that point of view it was false to call Israel an occupier.

Weiderud also said that “the violence affects the two sides in different ways. The Arab-Israeli conflict is not one between equal parties.” Implicit in these words is that, since Israel has an army, it should show more understanding for attacks by Palestinians. Extrapolating his double standards against Israel, the West should show understanding toward Islamist terrorists for the same reason.

Weiderud urged the Swedish government to act “through cooperation with the Palestinians both in the West Bank and Gaza, supporting Palestinian unity and possibilities for a new unity government; through renewal of all aid to the Palestinian people.”94

One should recall here that the dominant political force in the Palestinian territories is Hamas, a movement that in Article 7 of its charter lays the ideological groundwork for the murder of all Jews: “Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: ‘The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!’”95

A Pro-Israeli Employee Demoted

Anti-Israeli bias in Swedish institutions sometimes manifests itself in incidents. A Haaretz story noted that Lennart Eriksson, a manager of the Swedish Migration Board, had been demoted in September 2007 because he had a private pro-Israeli website. In response to queries by Swedish papers, the Migration Board had confirmed that Eriksson had to leave his job because of the opinions he expressed on his site.

Eriksson, who is not Jewish, considered this political persecution as his site did not contain hateful ideas. The Migration Board had told Swedish media that Eriksson’s “transfer” was because of opinions expressed on his site. Eriksson responded that one of his former colleagues in the position from which he had been removed was a pro-Palestinian activist, against whom no measures were taken.96

Ilya Meyer, vice-chair of the Sweden-Israel Friendship Society, commented on the Eriksson case: “If someone from another country had suffered the treatment to which Eriksson has been subjected, the victim would be granted political asylum in Sweden on the grounds of political persecution.”97

An Anti-Jewish Tradition

Bachner pointed out that Swedish anti-Semitism goes back to the Middle Ages and was not very different ideologically from the Christian anti-Jewish tradition that was prevalent at the time. He mentioned that, according to studies, until World War II the traditional religious and secular anti-Jewish prejudices remained an integral part of Swedish culture: “The negative perceptions of the Jews have also influenced the popular attitude as well as the restrictive policies of the government toward Jewish refugees who fled Nazi Germany in the ’30s.”98

Bachner added that, while the Holocaust led to a decline in anti-Semitism, it reemerged in extreme left-wing anti-Zionism in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Subsequently it also became part of the mainstream. During the 1982 Lebanon War, many ancient anti-Semitic motifs resurfaced.

Bachner also observed that despite Sweden being one of the most secular countries in Europe, the anti-Israeli mood during the 1982 war raised anti-Semitic motifs that were fostered by Christianity. One was that the vengeful spirit of the Old Testament characterized Israeli behavior. Moreover, there was a return of the myth of Jewish dominance of world finance, politics, and the media, as well as conspiracy theories. Also Holocaust inversion—claiming that Jews behave like Nazis—made its entry.99

Parts of local Muslim communities are another important source of anti- Semitism in Sweden. On 18 April 2002, “a group of pro-Palestinian protesters attacked a group of demonstrators  against  anti-Semitism  and  Islamophobia that had been organized by the Organization of Young Liberals (LUF). Several participants in the antiracist  manifestation, some of whom were Holocaust survivors, were attacked and one could hear shouts of ‘Jewish pigs.’”100

Radio Islam, operated by the Moroccan-born Ahmed Rami, has been one of the most hateful anti-Semitic sources in Europe. Having been outlawed, it now broadcasts via the Internet.

The Second Lebanon War

A European Jewish Congress (EJC) report notes that on 24 July 2006, during the Second Lebanon War, a large demonstration was held in Malmö that included members of the Left Party. Calls were heard such as: “Allemhom Alrashhash: Teach them to use automatic weapons. Allemhom Qatl Al Yahud: Teach them to kill Jews. Shabon Wahed Lan Yamout: A united people that won’t die. Qattel, Qattel Tel Abib: Take the war, take the war to Tel Aviv.”101

At a demonstration in Stockholm, arranged by the Green Party and the youth organization of the Social Democrats among others, “the leader of the Left Party, Lars Ohly, declared that he thought the war was a genocide. Also at the demonstration, Ehud Olmert and Israel were declared synonymous with Hitler and Nazi Germany, and the Star of David synonymous with the Swastika.

Among the chants heard at this march were ‘Dear, dear Nasrallah—bomb Tel Aviv.’”102

Dror Feiler, an extreme-Left Israeli living in Sweden, was also among the speakers. He claimed that “what is now happening to the Lebanese and Palestinians is comparable to the extermination of the Jews during the Second World War.” Yet another speaker was Helén Benouda of the Swedish Muslim Council, one of the main Muslim organizations in Sweden.103

At a demonstration in Malmö, a poster featured a Star of David shown as equivalent to a swastika. The case was investigated as to whether it was punishable under Swedish law on “harassment against a population group.” It was, however, dismissed as not being against the law.104

The EJC report also noted that no Swedish government members officially supported Israel’s campaign. On the other hand, “Foreign Minister Jan Eliasson, stated in a number of articles that he was afraid that the actions taken by Israel would lead to a radicalization of the counterpart [i.e., Hizballah].” This was yet another illustration of the distorted attitude prevalent among Swedish Social Democrats toward democracies and terrorism.

Although most anti-Israeli demonstrations during the war were by left- wing activists, neo-Nazis also demonstrated in Göteborg on 22 July. A service scheduled to be held in the Malmö synagogue during the war was relocated for security reasons. This is one of the rare occasions in which such a move was necessary in postwar Europe.105

Holocaust Issues

In 1999, Social Democrat Göran Persson became the prime minister of Sweden. Showing his intention to improve relations with Israel, he visited it in one of his first trips abroad. Persson later took a major step by convening an international conference on Holocaust education, dubbed the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust, in January 2000.

This was unexpected even for Prof. Yehuda Bauer, former director of the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem, who had suggested this conference. He said that “Persson’s initiative was due to serious problems of neo-Nazism among youngsters and the influence of Holocaust deniers in Sweden. This endangered the values Sweden wished to represent, those of a cultured social democracy. At the same time, there are Swedish government ministers who do not agree with his attitude.”

Bauer added:

When I had suggested this meeting, I thought there was a one in a million chance of it happening, yet it did and it was successful. The Stockholm conference was important for the Jews, as they need allies in their battle against anti-Semitism. It was the first time in history that politicians, among them many heads of state, met to discuss education. The subject of that unique event was the Holocaust.

Bauer summed up: “Although various national leaders tried to cover up their countries’ pasts, more significant, all these leaders signed the conference’s concluding document.”106

Avi Beker, then secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress, said Persson opted for this universal challenge because of Sweden’s dubious war past: “At the conference, Persson discussed Sweden’s role during the Second World War, which he apologized for, saying he hoped Sweden would take the initiative for Holocaust history to be taught worldwide. If one observes what Sweden teaches, it appears to be very close to what Jews would like to be taught.”107

A few years later, however, the prime minister’s determination had weakened.

Mazel says:

In the following years Persson, however, strayed from the centrality of the Holocaust in various other directions. We had major discussions with Swedish diplomats to keep the 2004 conference on Preventing Genocide from becoming highly politicized, focused on contemporary issues, and anti- Israeli. Also Persson’s speech at that conference was rather ambivalent.108

There are many negative aspects of Sweden’s World War II history. While Nazi Germany was dominating Europe, Sweden collaborated with it. After the war the country became a haven for Nazi war criminals, none of whom was brought to trial.109 Nor did Sweden investigate any Swedish perpetrators even though hundreds of Swedes were SS volunteers. Baltic war criminals found ready refuge in Sweden from 1944 onward, with the knowledge of the Swedish government. However, Swedish archives on these matters remain closed.110 Efraim Zuroff elaborates on several of these issues in an essay in this volume.

The Changed Perception of Raoul Wallenberg

Another war-related issue concerns the changed perception of Raoul Wallenberg into its current one as a Swedish national hero. Beker said:

Sweden itself underwent major soul-searching. We Jews have turned Raoul Wallenberg into a symbol. He is now considered a moral hero of the Second World War to whose memory almost the entire world pays honor. For a long time he did not receive the same acclaim in Sweden, which distanced itself somewhat from him, because his two uncles, Jacob and Marcus Wallenberg, had collaborated with the Nazis. Indeed, their family business, through its trading activities, provided major economic assistance to them.

Beker added: “The Wallenberg family became the symbol of the problematic nature of Sweden’s so-called neutrality during the Second World War. Raoul Wallenberg, however, who was not typical of the Swedish attitude in the Second World War, became the icon of a universalistic attitude.”111

Two Dutch authors, Gerard Aalders and Cees Wiebes, have studied in great detail the many services Sweden and several of its leading industrialists provided to Nazi Germany. They summed up their view of the Wallenbergs: “while Raoul did everything he could to save as many Jews as possible from the gas chambers, his families were the receivers of debentures the Nazis had stolen from Jews they deported.”112

When the Russian-Swedish working group investigating Raoul Wallenberg’s fate presented its report in January 2001, Persson commented:

Of course, the main responsibility for Raoul Wallenberg’s fate rests with the Soviet Government, which ordered and implemented Wallenberg’s disappearance from Hungary. Nonetheless it is now clear that more energetic and purposeful action on the part of Sweden during the 1940s could have led to a more successful outcome for Raoul Wallenberg and his relatives. I should like today, on my own behalf and on behalf of the Swedish Government, to extend our deepest regrets to his relatives for these mistakes.113

The Commission on Jewish Assets

As mentioned earlier, for many years Swedish foreign ministers have expressed severe criticism of Israel’s policies and supported extremely discriminatory anti-Israeli resolutions of UN bodies. This behavior should be compared with Sweden’s performance as described, for instance, in the conclusions of the Commission on Jewish Assets in Sweden at the Time of the Second World War: “One finds that Sweden’s policy toward the belligerent parties for most of the war was based on power politics. Moral issues were excessively disregarded and actions were taken with the overriding purpose of keeping Sweden out of the war and maintaining essential supplies. Today of course, such an attitude can seem deplorable.”114

The commission advised further study. One of the major issues concerned “The importance of Sweden’s trade with Nazi Germany, as regards the ability of the latter to continue its persecution of Jews and others, until as late as 1945. This research field is made relevant not least by the latter-day debate on whether Sweden’s trade with Germany prolonged the war and with it the sufferings of the Jewish people.”115

The commission also deplored the fact that the moral questions involved in the business relations with Nazi Germany were never raised in parliamentary or governmental discussions.116 If the Swedish Social Democratic governments’ double standards of the last decades as expressed in anti-Israeli statements ever become subject to similar public inquiry, future findings may duplicate those of the past in terms of the excessive disregarding of moral issues. In the Middle East conflict, Social Democrat governments have often sided with a murderous party.

