Manfred Gerstenfeld on The Anti-Jewish Riots in Oslo, by Eirik Eiglad

, April 17, 2010

Jewish Political Studies Review 22:1-2 (Spring 2010)

This small book – an essay of about twenty thousand words – describes a situation in 2009 about which the author says:

“As far as I can judge, these were the largest anti-Jewish riots in Norwegian history. Even before and during World War II, when anti-Semitic prejudices were strong, public policies were discriminatory, and the Nazified State Police efficiently confiscated Jewish property and deported Jews on that despicable slave ship SS Donau – even then, Norway had not seen anti-Jewish outbursts of this scale. This country had no previous history of wanton anti-Jewish mass violence. (67)”

The book covers a period of four days – 8-11 January 2009 – and also includes some later reflections about what Eiglad witnessed. In the first paragraph he writes: “I never thought I would live to see anti-Jewish riots in the Norwegian capital.” The author, who lives outside Oslo, notes that he writes from a leftist perspective: “I am a social-ecologist, believing in direct democracy, the Enlightenment and a libertarian form of socialism” (9).

Eiglad also mentions that, through two left-wing bodies, Blitz and Anti-Fascist Action, he had participated “in mobilizations against neo-Nazis and other fascists in Sweden, Germany, Denmark as well as Norway. I’ve engaged in street fighting” (41).

As the anti-Israeli incitement in Norway by much of the so-called “progressive elite,” the anti-Semitism there, and the hate manifestations get little attention abroad, it is best first to relate the essence of the author’s story. Eiglad was visiting Oslo on Thursday, 8 January, a cold day with icy winds, when two demonstrations against the Gaza war took place. There was also a pro-Israeli demonstration; the participants were gathered in a fenced-off area, protected by the police, while Hamas supporters were throwing bottles and small rocks at them (18).

Eiglad, who was standing outside this area, was attacked by a number of what he calls “first- and second-generation” immigrants who thought he was pro-Israeli or, even worse, a Jew. It is not considered politically correct in Norway to be more precise and call the attackers “violent Muslims.”

Later the author watched a demonstration in “favor of peace,” in which about ten thousand people participated. Some of them shouted “Kill the Jews” or “Slaughter the Jews” in Arabic. A leaflet handed out suggested that people “empty their trash outside the synagogue” and “place pig heads on the cemetery.” The chairperson and the rabbi of the Jewish community, Anne Sender and Yoav Melchior were insulted and left the gathering (31-32).

After there were calls to burn the Israeli embassy, a number of demonstrators went over to the building but found it heavily guarded. They then smashed the windows of a nearby beauty salon that belongs to a well-known homosexual (35). In addition, several pro-Israeli people were beaten up or injured. Eiglad titles the chapter dealing with that Thursday, “I Have Seen the Future.”

He relates that the next day, the daily Dagbladet’s website showed a video of youths kicking to the ground a seventy-three-year-old man, Sverre Martin Haug, who was carrying an Israeli flag, while shouting “Bloody Jew – get him!”[1] Two young Muslims rescued Haug, and the other Muslim youths stopped attacking him because they realized that he was a non-Jewish Norwegian (32).

Two days later a pro-Palestinian demonstration took place. In addition to Muslims, many socialists also participated. Kristin Halvorsen, the leader of the Socialist Left Party, who was then finance minister and is now education minister, was also present. Eiglad says that when he passed her she was standing close to somebody with a placard proclaiming “The greatest axis of evil, USA and Israel.” Pictures documenting this have since appeared in several dailies.[2]

Afterward, thousands joined a march to the Israeli embassy. The author tells how many shouted “Death to the Jews!” in Arabic. Others screamed “Blow the embassy up!” or even “Gas the embassy!” An Israeli flag was burned. Placards equated then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert with Hitler, or flaunted the word Israel with the S turned into a swastika. The “militants” had children standing between them and the police, using the human-shields method employed by the Palestinians.

In the riots that followed, McDonald’s restaurants and other shops were attacked and partially destroyed (53). These places were targeted because a false rumor had been spread on the Internet that all money McDonald’s would take in that day would be sent to Israel.