Analyzing Swedish attitudes toward Israel brings many other matters to light. It also discloses a wide range of anti-Jewish behavior. The country’s collaboration with the Nazis during World War II, subsequently becoming a haven for war criminals, and the lengthy neglect of anti-Semitism are all manifestations of a mindset that will have many negative consequences, and not only for Israel and Jews.

The interview with Mazel in this volume recounts many examples of Swedish discriminatory behavior toward Israel during his term as ambassador. In an essay, anti-Semitism expert Mikael Tossavainen details the development of anti- Semitism in Sweden over the past decades and outlines the ongoing denial of the problem in the new century. Gerald Steinberg discusses, among other things, the negative aspects of SIDA’s role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Efraim Zuroff points out how postwar Social Democratic Sweden became a haven for Nazi war criminals.


After the  fall  2006  electoral  defeat  of  the  Social  Democratic  government in Sweden, Norway’s  leftist coalition  now  stands out among Western governments for its frequent anti-Israeli statements. Some of Europe’s most anti-Israeli politicians, trade unionists, journalists, and church leaders can be found in Norway. On various occasions their criticisms reflect anti-Semitic sentiment.

One attempt to rationalize part of the Norwegian government’s anti-Israelism is to attribute it to the country’s disappointment at the failure of the Oslo peace process. Its leaders had imagined their small country would go into history as the one where an intractable problem had found the beginning of its solution.

Levin said they saw the Oslo accords as “our Norwegian agreement.” She added:

Norway would like to be viewed favorably and help make peace in the Middle East. They thought Oslo would enable them to play a major role and to bask in its glory. They like conflicts which are presented in black and white. The Balkan wars were too complicated. It was hard to decide whom to support and whom to oppose. In Norway, the Middle East conflict is presented very simply: there is an occupier and there is a victim.117

After World War II, Norwegian socialists had often been pro-Israeli. The radical erosion of this position had begun, however, many years before the failure of the Oslo agreements. Today support for Israel is primarily found in the Progress Party and various—though far from all—Christian circles.

The Media

Norwegian media have played a major role in the demonization of Israel. As Levin noted:

The Norwegian public associates the word “occupation” with Germany’s occupation of Norway. The semantics are identical, but the content differs. Norwegians have no idea why Israel rules over the Palestinians; for them, one occupation equals another.

Consequently, many Norwegians have accepted the Palestinian version of the conflict as illustrated by the media. Whatever happens is interpreted within this framework. Norwegians are also naïve about Israel’s difficult neighbors, since for them a neighboring country means Sweden.118

For a very superficial impression of how to rapidly create a “do it yourself” negative image of a country, see, for instance, the small English website of the Norwegian daily Aftenposten, which every day has a few news articles in English. By selecting only items that give an unfavorable picture of Norway and writing these down, within a few weeks one will have a negative view of the country, if that remains one’s only source of information. Yet the picture thus obtained is only a minor distortion compared to the longstanding, biased stream of hatred against Israel in many Norwegian media.

As in many other Western countries, the Norwegian media are dominated by left-of-center journalists. A 2005 poll by the Norsk Respons firm found that 67 percent of Norwegian journalists voted for the Labor Party, the Socialist Left Party, or the far-Left Red Election Alliance (RV). Only 3 percent of the journalists voted for the rightist Progress Party, which represents about 20 percent of the voters in general opinion polls.119

One case of extreme anti-Israeli attitudes of the Norwegian Broadcasting Authority (NRK) is analyzed in this book by Odd Sverre Hove. He tells how, in 2000 after the Second Intifada broke out, its most important news program Dagsrevyen over two months “demonstrated a strong and systematic trend of biased news reporting.”

Calls for Boycotts

Anti-Israeli views sometimes find expression in calls for boycotts. The current Norwegian finance minister and leader of the Socialist Left Party, Kristin Halvorsen, is a pioneer at the government level in attempts at exclusion of Israel. In January 2006, she supported a  consumer  boycott  of  the  Jewish state.

Aftenposten reported that thereupon the U.S. secretary of state threatened Norway with “serious political consequences.” The paper said this was conveyed to the Norwegian embassy in Washington. Foreign Minister Støre then wrote to the Israeli government that Halvorsen’s position did not represent his own government’s stance.120

In 2002, another current Norwegian cabinet minister, Åslaug Haga, said concerning the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that “if we end up with ongoing acts of war we must evaluate all methods including economic boycott.”121 She became the leader of the Center Party in 2003. In 2004, she hinted at the possibility of an arms embargo against Israel under certain circumstances. In 2006, however, she came out against Halvorsen’s call for a boycott.

More Boycott Calls

Norway also has a prominent place in other attempts at discriminatory exclusion of Israel. In May 2002, Gerd-Liv Valla, leader of the prominent Norwegian Labor Union, was among the first important trade-union figures in the Western world to call for a boycott of Israel.122 At the end of 2005, the region of Sør Trøndelag, which includes Norway’s third largest city Trondheim, decided in favor of a boycott of Israel. However, the Norwegian government informed them that this decision was illegal.123

Shimon Samuels, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s director for international relations, described in a letter to Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg the proposed boycott of Israeli products by the region as:

  • an act of anti-Semitism in the spirit of Hitler’s “Kaufen nicht bei Juden” [Don’t buy from Jews] campaign of the 1930s
  • a continuation of Norway’s collaborationist history under its own Nazi leader, Vidkun Quisling
  • in violation of the freedom of commerce provisions of the European Union and the World Trade Organization
  • an embarrassment to the Norwegian foreign policy as it places Oslo in the camp of the rejectionists of the Middle East peace process and of the forces of 124

As mentioned earlier, Norwegian organizations and individuals have been in the forefront of anti-Israeli boycott attempts for some time. Usually, as often the case with such calls in other countries as well, these have not led to concrete actions. Their initiators often know that the boycotts will not succeed but see them as an opportunity to damage Israel’s image.

These boycott attempts continue. When, after thousands of rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza, Israel increased its defensive actions at the beginning of 2008, the Labor Party’s youth organization AUF demonstrated outside the Israeli embassy in Oslo. AUF leader Martin Henriksen placed roses on the stage in memory of the Palestinians who had died. Many of them were terrorists. He repeated the AUF’s 2006 demand to boycott Israel.125

Academic Boycott

From an international perspective Norway has not played a significant role in the various academic boycott attempts against Israel and Israeli academics. There are persistent rumors, however, that in one part of Oslo University a list has been circulated asking academics to sign that they will not collaborate with Israeli academics. No concrete proof of this has been found. That would only occur if someone who is asked to sign photocopies the list and makes it publicly available. In another anti-Israeli action, Tromsø University granted an honorary doctorate to the Israeli nuclear spy Mordechai Vanunu.126

Yael Beck, a former student at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, related that all students there have  to belong to a student organization, Studentsamskipaden i Trondheim (SIT), which takes care of their welfare. In April 2005, SIT decided on a boycott of Israel. Students at the university are obliged to pay a semester fee so as to be allowed to take exams, which includes an obligatory payment to SIT. It was only in February 2006 that SIT decided to cancel the boycott because it did not fit the ethical guidelines, which instructed it to allow students to make their own decisions.127

One early boycott case in Norwegian academia, however, made international headlines. In the 7 June 2002 issue of Science, the world’s leading general- interest magazine in the scientific field, its editor Donald Kennedy criticized an academic scholar without mentioning a name. For political reasons this scholar had refused to supply cell lines and other genetic materials from her laboratory to Israeli scholars who wished to pursue this line of research. Kennedy said that in the future he would take an active stand against such scholars if they submitted articles to his journal.

It later became known that the scientist concerned was Dr. Ingrid Harbitz of Oslo University. She had refused a request for a clone by a scholar from Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. Eitan Galun, head of the Hadassah laboratory in question, said “there was ‘something racist and prejudicial in the fact that the Norwegian institute simply applied a blanket standard.’”128

Later Harbitz changed her mind and made the clone available to the Israeli scientist. The rector of Oslo University, who at the request of an Israeli scholar had been contacted by another Norwegian academic, replied that there was no reason to boycott Israeli scientists.129


On several occasions NGO Monitor has analyzed Norwegian aid to the Palestinians. It concluded that while some of Norway’s aid to NGOs is channeled to development and humanitarian assistance, significant funding goes to NGOs engaged in political campaigning and advocacy against Israel, and in support of extreme Palestinian demands. This NGO activity often contradicts or works against the goals of the Norwegian government to “promot[e] democracy, human rights and good governance” and to help “lay the foundation for resuming peace negotiations.”130

One major Norwegian NGO is Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), which receives major funding from the Norwegian government. Although it does support humanitarian projects among the Palestinians, it also, according to NGO Monitor, finances Palestinian NGOs that employ politicized rhetoric to attack Israel and are active in the divestment and boycott movement against Israel. For example, the “Stop the Wall Campaign” in Norway lists NPA as one of its most important affiliates in the country. NPA helped promote the campaign’s Autumn 2004 conference entitled “The Apartheid Wall and the Future for a Palestinian State.”

NPA also funds the Palestinian Association for Cultural Exchange (PACE). This body is a signatory to a petition calling for the academic boycott of Israel. Yet another NGO supported by NPA is the Maan Development Center, which has also signed a petition calling for the academic boycott of Israel.131

More detailed data on Norwegian NGOs’ indirect support for hate campaigns against Israel can be found on the NGO Monitor website.132

The Norwegian government also blatantly interferes in the internal politics of Israel, another democracy. Together with EU countries and Canada, it funds a project run by Peace Now that monitors the expansion of settlements in Judea and Samaria. Peace Now reports on construction at settlements, and this information is then used to pressure the Israeli government to dismantle outposts and stop further construction work.

The Norwegian Foreign Office has supported this project financially since 2001. According to their own figures, they gave Peace Now approximately 6.25 million Norwegian kroners (over $1 million) from 2001 to 2007.133

From 1983 to the Second Lebanon War

Israeli former cabinet minister Michael Melchior, who is Danish-born, said:

In 1983 I helped organize an international hearing in Oslo against anti- Semitism, which dealt with the anti-Semitic outburst at the time of the Israeli-Lebanese war. The main anti-Semitic expressions which we find now were already in use then. It was the first time European anti-Semitism had targeted the Israeli national identity.

One could take the speeches from that meeting, without changing a word, and print these anew. All what was is unfortunately still valid. What always happens in such collective hatred is that, if one does not react appropriately, the anti-Semites raise the volume. In each wave of anti-Semitic outbursts, both the violence and verbal attacks become stronger.

Melchior added that at that meeting

Professor Leo Eitinger, an Auschwitz survivor, spoke. A Norwegian psychiatrist, he had been among the first to investigate the Holocaust syndrome. He analyzed what the Norwegian newspapers wrote about the 1982 Lebanese war and interpreted it as an effort to cover up the guilt of Europe.  Many Europeans  had  collaborated with the Nazis or  stood passively by when the Jews were being murdered. Now Europeans tried to claim that the Jews were doing something somewhat similar. This implied that apparently what had happened to the Jews was deserved or not so terrible.134

In his books Eitinger had shown great early insight into how anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism overlap. Much of what he said can be applied to substantial parts of today’s Norwegian elites. A few quotations will illustrate this.

One can read both in the Eastern and the  Western  press  that  nobody wants to be an anti-Semite. Yes, even the PLO claim that they have nothing against Jews, only against Zionists. Thus, one finds oneself in the paradoxical situation that nobody wishes to be an anti-Semite, and at the same time not only the Jewish State, but also Jewish institutions outside of Israel’s borders are subjected to attacks and Jews become victims of bomb attacks.135

It is…absolutely illogical and devoid of meaning to claim that one is not discriminating against the Jews, in other words anti-Semitic, and at the same time not allow them to regard themselves as a people, and oppose Israel’s right to decide its own immigration policy.136

Eitinger continued that this is “a Jew-hating, anti-Semitic attitude and acts to support the destruction of the Jewish state. Extensive documentation exists to prove that the word ‘Jew’ has simply been exchanged with ‘Zionist’ in numerous official, anti-Semitic speeches and publications.”137

An anecdote illustrates how similar anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism are. The third stage of anti-Semitism, elimination of the Jewish state, has also permeated some parts of Norwegian society. Levin related, “A cousin of mine went to a dentist and casually said, ‘I haven’t been here for a long time.’ The dentist replied, ‘A lot of things have happened.’ They then discussed the Middle East and Israel. The dentist said that if Israel did not exist, there would be no problem.”138 One only has to replace the word Israel with “Jews” to identify this person’s Quisling-like mentality.

Forbidding Ritual Slaughter, Keen on Hunting

One key element of anti-Semitism in Norway is the longstanding prohibition of Jewish ritual slaughter. It was introduced there a few years even before that was the case in Germany with Hitler’s accession to power. It is presented as concern for animal welfare but is yet another example of masking more profound discriminatory attitudes. Hunting, where there is no control at all on how painfully an animal dies, is not only permitted but even popular in the circles of the current Socialist-led government. The number of animals killed by hunters in Norway is also far larger than the animals required for kosher meat in the country.

Hunting received some attention because of parliamentary questions in spring 2008, as two ministers had taken time off to get hunting licenses at the height of a terrorist crisis in January. Justice Minister Knut Storberget and Defense Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen were criticized because they had passed the test for such a license at the same time their colleague Foreign Minister Støre was hiding in the cellar of a Kabul hotel after the abovementioned terrorist attack there that had killed one person of his entourage and wounded another.

“It also became known that instruction tied to the studies needed for hunting licenses had earlier taken place in the office of the prime minister himself, Jens Stoltenberg, with several ministers taking part.”139

Norway, Japan and, to a much lesser extent, Iceland are the only countries in the world that allow whaling. The number of these mammals cruelly killed annually by the Norwegian fleet is tens of times that of the few cows necessary to provide the annual kosher-meat requirements for all the Jews of Norway who want it. This is a prime example of the combination of Norway’s anti-Semitism and hypocrisy.

The Second Lebanon War

Anti-Semitic reactions in Norway during the Second Lebanon War were among the worst in Europe. The European Jewish Congress report summarized this:

For Anne Sender, President of Det Mosaiske Trossamfund, the Jewish community’s representative organization, the shooting [at Oslo’s synagogue on 17 September]—was the culmination of a series of incidents which created a considerable atmosphere of intimidation and fear for the country’s Jews. Coinciding with the outbreak of hostilities in the Middle East, an outbreak of desecrations, verbal attacks and insults as well as physical attacks and threats forced the community to take additional security measures and to heavily reinforce the police presence around Jewish buildings.140

After Gaarder published his anti-Semitic article in Aftenposten, Shimon Samuels wrote an open letter to Norway to protest. On 14 August he advised the newspaper’s editor that he had received 700 replies of which 446 decried Gaarder’s positions. He added: “Of the negative third, 42 are almost word for word copies pointing to a form-letter campaign of manipulation. Others are unrepeatable racist obscenity.”141

Hili Hansen, a student at Hebrew University, has in a seminar paper investigated the talkbacks to eleven articles concerning Israel in 2006 and 2007. These articles were published in Aftenposten and the left-of-center daily tabloid Dagbladet. They included the article by Gaarder. The main finding was that the debate was extremely polarized.

Hansen analyzed six hundred negative talkbacks. She observed that the worst talkbacks might have been deleted by the moderator. Yet several of those that did appear contained clearly anti-Semitic content. Fifteen percent of these talkbacks compared Israel to a terror state or said it committed terrorism; 12.5 percent said it killed or attacked innocent civilians; 12.5 percent said it was driven by religion or the belief that Jews are the “chosen people.” Ten percent said Israel violates international law. Among the others, 8.5 percent said Israel is itself to blame for terrorism and the hatred against it.142

Norway and the Cartoon Riots

Although the  cartoon riots  focused  mainly on  Denmark, Norway was  also involved. On 10 January 2006, the small Norwegian Christian weekly Magazinet reprinted the cartoons. It soon apologized. In February, however, together with the Danish, Swedish, and Chilean embassies that were in the same building, the Norwegian embassy in Damascus was also burned down.

Although much international attention was given to the Danish government’s reaction to the cartoon riots, the Norwegian government’s position was hardly mentioned. The website Dhimmi Watch notes the content of an email that Foreign Minister Støre sent out to Norwegian embassies. In it he said he fully understood that the cartoons in Magazinet were seen as offensive by Muslims worldwide. “Islam is a spiritual reference point for a large point of the world. Your faith has the right to be respected by us.”

Another quote from that email merits particular attention: “Let it be clear that the Norwegian government condemns every expression or act which expresses contempt for people on the basis of their religion or ethnic origin.”143 Whoever reads this can only wonder why Norway is a prime source of extreme anti-Semitic cartoons in Europe and at the same time is not in the forefront of the battle against the major current of racism and anti-Semitism coming from the Muslim world. This hypocritical and humanitarian-racist attitude of part of its elites typifies the country’s mask behind which one must look.

As if to demonstrate even more its attitude regarding respect for other nations, the Norwegian parliament unanimously agreed in February 2008 to decriminalize the burning of other countries’ flags in Norway. Before that only burning the Norwegian flag was legal. Aftenposten quoted the well-known political scientist Prof. Frank Aarebrot saying “he could understand how the parliament found it difficult to reconcile a law against flag-burning with freedom of expression.”144

American columnist Dennis Prager wrote about the rioting Muslims during the cartoon riots: “But like the earlier Nazis, our generation’s fascists hate anything good, not merely Jews and Americans. And now the Damascus embassy of Norway, a leading anti-Israel peace at any price country, has been torched.”145 After the Muhammad cartoons were reprinted in Denmark in February 2008, a children’s program on Hamas TV showed a rabbit named Assud calling on the audience to kill Danes and specifically one of the Danish cartoonists who had drawn the cartoons. Deputy Minister Johansen said that “this is shocking and a form of brainwashing of children which is completely unacceptable.”146 One rarely, if ever, hears such statements from his Socialist Left Party about the frequent similar or worse brainwashing of Palestinian children with murderous hatred against Israel.

Anti-Semitic cartoons have been published regularly over the past decades in the major Norwegian media. One of the main cartoonists is Finn Graff, who published a caricature depicting Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert as a sadistic Nazi camp commander. In March 2007, Graff was made a knight in the prestigious Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav by the Norwegian king Harald V for his contribution as an artist.147 The Council of the Order, in its evaluation, emphasized that Graff’s drawings engaged readers and art audiences both domestically and internationally. It also declared that his drawings were an inspiration for all who draw and illustrate.

Around the time he received the prize, Graff said his drawing of Olmert had come out “totally wrong.” Yet he said he did not want to appear as someone who regretted it.148 It is obvious, though, that what came out of Graff’s hands reflected what was in his head.

In March 2008, Julius Paltiel, one of the few Norwegian Auschwitz survivors, died and was buried in Trondheim. King Harald V attended the funeral. The public role of the king in Norway is symbolic and this was a symbolic act. The juxtaposition is also symbolic: honoring a dead Jew as well as a living inciter to the hatred of Jews, one of the leading designers of anti-Semitic cartoons in Europe.149

During the cartoon riots Magazinet—since merged with Dagen—wrote that a Norwegian cartoonist had received death threats for his drawings of Muslim religious leaders. The article also quoted Finn Graff saying that, because of threats of violence against cartoonists or of having his throat cut, he had no intention of drawing Muhammad. He added that this was not only out of fear but also out of respect for the religious beliefs of Muslims.150

In February 2008, three people were arrested in Denmark and accused of plotting to kill the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who had drawn a picture of Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban. In response, eleven Danish dailies reprinted the cartoon. Norwegian papers decided not to do so. On that occasion Aftenposten editor in chief Hans Erik Matre said, “We have always been cautious about our use of text, pictures and photos.”151 The fact that his paper had published the extremely anti-Semitic article by Gaarder indicates yet another facet of the Norwegian media’s double standards toward Israel.

Restitution of Jewish Property

Norway’s deep anti-Semitic past and widespread anti-Israeli present point to the need to reinvestigate the Norwegian wartime myth. It is also important to analyze how the Norwegian democratic authorities behaved toward the Jews after the country’s liberation.

For many years Norway has tried to project an image of its wartime role as a small courageous nation with few Nazi collaborators and one that, after its independence was restored, became a beacon of morality and humanism. This false picture was further punctured when information on the major failures of the postwar restitution process in Norway was revealed by the journalist Bjørn Westlie, who wrote an article on the topic in 1995 on the occasion of fifty years since the end of World War II.

Westlie noted that the German occupation of Norway during 1940-1945 is the subject most studied by Norwegian historians, hundreds of books having been published on it. Yet the financial aspects of the persecution of Norway’s Jews had been largely ignored. He concluded: “It represents one of the most dramatic and brutal episodes in Norwegian history.”152 Before the Jews were sent to their deaths, all their possessions were confiscated by the Norwegian police and government officials.

After the war, Norway’s democratic government established a reparations office for confiscated properties. Westlie concluded that the Norwegian authorities had done very little to help the Jews recover their property after the war, despite the fact that significant amounts of money were found in bank accounts. Restitution was paid, though how much is not known. For example, the wartime Liquidation Board for Confiscated Jewish Assets, which dealt with stolen Jewish properties, used 32 percent of their value for its own administration. These sums were deducted from the restitution payments to the Jews! Westlie wrote that many applicants retrieved only small parts of their possessions—one particular family, to his knowledge, received less than 1 percent.153

The reparations office also transferred some private Jewish property to the War Indemnity Fund, a state-run welfare scheme. Only Norwegian citizens could apply for it. Of the thousand surviving Norwegian Jews, several hundred were not citizens and thus not eligible for any indemnity. During the war the Norwegian government had promised the World Jewish Congress (WJC) that it would take measures to help the Norwegian Jews, but it did not do so.