These riots exemplify how the Muslim community and their allies now operate in Western Europe. The aim is to dominate the public domain and destroy anything Israeli or Jewish there. Hence the calls for the murder of Jews and the equation of Israel with the Nazis, while the Muslim leaders who are present remain silent. Various leftists support the violent Muslims more or less actively. Although the Norwegian press has initially denied that there is any significant anti-Semitism in Norway, after this development they can hardly do so. At present, the Norwegian apologists who are in denial try to blame what happened solely on “immigrants,”[3] but it is only a matter of time before it will no longer be possible to deny the Norwegian component of the hate and incitement against Jews. Much of this hate-targeting takes the form of anti-Israelism.

The ideological hate and violence of part of the Muslim immigrants in several European countries often focuses initially on the small domestic Jewish communities. But it rarely stops there, especially because this behavior is usually not punished and hence is further encouraged. Such was also the case in Oslo.

In February 2010, after a Norwegian paper had published a defamatory cartoon about Muhammad, a thousand Muslim taxi drivers blocked the center of Oslo near Akersgata where the offices of many media are located. On Friday, 12 February, a protest gathering of some 2,500 participants also took place near the parliament building. Muslims knelt in public prayer, once again affirming their space in the public domain.

One speaker, Mohyeldeen Mohammad – of Iraqi origin, who studies in Saudi Arabia – forecast a 9/11-type attack against Norway; he later called for the murder of all homosexuals.[4] When Dagbladet wanted to interview Mohammad a few days later, he threatened the journalists that they would be killed.[5] Several Muslim leaders condemned him. They grasped that attacking Jews can go largely unpunished but that upsetting larger parts of Norwegian society is potentially more dangerous.

It has now also emerged that one of the out-of-town participants in the pro-Israeli demonstration of 8 January 2009 was maimed for life. Jon Gunnar Aksnes related that he had been beaten with a flagpole, and subsequently by another gang with truncheons. When he went back to his bus, bleeding, a reporter for the notoriously anti-Israeli state television NRK saw that he was hurt and had the camera turned on him. When he told them who had attacked him, the reporter rapidly had the camera turned away.[6]

One of the internationally best-known Norwegians is the anti-Semite and wartime prime minister Vidkun Quisling, whose name has also become a synonym for “traitor” in many languages. The time has come for a study of how elements of this ugly national heritage have persisted, reemerged, or mutated in various sectors of contemporary Norwegian society.

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[1] Harald S. Klungtveit, “Ta Ham! Jaevla jøde!” Dagbladet, 9 January 2009. [Norwegian]

[2] Bjørn Gabrielsen, “En smak av egen medesin,” Dagens Naeringslev, 2 April 2009 [Norwegian], picture. by Scanpix; Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Antisemittisme i Norge,” Dagbladet, 5 April 2009. [Norwegian]

[3] Harald Stanghelle, “En minoritet I fare?” Aftenposten, 6 January 2010. [Norwegian]

[4] “Forsvarer drap på homophile,” NRK, 16 February 2010. [Norwegian]

[5] Arve Bartnes and Eugene Brandal Laran, “Det er Folk på vei for å skyte dere nå,” Dagbladet, 17 February 2010. [Norwegian]

[6] Ove Eikje, “Merket for Live av Gaza demonstranter,” Dagen, 18 February  2010. [Norwegian]

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DR. MANFRED GERSTENFELD is chairman of the Board of Fellows of the JCPA and an editor of JPSR.

About Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is former Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, where he founded and directed the Center's Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism program. Dr. Gerstenfeld is an international business and environmental strategist. Dr. Gerstenfeld is the author of many books including Revaluing Italy; Environment and Confusion; Israel's New Future Interviews; The State as Business: Do It Yourself Political Forecasting; Judaism, Environmentalism and the Environment; and The Environment in the Jewish Tradition-A Sustainable World. His latest book, Europe's Crumbling Myths exposes the origins of post-Holocaust anti-Semitism.