Westlie added:

Although [during the war] the Jews in Norway were treated differently in every respect from all other  Norwegian  groups,  this  was  not  taken into consideration during the post-war settlement.… A directorate was established to help Norwegian seamen as a group with particular problems after the war. The inhabitants of the northern region of Finnmark, too, were viewed and treated as a special group after their homes and workplaces had been burned and plundered by the Germans. Special measures for the Jews, on the other hand, were not taken into consideration. This was a historic injustice.154

A New Round of Restitution

In the 1990s, largely thanks to the efforts of the WJC, the major shortcomings in restituting Jewish property after the war by many European countries—both democratic and communist—came to international attention.

Norway was the first country where the postwar restitution failures were investigated in detail. The government’s proposal for restitution was ultimately supported by the entire parliament and considered generous. Thereafter the country has been highly praised, since it was the first European government to offer terms in the new round of restitution. This favorable impression was largely because the decision to make these payments was the item that generated the most international interest. Yet, given that payments to a rather small number of survivors were involved, the costs to Norway of this belated justice were relatively minor, while preventing major damage to its image abroad.

A look, however, at the process that preceded this decision gives a very different perspective. After Westlie’s article was published, the Norwegian justice minister promised to establish a commission of inquiry. Not long afterward the Jewish community received a thesis written by a non-Jewish student, Bjarte Bruland, on the issue of restitution. Berit Reisel, a psychologist and deputy chairperson of the Jewish community in Oslo, had become interested in this matter. She then asked Westlie and Bruland to form a team with her to follow up on the subject.155

Government Obstruction

Two years later, after the settlement had been announced, Reisel gave an interview to the Dutch Jewish weekly NIW. She said that by fall 1995, she and her colleagues had realized that no commission of inquiry had been established at the ministry. The team now started to investigate the matter and discovered that there had indeed been problems with the postwar restitution. They informed the Justice Ministry about their findings.

In January 1996, the WJC had released information on the Norwegian government’s shortcomings in postwar restitution. The spokesperson of the Justice Ministry asked Reisel, before they jointly appeared on a radio program, to lie and say that her team and the Justice Ministry had already been collaborating for a year. She promised that this would mark the beginning of good collaboration. Reisel agreed to her request.156

When, two days later, Reisel met a top official at the Justice Ministry, he said the Jews had received all they were entitled to after the war. He added that she could not be a member of the commission as she was prejudiced and unreliable. He told her the same regarding Bruland.

Reisel told the journalist from the Dutch paper that, at a further meeting at the Justice Ministry chaired by this top official,

there were a professor of history, a professor of law, two accountants and a representative of the National Archive. They were all very aggressive against the Jews and said the issue of the restitution had been a simple administrative matter that one should not judge ethically or morally. A representative of the Foreign Ministry was the only one who did not agree with that and a quarrel ensued.157

A few weeks later a commission was established and the Jewish communities of Oslo and Trondheim were each entitled to name a member. They chose Reisel and Bruland. Reisel recounts that in the first meeting, the chairman Oluf Skarpnes said he could not find in the law that the Jews had to give up their property before they were murdered. Regarding the Holocaust, he also said the Jews to whom this had happened must have done something terrible. Being a lawyer he considered that “one could not kill people and take their property unless they had done something wrong.”158

Bruland observed, “I had the feeling Skarpnes was mandated by the bureaucrats of the ministry to silence this problem. I cannot prove it and he certainly never told me about it; yet it seemed clear to me. Skarpnes had no understanding of Jews and couldn’t imagine what it meant to be a Jew after the war.”159

Bias in the National Archive

When the members of the Skarpnes Commission were to be appointed, the representatives of the Jewish communities opposed the naming of an official of the National Archive  who  showed  a  preconceived  opinion  in  meetings so that he could not be considered neutral.160 Instead his wife was appointed. When this was discovered she withdrew and thereupon her best friend was appointed.

In her newspaper interview, Reisel said that in a meeting where many commission members were present, the latter had said: “We will help the Justice Department with this issue and see to it that the Jews will not receive a penny. The miserly Jews must keep their trap shut.”

During the summer vacation of 1996, Reisel found that Skarpnes had concluded a contract with the National Archive without the knowledge of the commission members. The contract stated that the two women against whom the Jewish representatives had objected would be the researchers. This caused the atmosphere in the commission to become very unpleasant. It was clear that the authorities were continuing to obstruct the process.

Skarpnes told Reisel that if she did not sign the text of the report he supported, it would cost her dearly as far as her life and health was concerned. A few days later she was physically attacked. Her impression is that the two events were linked. Her phone was also tapped. On a number of occasions when she picked up the phone to make a call, she heard playbacks of an earlier conversation of hers.161

Ultimately the two representatives of the Jewish community decided to write a minority report. This was unprecedented in Norway for members of an official commission. When this became known, the media devoted major attention to it. This led to a government decision that Reisel and Bruland’s minority report should serve as the basis for the evaluations in the restitution process. The Norwegian parliament accepted this proposal.

An Unrepentant Nazi

Reisel described to American journalist Richard Z. Chesnoff her 1994 visit to Rolf Svindal. He had, during the war, been the head of Oslo’s Liquidation Board for Confiscated Jewish Assets, established by the Quisling government to loot Jewish property. Reisel needed books and files still in his possession. Svindal, then ninety-six years old, introduced himself by saying, “My name is Rolf Svindal and I am a Nazi.” He unrepentantly told Reisel that his large apartment contained furniture and paintings taken from Jews. That somebody was willing to admit this in a conversation further illustrates the failure of restitution in Norway.

There was only one matter Svindal was sorry about. As Reisel reported, “He was angry that, after the war, the Norwegian authorities had mixed up the property files for the Jews and non-Jews. That’s what bothered him the most. He was a very good clerk, and he had done everything right with a system down to the last centimeter. And then someone had made a mess of his beautiful orderly system. It was awful to hear.”162

In an interview in this volume, Bruland tells the story of the confiscation of Jewish property during the war and the subsequent discrimination against the Jews after it had ended. He also notes the government’s adoption of the Skarpnes Commission minority position and how the restitution money decided upon was allocated.

Choosing Norway as a Target

The WJC played a substantial role in the Norwegian restitution battle. From time to time the WJC published information on the issue internationally, sometimes to the regret of the Norwegian Jewish community.163

The then WJC secretary-general Israel Singer explained in an interview why his organization targeted Norway first among West European countries:

In 1996 we organized a conference on all restitution subjects. To fix our restitution roadmap, we looked at the documents of the 1942 Wannsee Conference in which the Germans had made detailed plans for murdering eleven million Jews. They managed to kill six million. There were so many perpetrators and collaborators in so many different countries, we couldn’t tackle them all at once.

In that year we chose Norway as our first target among the occupied countries. When we started complaining about the Norwegian government’s behavior, Michael Melchior, the country’s chief rabbi, told us more about what had happened during the rule of the Quisling government and after the war.

Singer observed that the WJC wanted to start with a nation where we were reasonably sure we would win. We thus chose Norway not for moral or justice reasons, but strategic ones. It was a guilty country with a small number of Jews.

As far as money was concerned, the problem there was easily manageable. Norway is rich and has abundant oil reserves. Whatever payment the Norwegians were to make to the Jewish community or to individuals would not affect their well-being. Paying out some money to Holocaust survivors would not mean their children would have to make any sacrifices.164

Quisling’s Norway

Beker has pointed out that in Norway also, renewed attention to wartime history— which accompanied the new restitution process—has damaged the national resistance myths. He said:

In Norway’s wartime history there is the problematic, important and symbolic figure of Vidkun Quisling, whose name will forever retain an unwanted association with that country. The Norwegians want to distance themselves from their wartime government, which they try to present as something which is not truly part of their past.

After the war Quisling was executed, yet many Norwegians had similar ideas, including intellectuals who openly preached anti-Semitism. Quisling was also supported by very senior Norwegian officials. A Norwegian Supreme Court judge headed the Liquidation Board of Confiscated Jewish Assets. The Norwegian wartime authorities played an important role in the deportations. Others were silent and benefited from Jewish properties.

Beker added: “Though Quisling’s Norway was very different from Vichy France, the two fall within similar categories. I assume that after the war—both in Norway and France—there were heavy guilt feelings among some people. Does it go too far to say that, as a compensatory act, both countries have supplied important parts of Israel’s nuclear reactor?”165

In 2006, a new Center for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities was created. It is located in Villa Grande, Quisling’s former home in Oslo. Its director Odd-Bjørn Fure mentioned the center’s research on the eagerness of the Norwegian National Socialist regime to deport Jews to Germany.

Fure stated that, for the first time, his center had found that it was “exclusively Norwegian Nazis that rounded up Jews, while the German SS went after Norwegian students, police and military officers.” He concluded that countries such as Vichy France, Bulgaria, and fascist Italy “did not go as far in deportation as Nazi Norway.”166

Norway’s anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism are analyzed in a more detailed article in this volume by this author. Erez Uriely surveys anti-Semitic cartoons in Norwegian mainstream papers. Odd Sverre Hove discusses Norwegian state television’s bias during the Second Intifada. In an interview, Bjarte Bruland recounts the Norwegian restitution process during the previous decade.


 Denmark has been ruled since 2001 by a right-of-center government headed by Anders Fogh Rasmussen. It has not been in the forefront of the European attacks on Israel.

Some Danish organizations, however, have been among the pioneers of anti-Israeli actions. In 2002, the General Workers Union in Denmark (SiD) was among the first European bodies to call for a boycott of Israeli goods. The union canceled a preliminary order for products from the Israeli company Radix.167

In October 2001, Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Ze’evi was assassinated by Palestinian terrorists. Then-Danish foreign minister Mogens Lykketoft, who later would become leader of the Social Democrats, said on television that there was no difference between this assassination and Israel’s targeted killing of terrorists.168

Incitement against Danish Jews has also come from mainstream politicians.

In May 2004, The chairman of the Danish Social Democrats in the European Parliament, Torben Lund, wrote an article in Politiken (3 May). Proposing a complete economic boycott of Israel, he stressed the responsibility of the Jews for the policies of the Israeli government and argued that if criticism of murder was anti-Semitism, “then call me an anti-Semite.” Chief Rabbi Emeritus Bent Melchior responded with an article in Politiken (8 May), entitled “Congratulations Lund, You Are an Antisemite.”169

Denmark Funding Terror Glorification

In April 2008, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported that Ma’an News, “a Palestinian news agency [that] receives financial support from the governments of The Netherlands and Denmark glorifies terrorists,  releases news stories using hate language and is a highly politicized, hate-promoting news organization.”

PMW noted that Ma’an had glorified several Palestinian suicide bombers and other murderers, elevating them to the status of “Shahids” or “Martyrs for Allah.” According to the accepted Palestinian interpretation of Islam, there is no higher status that a Muslim can achieve today than that of Shahid. In defining terrorist murderers as “Shahids,” Ma’an is by definition sending its readers a straightforward message of honor for the killers, and approval for the many murders. Negative or dishonorable actions could not elevate an individual to Shahid status.

PMW then presented a number of examples where the agency did not use the promurder language in its English news version. Thus, in Arabic it said “two of the operatives died as Shahids” while in English it said “Two Palestinians killed by gunfire.” On another occasion Ma’an translated two suicide bombers as Shahada-Seekers in its Arabic version while in English they were neutrally called “bombers.”170

Media and Muslims

The Danish daily Politiken has been considered anti-Israeli for many years now. At the end of 2002, a full-page ad signed by many hundreds of Jews and non- Jews criticized the paper’s coverage of the Middle East conflict. It said, among other things:

Politiken has, for a long period, been a partner to creating a more intense atmosphere and attitude regarding Israel and Jews. This has been seen in editorials and readers’ letters. By comparing the Israeli presence in the Palestinian areas to the Holocaust and Nazi crimes during the war, they demonize Israel. They show the Palestinians as the only symbols of suffering. Readers’ letters printed in the newspaper have claimed that “threats against Danish Jews collectively are understandable since not all Jews expressed disagreement with Israeli policy.”

The ad said that by allowing such expressions the paper was “giving Jew-haters free space.”171

In September 2006, the daily Berlingske Tidende (BT) observed that Jews in Denmark are exposed to hatred. They cannot travel freely and suffer death threats and harassment on the streets. A young Jew, who has since moved to Israel, interviewed in the BT article, said that when he walked on the street (in an immigrant area), wearing his skullcap, he was threatened with death and harassed daily, not only by immigrant youth but by families with babies and even elderly women. We will kill you, they said. This is our area, you Jewish pig. In another BT article, a police officer on duty in Aarhus said it was an unnecessary provocation to wear a skullcap in certain (immigrant) neighborhoods of the city.172

Muslims, who account for less than 5 percent of the Danish population, are involved in many of the incidents of physical aggression, vandalism, and threats against Jews.173

An Attack of Anti-Danish Hatred

 In 2005, Denmark briefly experienced a widespread attack of hatred from the Arab and Muslim world. It shows how experiences similar to the ones regularly undergone by Israel and Jews befall others as well in the long run.174 As mentioned earlier, in September that year the daily Jyllands-Posten published twelve cartoons showing the Prophet Muhammad. It did so in reaction to the fact that a Danish children’s author could not find anybody to illustrate his biography of Muhammad.175

The Arab ambassadors in Copenhagen protested the cartoons. A debate began in Denmark, but it faded rapidly and the matter seemed closed. The cartoon conflict was rekindled, however, by several Danish imams who traveled to Arab countries to agitate. These visits led to calls from various Muslim sources to boycott Denmark.176

On 26 January 2006, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Denmark and a widespread boycott of Danish products began. On 30 January, Jyllands- Posten declared that, while the cartoons had insulted many Muslims, they were not against Danish law. Early in February, papers in a number of European countries published some of the cartoons to underline their support for freedom of the press.177

The Cartoon Riots

Throughout February, these cartoons sparked anti-Western violence in many Muslim and several other countries. By the end of the month the disturbances had mostly dissipated. The Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus were burned down, as were the Swedish and Chilean embassies, which were in the same building. The Danish mission in Beirut was gutted as well. Demonstrators in Tehran attacked the Danish, French, and Austrian embassies with stones and firebombs, and threw rocks at the British mission.178

Due to intimidation, the European Union closed its offices in Gaza City and ordered its staff to leave. Gunmen of Fatah and Islamic Jihad came to the offices and said they would remain closed until the Norwegian and Danish governments apologized for insulting Muslims.

The Associated Press reported that five hundred children from a Hamas- affiliated school in Hebron in the Palestinian territories stomped on a Danish flag and shouted anti-Danish slogans.179 Unarmed European observers of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron fled after crowds overpowered the Palestinian police, smashed windows, and threw stones at the observers’ building.180

By the end of February the disturbances over the Danish cartoons had taken close to two hundred lives in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Kenya, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, and Nigeria. Most of the dead were Muslims, many of them killed by other Muslims. Others, particularly in Nigeria, were Christians. Burning Danish flags became almost a ritual, but other flags such as the American, French, German, and Israeli ones were torched as well.181

Little European Solidarity

A widespread boycott of Danish products in the Arab Middle East, and to a lesser extent elsewhere in the Muslim world, greatly diminished exports to these areas for some time. As a result some workers in Denmark and the Middle East were laid off.

The Danish government temporarily withdrew its embassy personnel from Syria, Iran, and Indonesia and advised its citizens to leave these countries.182

It also closed its consulates in Lebanon and Tunisia.183 The Danish government stated that it had not intended to offend anybody, but also pointed out that free speech prevails in Denmark and a government is not responsible for what its citizens do within the limits of the law.

The European governments were initially in disarray and slow to show solidarity with Denmark. EU foreign policy coordinator Javier Solana went to the Middle East to express solidarity with Muslims without stressing the European value of press freedom. Most experts agree that the anticartoon turmoil in the Muslim world was to a large extent organized and not spontaneous.

The Muslim boycott of the Danish firms sparked a movement to “buy Danish” in the Western world. However, the American columnist Debbie Schlussel wrote that she would not participate in sympathy buying since Danish firms had been boycotting Israel in recent years:

Sorry, but we are NOT all Danes now.… Denmark—and ALL of  its media, Jyllands Posten included—has long been consistent with the other Scandinavian countries in being a harsh critic of Israel and its meek attempts to respond to Islamic terrorism and Arab anti-Semitism…. Denmark’s Channel 2 broadcast a “documentary” about the Israeli “raid” on Jenin that was full of lies and completely defamatory. The “raid” on this terror stronghold (in which less than 25 died) was in response to the blowing up of many Jews peacefully celebrating Passover (the “Passover Massacre”). Denmark re- broadcast this phony “documentary” within the LAST MONTH!184

As aforementioned, in February 2008 the debate about these cartoons was rekindled when three people were arrested in Denmark and accused of plotting to kill the cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who had drawn a picture of the Prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban. As a reaction to the planned attack, a number of Danish dailies reprinted the cartoon. This led to some renewed anti- Danish actions in various Muslim countries.

Boycott of Danish Food Companies

The Danish trade union that supported boycotting Israel had the occasion a few years later to understand how their discriminatory approach can be applied by others against Denmark as well. In 2006, during the cartoon riots in the Muslim world, there was a boycott of Danish products by Middle Eastern consumers.

The company probably hardest hit was the Swedish-Danish dairy group Arla Foods. It suffered a loss of earnings of approximately 450 million kroners or about $100 million. The consumer boycott began anew after the republication of the cartoons in February 2008. A spokesman for Arla said, at the beginning of April, that turnover was about half the level budgeted for the year in the region.

At the same time, according to its chairman Niels Bruun, the sales of Saedager—another Danish dairy producer—had practically come to a standstill in the Middle East. During the 2006 crisis its turnover there had declined by 70 percent.185

The Second Lebanon War

The Second Lebanon War had less of an impact on attitudes toward Israel in Denmark than in other Scandinavian countries. Nor was there a marked increase in anti-Semitic acts.

The Jewish community reported, however, that there had already been a rise in Muslim anti-Semitism in Denmark. An article in Kristeligt Dagblad, quoted by the European Jewish Congress, said that in the first half of 2006, that is, before the war started, there had already been as many attacks on Danish Jews as in all of 2005. “Most attacks have been aimed at people going to synagogue or at children on their way to school, and some have been of a grave nature, according to the newspaper.”186

The same report noted that a Gallup poll taken on August 5th showed that 48% of those polled supported Israel’s action, while 7% supported Hizbollah…. There were many demonstrations that could be termed “anti-Israeli” in Denmark during the summer, primarily organized by left-wing groups in cooperation with Muslim groups. Such marches and events were sparsely attended, and barely received any media attention.187

The attitude toward Israel during the war was thus far more positive in Denmark than in most other West European countries. The country’s experience with the violent anti-Danish attacks during the cartoon crisis may have contributed to that attitude. It is too early to say whether, if terrorist attempts by radical Muslims in Europe continue, a similar shift in opinion will occur in some other countries. Given cultural differences, reactions may vary.

Holocaust Issues

Denmark is often praised for the help it extended during World War II to its Jews who escaped to Sweden. However, this very commendable activity was carried out by only a small part of its population. It is also far from the only relevant issue concerning Denmark’s attitude toward persecuted Jews.

Denmark has a more checkered Holocaust history than many realize. Vilhjálmur Örn Vilhjámsson has revealed that Denmark deported twenty-one German Jews to Nazi Germany, where most presumably perished. Efraim Zuroff wrote in Berlingske Tidende:

The articles published recently in this paper reveal that Denmark implemented a restrictive anti-Jewish refugee policy in the ’30s and ’40s and, on its own initiative, sent German Jewish refugees back into the Nazi inferno. We also know now that at least one Danish company exploited slave labor in Estonia and that the negative attitude toward stateless Jews persisted even after World War II. If we add up the decades-long cover-up of these issues, the refusal of some agencies to allow research into these questions, and the failure of the Danish authorities to prosecute Danes who committed Nazi war crimes, the picture is far bleaker than we ever imagined.188

The issue of Denmark’s wartime collaboration with the Nazis may be much more substantial than has been acknowledged until now. Unopened archives may contain the names of about three hundred thousand Nazis or Nazi sympathizers collected by a Nazi opponent. Claus Bryld, a professor of modern history at Roskilde University, claimed that much of Denmark’s industry and agriculture collaborated with the Nazis, and that twelve thousand Danes actually fought with the Germans against the Russians.

Bryld also stated that once these archives are opened,

Big business figures may be compromised by  their  release  and  there may be revealing information in the files on the royal family. There were very intimate relations between leading German officials and leading Danish ones. They made no political considerations. They traded with the Germans as if they were normal people. A moral perspective was totally absent.189

Holocaust Deniers

There have also occasionally been publications by Danish Holocaust deniers. In July 2007, Shimon Samuels, director of international relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), wrote to Denmark’s prime minister protesting a monetary award to Erik Haaest.

The letter said: “Haaest reportedly received this prize for his work on ‘The Danish Friekorps on the Eastern Front 1941-1965’ [this was a Danish volunteer unit of the Waffen-SS], hardly a symbol of Danish national pride,” adding, “Haaest’s citations from Holocaust denial literature go back to the 1959 volume of the Journal of Historical Review published by the institute of the same name, frequented by neo-Nazis worldwide.”

Samuels continued, “your government’s award to Haaest violated the commitments of Denmark to the European Commission and to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.” The SWC asked the Danish government “to immediately withdraw this outrageous award, to investigate its circumstances and publicly dismiss those responsible.”190

Danish culture minister Brian Mikkelsen replied that  these  grants  had been awarded by the Arts Council and that its former chairman on the literary committee had publicly stated that “no grants would have been given if such statements had surfaced while Erik Haaest’s applications were being processed.” The minister pointed out that the Arts Council  was  independent  and  not under the ministry’s control, and that grants made by the council could not be revoked.191

Arthur Arnheim’s article in this volume summarizes Danish anti-Semitism. Vilhjálmur Örn Vilhjálmsson and Bent Blüdnikow note in their essay that in the fifty years after World War II, no one investigated in detail the fate of the Jewish refugees who sought asylum in Denmark in the 1930s and 1940s. They assert that Danish historians averted their gaze from darker aspects of Denmark’s policy that continued after the war. They also mention findings that Danish firms used Jewish slave laborers during the war.


Finland is a scarcely heard actor on the international scene. In recent years, one exception was during the Second Lebanon War when the Finnish presidency of the European Union gave it an international voice. At that time the Social Democrats were part of the government and Erkki Tuomioja, a member of their left wing, was foreign minister.

The initial statement that Finland made indicated that it identified more with the Lebanese Hizballah terrorists than with the Israeli democracy. On 13 July 2006, Finland, which then held the EU’s rotating presidency, issued a statement on the EU’s behalf: “The European Union is greatly concerned about the disproportionate use of force by Israel in Lebanon in response to attacks by Hizballah on Israel. The presidency deplores the loss of civilian lives and the destruction of civilian infrastructure. The imposition of an air and sea blockade on Lebanon cannot be justified.”192 The EU softened its statement somewhat after the G8 meeting in St. Petersburg the following weekend.193

Tuomioja’s statement should not have come as a surprise. A year earlier British scholar Efraim Karsh had drawn attention to his positions on the Middle East conflict: “Tuomioja’s views are representative of a deeper undercurrent in contemporary European criticism of Israel, one that combines factual ignorance and misconceptions about the Arab-Israeli conflict with latent animosity borne out of the Continent’s millenarian legacy of anti-Semitism.194

A Holocaust Inverter

Karsh noted that, in an interview with the news magazine Suomen Kuvalehti in August 2001, Tuomioja denounced Israel’s attempts to protect its citizens from the terror war launched by Arafat’s Palestinian Authority in September 2000. Tuomioja compared Israeli defensive measures to the Nazi persecution of European Jewry: “It is quite shocking that some implement the same kind of policy toward the Palestinians which they themselves were victims of in the 1930s.” This position is one of several examples of Nordic socialist politicians inverting the Holocaust, thus manipulating the genocide of the Jews for their current political aims.195

Tuomioja, whose party is no longer part of the Finnish government, distorted facts on more occasions. In an interview with the same paper on 3 June 2005, he said that after the election of Mahmoud Abbas as Palestinian Authority president at the beginning of the year, “There are approximately as many roadblocks as before and all political prisoners that were promised to be freed have not been freed….”

Karsh commented: “There are no political prisoners in Israeli jails. All Palestinian prisoners whose release is demanded by the PA are either convicted terrorists, or suspected terrorists awaiting trial, or planners and perpetrators of other acts of violence. Of these, 500 were released on 21 February 2005, while another 400 were released four months later, on 2 June 2005.”196

Supporting Hatred of Israel

Also connected to anti-Israeli activities is the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs Development Corporation (FDC). NGO Monitor, in a detailed analysis, points to a variety of NGOs supported by the FDC that engage in anti-Israeli political activity, use language of demonization and incitement as well as apartheid rhetoric against Israel, and accuse it of ethnic cleansing while remaining silent about Palestinian terrorism.

NGO Monitor concludes that: “while a number of the NGOs supported by the FDC perform humanitarian development work, some recipients of Finnish government funding abuse their status for political campaigning and demonization of Israel.”197

Finland has also been subsidizing Palestinian textbooks that contain incitement. Former Dutch member of the European Parliament Rijk van Dam related how he and some colleagues approached EU commissioner Chris Patten, saying: “It cannot be that you send large amounts of money to the Palestinians who use school materials containing texts that are criminal under European laws.”

Patten replied, among other things, that “The EU does not pay for these books, you have to go to the member states who subsidize these.” Van Dam said: “Patten was right insofar as some member states indeed pay directly for the textbooks. Finland, for instance, contributes about seven million euros per year.”198

David and Goliath

Serah Beizer observed:

In the minds of many Finns the fate of Israel was often compared to the fate of Finland. A small state, surrounded by larger and stronger neighboring states, still succeeded to gain and retain independence—Israel as David. As in other countries, the Six Day War slowly but surely turned the image of Israel around 180 degrees. Israel became Goliath and the negative media reports on Israel the same as reports in the rest of Scandinavia.

She added: “As Mikael Enckell points out, the news items from Israel are reported in a distorted order. First the journalist tells how Israel ‘responded’ to the terror act, then about the terror act itself, thus creating an image that it is all Israel’s fault. Somewhat similar to the answer the young boy gives when scolded for biting his brother: ‘I bit him, because then he’ll hit me.’”199

Dr. Eero Kuparinen noted in a 2004 article in Turun Sanomat: “Anti- Semitism has gained from anti-Zionism, from opposition to Israel. The hatred of Jews has more and more also become the hatred of Israel. The state of Israel has been turned into the collective Jew of the world.”200

Enckell wrote: “Traditionally, many Lutheran priests opposed granting citizenship to Jews and still find it hard to come to terms with Israel. Archbishop Jukka Paarma said in 2002, that ‘our brothers in faith are first of all among the Palestinians’ and that ‘Israel’s deeds force the Christians in Finland to reconsider their traditional pro-Israeli stand.’”201

Beizer observed:

The official Church in Finland has not been too pro-Israel but there are indeed Lutheran Christians who openly sympathize with Israel and the Jews. As early as 1908, a “Friends of Israel” organization was established. According to its members, the fate of the Jews and later, the establishment of the state of Israel, were seen as the fulfillment of the words of the prophets.

Some of their members are indeed missionaries, believing that Jews have to convert to Christianity before the second coming of the Messiah, but the majority see the state of Israel as a miracle and as an important milestone in the history of mankind. Many Finnish Christian volunteers came to Israel in the 1960’s to volunteer on kibbutzim.

In 1971, a co-operative moshav (farming village) called Yad Hashmona was established in the Jerusalem Corridor by Finnish volunteers. The name of the moshav is in memory of eight Jewish refugees who were handed over to the Nazis in late 1942.202 During the Second Intifada in Israel, Finnish tourists, mostly believing Christians, continued to visit Israel in spite of warnings and terrorism. Many joined Finnish Jews in a large demonstration in support of Israel in the summer of 2006 during the Second Lebanon War.203

Beizer said Finnish Jews have indeed integrated, mentioning that in a report to the European Union on “Mapping Minorities and Their Media—Finland,” the authors described the minorities currently in Finland: “This introduction shortly presents the other so-called old minorities of Finland, the Jews, the Romany, the Tatars and the so-called ‘Old Russians.’… These three [sic] are the old migrant minorities.… We have included the media of the Romany and the Tatars in this mapping. The Jews are such an integrated minority that we have not included their media.”204

Anti-Semitic Incidents

Despite the rather quiet general situation for Jews in Finland, some anti-Semitic incidents have occurred over the years. In the late fall of 1992, windows of the synagogue in Turku were broken. This act was followed in July 1993 by vandalism at the Jewish graveyard in the same town. This incident was reported in the main papers.

A conclusion in the press stated: “A lone neo-Nazi did this and explained that ‘as a Nazi I should hate Jews.’” The reported added that: “Seemingly he has never had contacts with Jews.”205 The perpetrator was sent to prison for a year; later the punishment was suspended. In this case the Jewish community suggested giving the incident maximum coverage so as to stop the threats by a gang of young neo- Nazis.

In 2002, the Jewish community buildings in the center of Helsinki, where the kindergarten, school, synagogue, offices, and old-age home are located, had to be evacuated because of an anonymous telephone threat.206

The Second Lebanon War

The aforementioned report of the European Jewish Congress on anti-Semitic incidents during the Second Lebanon War contained several items about Finland. The report quoted Dan Kantor, executive secretary of the Central Council of Jewish Communities in Finland, saying that the atmosphere in the country did not exude aggression toward Finnish Jews. Parts of the Finnish population, however, manifested an anti-Israeli attitude.

The report noted:

Kantor also points out that most of the rhetoric and discourse observed was distinctly “anti-Israel,” but not “anti-Semitic.” Nevertheless, the community did track isolated anti-Semitic events and  acts,  mostly  in  the  form  of hate mails and phone calls directed to the Central Council itself. A major newspaper published a reader’s letter stating that Hitler should have finished his work—the Central Council of Jewish Communities immediately took legal action against this individual.207

The report also mentioned that “the Israel embassy received a number of letters, some of them anti-Semitic, attacking Jews directly for the death of children in Lebanon.” It further quoted Kantor:

a march in support of Israel in Helsinki gathered thousands, while marches in support of Lebanon were no larger than 400. Marginal extreme-left groups, often in cooperation with Islamic groups in a so-called “Peace Movement” held weekly small marches, where signs were observed equating the Star of David with Nazi symbols. Such groups make little distinction between Israel and local Finnish Jews.

Kantor added that this is “nothing new.”208

In 2007, the Helsinki Jewish community reported an incident of anti-Semitic content in a reader’s letter in two daily papers. The complaint reached the court and the offenders were punished.209

This volume contains two chapters on Finland. An interview with Serah Beizer deals with an issue that has reemerged in recent years: the treatment of Russian Jewish prisoners of war during World War II. A yet unknown number were handed over to the Germans. An essay by Gerald Steinberg analyzes Finnish support for Palestinian NGOs, including those that demonize Israel.


 The aspects of the Nordic countries highlighted in this essay, particularly Sweden and Norway, give a very different picture from the common humanitarian image their public diplomacy tries to convey. It is difficult to explain this discrepancy, which has been documented here and illustrated with many examples.

Why are parts of the Nordic elites sensitive to the needs of the Palestinians and blind to the profound, longstanding, and widespread genocidal intentions in their society? The more so as Palestinian leaders’ support for mass murder goes back at least seventy-five years, well before the Palestinians even claimed to be a nation. What makes governments ignore the demonizing character of Palestinian NGOs that they indirectly support? To what extent are these governments accomplices to the hate campaigns of these perpetrators?

What makes a significant number of important individuals and organizations in these countries pioneers of racist discriminatory actions that are contemporary mutations of the now more than two-millennia-old anti-Semitism? Societal elites in Sweden and Norway are far from alone in Europe in this regard, yet they are often ahead of other countries.

It is meaningless to be ranked among the leading countries for press freedom while voluntary biased reporting is rife. Informing without context, or simply deleting essential information or mixing ideology with news, can occur despite freedom of the press. One does not need government-controlled media dominated by official propaganda in order to intentionally present distorted coverage.

The past centuries have taught that demonization of the Jews cannot occur in isolation. Media cannot be biased only against Israel. Much of the journalism in these countries must have many other deep flaws that will come to the fore in other ways. The hatred and discrimination propagated by important actors tell much more about them and the countries in which they flourish than about the Jews and Israel.

We live in dynamic societies and it will not take many years before more people will start seeing through the holes in these countries’ humanitarian masks. Many of the above-cited “isolated incidents” concerning Israel and the Jews will then more accurately be seen in a much larger framework of false morality, invented moral superiority, and humanitarian racism.


  1. Global Peace Index, Vision of Humanity,
  3. Simon Wiesenthal Center—Israel Office, “Worldwide Investigation and Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals: An Annual Status Report,” August
  4. For Sweden, see Henrik Bachner, “Anti-Jewish Stereotypes in Swedish Public Discourse,” Engage 5 (September 2007), id=16&article_id=62.
  5. Yair Sheleg, “A World Cleansed of the Jewish State,” Haaretz, 18 April
  6. PerAhlmark, “Anti-Semitism, Anti-Americanism, Anti-Zionism: Is Therea Connection?” lecture presented at the international conference at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 11 August 2004,
  7. For a more detailed discussion of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, see Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Anti-Israelism and Anti-Semitism: Common Characteristics and Motifs,” Jewish Political Studies Review, V 19, Nos. 1&2 (Spring 2007): 83-108.
  8. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Bjarte Bruland and Irene Levin, “Norway: The Courage of a Small Jewish Community; Holocaust Restitution and Anti-Semitism,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism 10, 1 July
  9. “Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism,” Stationery Office , London, 2006.
  10. Michael Whine, “Progress in the Struggle against Anti-Semitism in Europe: The Berlin Declaration and the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia’s Working Definition of Anti-Semitism,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism 41, 1 February
  11. Etgar Lefkovitz, “German FM Blasts ‘New Anti-Semitism’ Clothed in Anti-Israel sentiments,” Jerusalem Post, 12 March
  12. Manfred Gerstenfeld, “The Autumn 2005 Riots in France: Their Possible Impact on Israel and the Jews,” JCPA, Jerusalem,
  13. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, “Confronting Israeli Realities with Dutch Ones,” European-Israeli Relations: Between Confusion and Change? (Jerusalem: JCPA, 2006), 160.
  14. See, g., the essay by Mikael Tossavainen in this volume.
  15. Per Ahlmark, “Palme’s Legacy 15 Years On,” Project Syndicate, February 2001; idem, “Det ar demokratin, dumbom!” (Stockholm: Timbro, 2004), 314. [Swedish]
  1. See the essay by Mikael Tossavainen in this
  2. See the essay by Erez Uriely in this
  3. Jostein Gaarder, “Guds utvalgte folk,” Aftenposten, 5 August [Norwegian]
  4. “USA Threats after Boycott Support,” Aftenposten, 12 January
  5. “LO-lederen vil ha fredsstyrker til Midtøsten,” Aftenposten, 1 May [Norwegian]
  6. “Oppvask i FrP etter Israel-boikott,” Adresseavisen, 15 December [Norwegian]
  7. “Avblåser boikott av Israel,” Aftenposten, 17 January [Norwegian]
  8. “Hamas Visit Splits Politicians,” Aftenposten, 16 May See also “Oslo Grants Visa to Hamas Lawmaker,” Jerusalem Post, 16 May 2006.
  9. “Norway-Hamas Link Angers Israel,” BBC News, 20 March 2007, uk/mpapps/pagetools/print/
  10. See
  11. Ilan Moss, “Anti-Semitic Incidents and Discourse in Europe during the Israel-Hizbollah War,” European Jewish Congress,
  12. “Norway Condemns Israeli Attacks on Lebanon,” Aftenposten, 13 July
  1. “Four Times More Crime in Oslo than New York,” Aftenposten, 9 March
  2. “99 out of 100 Thieves Go Free,” Aftenposten, 28 April
  3. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Jeffrey Gedmin, “Experiencing European Anti- Americanism and Anti-Israelism,” Israel and Europe: An Expanding Abyss? (Jerusalem: JCPA, 2005), 154.
  4. “Nobelkomiteen angrer på fredspris til Peres,” Aftenposten, 5 April [Norwegian]
  5. “Nobel’s Regrets on Peres Award,” BBC News, 5 April
  6. David Horovitz and Gil Hoffman, “Ten Years Later, Nobel Judges Stand by Arafat,” Jerusalem Post, 10 December 2004.
  1. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Dore Gold, “Europe’s Consistent Anti-Israeli Bias at the United Nations,” Israel and Europe: An Expanding Abyss?
  2. Robert Wistrich, “Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism: The Case of Bruno Kreisky,” Acta: Analysis of Current Trends in Antisemitism 30 (Vidal Sasson International Center for the Study of Antisemitism, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2007).
  3. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Fiamma Nirenstein, “The Cynical Use of Israel in Italian Politics,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism 58, 1 July
  4. “Willoch på studietur til Arafat,” Aftenposten, 28 April [Norwegian]
  5. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Robert Wistrich, “Something Is Rotten in the State of Europe: Anti-Semitism as a Civilizational Pathology,” Israel and Europe: An Expanding Abyss?
  6. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Josef Joffe, “Germany and Israel: Between Obligation, Taboo, and Resentment,” European-Israeli Relations: Between Confusion and Change?
  7. Typical Norwegian meatballs
  8. Bruce Bawer, While Europe Slept (New York: Broadway Books, 2006),
  9. See the essay by Efraim Zuroff in this
  10. See the essay by Serah Beizer in this
  11. “Academics Slam State History Agency ,” The Local, 2 April
  12. Moss, “Anti-Semitic ”
  13. “Progress Party Boss Caught in Rocket Attack,” Aftenposten, 28 February
  14. “Embassy Hit by Bomb Threat,” Aftenposten, 11 February
  15. Nina Berglund, “Insurgents Threaten Norway,” Aftenposten, 9 January
  16. Arild Jonassen and Nina Berglund, “Extremists Target Local Youth,” Aftenposten, 4 February 2008.
  17. Kjetil Olsen and Nina Berglund, “Three Charged with Financing Terrorist Activity,” Aftenposten, 28 February 2008.
  1. “Terror Suspects Arrested in Sweden,” The Local, 28 February
  2. The Jewish People Policy Planning Institute Annual Assessment 2004-2005: Between Thriving and Decline (Jerusalem: Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, 2005).
  3. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Bjarte Bruland and Irene
  4. Moshe Yegar,  Neutral  Policy—Theory  versus  Practice:  Swedish-Israeli  Relations (Jerusalem: Israel Council on Foreign Relations, 1993), 126.
  1. Ibid., 127.
  2. Ibid., 128.
  3. Ibid., 147.
  4. See the interview with Zvi Mazel in this
  5. Per Ahlmark, Det öppna såret (Timbro: Stockholm, 1997), [Swedish].
  6. Moshe Erel, Tzilinder veCherev (Jerusalem: Ruben Mass, 2002), [Hebrew] 62.  Ibid., 176.
  7. Ibid., 178.
  8. Ibid., 178.
  9. See the interview with Zvi Mazel in this
  1. Salomo Berlinger, Stefan Meisels, Torsten Press, and Willy Salomon, “Sweden Can Do Much More for Country’s Jewish Community,” Haaretz, 10 June
  2. Simon Wiesenthal Center, Press Release, “SWC Protests Anti-Israel Vote by France, Sweden, Austria, Spain, Belgium and Portugal at UN Commission on Human Rights,” 16 April
  3. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Oded Eran, “Israel and the European Union,” European-Israeli Relations: Between Confusion and Change?
  4.  Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Oded Eran, “Israel and the European Union,”European-Israeli Relations: Between Confusion and Change? 16.
  5. See the interview with Zvi Mazel in this volume
  6. Gil Hoffman, “Swedish FM Likens Netanyahu to Hamas,” Jerusalem Post, 10 April
  9. /
  10. Ahlmark, “Anti-Semitism.”
  11. “Tearful Ambassador Alerted Sweden to Tsunami,” The Local, 15 June
  12. Erel, Tzilinder,
  13. “Sweden Can No Longer Defend Itself,” The Local, 15 May
  14. “UN Torture Committee Criticizes Sweden,” The Local, 20 May
  15. Thomas Gür “Demokratin lever trots alla år av hot,” Svenska Dagbladet, 17 May [Swedish]
  16. See the interview with Zvi Mazel in this
  17. Ahlmark,“Det är demokratin,”
  18. “Mp framåt bland journalister,” Sveriges Radio-Ekot, 25 April [Swedish]
  19. Bachner, “Anti-Jewish Stereotypes,” php?journal_id=16&article_id=62.
  20. Erel, Tzilinder,
  21. Henrik Bachner and Lars Andersson, “Ta avstånd från antisemitismen,” Expressen, 27 December 2005. [Swedish]
  23. NGO Monitor, 16 February 2006,
  24. “Swedish Aid Slammed by Auditor,” The Local, 2 October.The press release from the launching can be found at sida.asp?sidID=18.
  25. The press release from the launching can be found at sida.asp?sidID=18.
  28. Personal communication, Margalit
  29. Gunnar Hökmark, “Vill Diakonia fostra till antisemitism?” Gotlands Allehanda, 5 June [Swedish]
  30. For a more detailed discussion of Luther’s attitude toward the Jews, see Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Hans Jansen, “The Historical Roots of the Anti-Israel Positions of Liberal Protestant Churches,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism 57, 1 June
  32. Raphael Israeli, Fundamentalist Islam and Israel (Lanham, MD: JCPA, University Press of America, 1993), 132-59.
  33. Cnaan Liphshiz, “Sweden Accused of Persecuting Civil Servant for Pro-Israel Views,” Haaretz, 20 February 2008.
  34. Ibid.
  35. Henrik Bachner, “La Suède,” in Manfred Gerstenfeld and Shmuel Trigano, , Les habits neufs de l’antisémitisme en Europe (Île de Noirmoutier: Éditions Café Noir, 2004), 187-98.[French]
  36. Ibid.,189-90.
  37. Ibid., 188.
  38. Moss, “Anti-Semitic Incidents,”
  39. Ibid.
  40. “Stor demonstration mot Israel,” se, 6 August 2006, http://tv4nyheterna. se/1.64121/nyheter/2006/08/06/stor_demonstration_mot_israel. [Swedish]
  41. “Utredning om hakkors nedlagd,” Aftonbladet, 13 December 2006, aftonbladet. se/malmolund/article466164.ab. [Swedish]
  42. Moss, “Anti-Semitic  Incidents”
  43. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Yehuda Bauer, “From Propagating Myths to Holocaust Research: Preparing for an Education,” Europe’s Crumbling Myths (Jerusalem: JCPA, 2003), 117, &LNGID=1&TMID=111&FID=253&PID=0&IID=649&TTL=From_Propagating_ Myths_to_Research:_Preparing_for_Holocaust_Education.
  44. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Avi Beker, “Restitution Issues Destroy National Myths,”Europe’s Crumbling Myths
  45. See the essay by Efraim Zuroff in this volume
  46. ‘Efraim Zuroff, “Vi har dussintal okända namn,” Aftonbladet, 23 February 2000 [Swedish]. See also the essay by Efraim Zuroff in this volume
  47. Efraim Zuroff, “Vi har dussintal okända namn,” Aftonbladet, 23 February 2000 [Swedish]. See also the essay by Efraim Zuroff in this volume
  48. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Avi
  49. Gerard Aalders and Cees Wiebes, Zaken doen tot elke prijs (The Hague: SDU, 1990),
  50. Prime Minister’s Office, Press Release, “Prime Minister Göran Persson Comments on the Wallenberg Report,” 12 January
  51. Sven Fredrik Hedin and Goran Elgemry, “Sweden’s Financial Links to Nazi Germany,” in Avi Beker, , The Plunder of Jewish Property during the Holocaust: Confronting European History (Hampshire: Palgrave, 2001), 207-08.
  52. Ibid.
  53. Later Persson expressed apologies for Sweden’s wartime behavior during the Stockholm conference in January 2000.
  54. ID=111&FID=253&PID=0&IID=694&TTL=Norway:_The_Courage_of_a_Small_ Jewish_Community;_Holocaust_Restitution_and_Anti-Semitism
  55. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Bjarte Bruland and Irene
  56. Anders Giæver, “Mediemenerne,” Verdens Gang, 5 April [Norwegian]
  57. “USA Threats ”
  58. “Forsvarsministeren krevde Israel-boikott,”        Dagsavisen,    11    January      [Norwegian]
  59. “LO-lederen vil ha fredsstyrker til Midtøsten,” Aftenposten, 1 May [Norwegian]
  60. “Avblåser boikott av Israel,” Aftenposten, 17 January [Norwegian]
  61. Simon Wiesenthal Center, Press Release, “Wiesenthal Center to Norwegian Prime Minister: ‘Quisling Returns to Oslo,’” 28 December
  62. NTB, “AUFgjentar krav   om   boikott   av   Israel,”   Aftenbladet,  2   March   [Norwegian]
  63. “Vil ha Vanunu til Norge,Klassekampen, 12 October [Norwegian]
  64. Personal communication, Yael
  65. Tovah Lazaroff, “Far from Academic,” Jerusalem Post, 2 May
  66. For a detailed description of the Harbitz case, see Manfred Gerstenfeld, Academics against Israel and the Jews (Jerusalem: JCPA, 2007), 63-66.
  67. NGO Monitor, Government Funding Analysis: Norway, ngo-monitor.rg/article/ 
  68. Ibid.
  70. “Peace Now får norske skattepenger for å overvåke jødiske bosetninger,” Karmel Israel- Nytt 7, 1-15 April 2008, [Norwegian]
  71. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview  with  Michael  Melchior,  “The  Israeli  Government, Holocaust Issues and Anti-Semitism,” Europe’s Crumbling Myths
  72. Leo Eitinger, Mennesker blant mennesker: En bok om antisemittisme og fremmedhat(Oslo: J. W. Cappelens Forlag A.S., 1985), 117. [Norwegian]
  73. Ibid., 119.
  74. Ibid.
  75. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Bjarte Bruland and Irene
  76. Nina Berglund, “Government Catches Flak,” Aftenposten, 7 April
  77. Moss, “Anti-Semitic ”
  78. Simon Wiesenthal Center, Press Release, “Two-Thirds of Norwegian Respondents to Centre’s ‘Open Letter’ Support Israel and the Battle against Antisemitism,” 14 August
  79. Hili Hansen, “Criticism of Israel and the ‘New’ Anti-Semitism,” seminar paper, spring Thanks are due to her for making this unpublished paper available
  80. “Norway Apologizes over Muhammad Cartoons,” DhimmiWatch, 28 January
  81. “Flag-Burning No Longer Illegal,” Aftenposten, 12 February
  82. Dennis Prager, “First They Came for Israel, Then They Came forAmerica,” com, 7 February 2006,
  83. Camilla Ryste, “UD:- Sjokkerende og uakseptabel hjernevasking av unger,” Verdens Gang, 26 February [Norwegian]
  84. (the official royal website).
  85. Interview with Elsebeth  Frey  Leif  Gjerstad,  no,  15  September  2006. [Norwegian]
  86. “Royal Tribute as Auschwitz Survivor Is Laid to Rest,” Aftenposten, 12 March
  87. Magne Vågnes, “Tør ikke  tegne Muhammed,”  Magazinet,  9  January  2006,    [Norwegian]
  88. “Norwegian Press Won’t Touch Mohammad Cartoons,” Aftenposten, 13 February
  89. Bjørn Westlie, “Coming to Terms with the Past: The Process of Restitution of Jewish Property in Norway,” Policy Forum 12, November 1996 (Institute of the World Jewish Congress).
  90. Ibid., 10.
  91. Ibid., 12.
  92. Janine Beulink, “Berit Reisels gevecht in Noorwegen,”  NIW, 12 December  [Dutch]
  93. Ibid.
  94. Ibid.
  95. Personal communication, Berit
  96. See the interview with Bjarte Bruland in this volume
  97. Personal communication, Berit
  98. Ibid.
  99. Richard Chesnoff, Pack of Thieves (New York: Doubleday, 1999), 112-13.
  100. Beulink, “Berit  Reisels.”
  101. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Israel Singer, “Restitution: The Second Round,”Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism 14, 2 November 2003.
  102. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Avi Beker, 169-70.4
  103. “Unique Holocaust Center,” Aftenposten, 23 August
  104. Avi Shmoul, “Danish Union Calls for Israel Boycott,” Haaretz, 18 April
  105. Herb Keinon, “Danish FM: Ze’evi Murder Same as Targeted Killings,” Jerusalem Post, 19 October 2001.
  106. Steven Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism, Tel Aviv University, Antisemitism Worldwide 2004, denmark.htm
  107. Itamar Marcus and Barbara Cook, “Netherlands and Denmark Fund Terror Glorification, Hate Language of Palestinian News Agency,” Palestinian Media Watch, 4 April 2008.
  108. Anders-Peter Mathiasen, “Krænkelser,” Journalisten, 1 March 2006, journalisten. dk/kraenkelser [Danish]; full Danish text:
  109. Steven Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism, Tel Aviv University, Antisemitism Worldwide 2006, denmark.htm.
  110. Ibid.
  111. Manfred Gerstenfeld, “The Mohammed-Cartoon Controversy, Israel and the Jews: A Case Study,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism 43, 2 April
  112. Flemming Rose, “Why I Published Those Cartoons,” Washington Post, 19 February
  113. Hassan Fatah, “At Mecca Meeting, Cartoon Outrage Crystallized,” New York Times, 9 February 2006.
  114. “Chronik der Proteste gegen die Mohammed-Karikaturen,” Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 6 February [German]
  115. Nasser Karimi, “Iran President Lashes Out at S., Europe,” LA Daily News, 12 February 2006.
  116. Associated Press, “Developments in Cartoon Controversy,” New York Times, 13 February
  117. “Observers Remove Equipment from Hebron after Riot,” Jerusalem Post, 11 February
  118. Adrien Jaulmes, “Caricatures: Le malaise des chrétiens libanais,” Le Figaro,11 February [French]
  119. Associated Press, “Iran Blames S., Europe in Cartoon Crisis,” New York Times, 12 February 2006.
  120. “Caricatures: Copenhague ferme plusieurs ambassades,” Figaro, 12 February [French]
  121., 13 February 2006.
  122. “Arla Foods Hit by Middle East Boycott after Cartoons Row,” The Local, 7 April
  123. Moss, “Anti-Semitic Incidents ”
  124. Ibid.
  125. Efraim Zuroff, “Aerligt opgør giver hab,” Berlingske Tidende, 16 February [Danish]
  126. Andrew Osborn, “Denmark Urged to Reveal Long List of Nazi Collaborators,” The Guardian, 28 August
  127. Letter from Simon Wiesenthal Center to Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, 18 July
  128. Letter from Danish culture minister Brian Mikkelsen, 14 September
  129. “Russian Defense Minister Says Hizballah Uses ‘Terrorist Methods,’” Haaretz, 15 July
  130. Yossi Lempkowicz, “EU Softens Stance on Israeli Action against Hezbollah,” European Jewish Press, 17 July
  131. Efraim Karsh, “European Misreading of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Finnish Foreign Minister Tuomioja—A Case Study,” Israel Issue Briefs, V 4, No. 27, 12 July 2005, ID=111&FID=443&PID=0&IID=555&TTL=European_Misreading_of_the_Israeli- Palestinian_Conflict:_Finnish_Foreign_Minister_Tuomioja_-_A_Case_Study.
  132. Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Holocaust Inversion: The Portraying of Israel and Jews as Nazis,” Post Holocaust and Anti-Semitism 55, 1 April 1007.
  133. Karsh, “European Misreading”
  134. NGO Monitor, 6 March 2006,
  135. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Rijk van Dam, “Anti-Israeli Bias in the European Parliament and Other EU Institutions,” European-Israeli Relations: Between Confusion and Change?
  136. Quoted in Mikael Enckell, Uppror och efterföljelse, Essäer (Helsingfors: Söderströms, 2004), 14. [Swedish]
  137. See “Dosentti Eero Kuparisen aliokirjoitus: Antisemitismi on saanut lisäpontta Israel- vastaisuudesta,” Turun Sanomat, 22 April [Finnish]
  138. Enckell, Uppror, 9
  139. See
  140. See, g.,
  141. “Mapping Minorities and Their Media: The National Context—Finland,” Åbo Akademi, d., 1.
  142. See Enckell, Uppror, 8
  143. “Manifestations of Anti-Semitism in the European Union,” unreleased report of the EUMC,
  144. Moss, “Anti-Semitic Incidents,” 19
  145. Ibid.
  146. See report from 9 January 2007,


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