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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Jew-Hatred in Contemporary Norwegian Caricatures

Filed under: Anti-Semitism, Europe and Israel
Publication: Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism

  • Many Norwegian journalists and leaders espouse the traditional mainstream European anti-Jewish attitudes. Norwegian anti-Semitism does not come from the grassroots but from the leadership – politicians, organization leaders, church leaders, and senior journalists. It does not come from Muslims but from the European-Christian society.
  • Despite the fact that the Norwegian law and constitution grant freedom of religion to everyone, Norway is one of the few countries in the world where Jewish ritual slaughter (shechita) of animals is forbidden. The ban was introduced three years before the Nazis took power in Germany and continues till today, whereas Muslim ceremonial slaughter (hallal) is permitted.
  • Over the past thirty years, Norwegian media caricatures have sustained a high level of demonization of Jews and the state of Israel. These include portraying Jews as heartless, peace-hating, enemies of humanity, Nazi, bloodthirsty, child-killers, and controllers of the world. This trend has been rapidly increasing over the past years.

Anti-Semitism’s Christian Origins

The notion of anti-Semitism in today’s Norway may seem strange. The country is often portrayed as a calm and universally friendly corner of the European continent. Although Norway may have a record as a humanitarian peacemaker, mainly due to the Nobel Peace Prize that the Swede Alfred Nobel financed and Norway awards, many of its journalists and leaders espouse the traditional mainstream European anti-Jewish attitudes. Norwegian anti-Semitism does not come from the grassroots but from the leadership – politicians, organization leaders, church leaders, and senior journalists. It does not come from Muslims but from the European-Christian society.


Historical Background

Historically, anti-Semitism appeared early in Norway. Around 1000 CE, centuries before Jews came to Norway, Christianity was introduced there along with the concomitant theological anti-Semitism.1 That suggests that the reason for anti-Semitism was not anything the Jews did, but Christianity. Although Jews and Judaism were not directly outlawed at that time, in 1025 King Olav introduced a law requiring the people in the kingdom to be Christians.

In 1436, Archbishop Aslak Bolt forbade the practice of Shabbat in a Jewish manner.2 In 1569, the Danish king Fredrik II, who also ruled Norway, introduced a law demanding that all subjects either follow the Evangelical Lutheran faith or leave the country within three days; otherwise their property would be confiscated and they would be executed.

In 1620, the first Jews were allowed to reside in Norway. In 1651, however, Jews were forbidden to travel in the kingdom.3

Although the attitude toward Jews varied over time, it was never the same as toward Christians. In 1670, Jews were allowed entrance to the kingdom if they paid enough money and proved able to improve its economy. This was true for Denmark and Sweden as well.


A Ban on Jews

When the Norwegian National Assembly in 1814 drafted its modern constitution ostensibly based on the principles of the French and American revolutions, a clause was inserted stating that Jews and Jesuits were not to be admitted to the country. This was stipulated in the second paragraph of the document. That so-called “Jewish paragraph” was annulled in 1851 after a long struggle led by the national poet, Henrik Wergeland.

As European anti-Semitism intensified during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Norwegians were quick to learn from it and put it into practice. The country’s newspapers actively propagandized against the Jews. For example, in 1930 Aftenposten, Norway’s most important paper, ran an article on its editorial pages about “the Jew sucking through his drinking straw into the nation’s glass.” In 1933, seven years before the Germans occupied Norway, Aftenposten editor Johannes Nesse expressed his understanding for the Nazi attitude toward the Jews and asked “not to show them exaggerated sympathy.”


Ritual Slaughter Forbidden

Getting rid of the Jews was not an alien notion to the Norwegians, who heard their parliamentarians and ministers propounding racialist theory and expressing anti-Semitic ideas. In 1929, Member of Parliament Jens Hundseid told the parliament that: “We haven’t invited the Jews to our land and we have no obligation to hand over animals to them for their religious orgies.”4 Soon after, the Jewish ritual slaughter (shechita) of animals was forbidden.

In principle, the Norwegian law and constitution grant freedom of religion to everyone. In practice, the one exception is the Jews. Norway is one of the few countries in the world where shechita is still banned. In Germany, shechita was forbidden only during the Nazi period. In Norway, however, the ban was introduced three years before the Nazis took power in Germany and continues till today, whereas Muslim ceremonial slaughter (hallal) is permitted. Compassion for animals does not explain the ban on shechita, since hunting is permitted and popular in Norway. About 150,000 people (3 percent of the population) are registered hunters;5 hunted prey often suffers a much slower and more painful death than in Jewish ritual slaughter.

When Hundseid became prime minister (1932-1933), he stated in a speech in the parliament: “Many of those foreigners who come to our country are of an inferior race. Their heredity is bad, but their reproduction is very virile and fast. Our race suffers because of this immigration.”6 Hundseid was intensely anti-Semitic and clearly directed these words at the Jews. However, anti-Judaism was a part of Norwegian racism. In 1934, his party member Erling Bjørnson proposed and led the parliamentary debate on a new law of forced sterilization,7 which was practiced by the Norwegian government during the years 1934-1977.

Forced sterilization was part of the plan to improve the Norwegian race, which was Germanic and Aryan. At that time, racial theory and hygiene were common in European culture. The Gypsies were considered to be inferior and in Norway, to prevent the “contamination of the race,” they were subjected to forced sterilizations. So were “mentally weak” ethnic Norwegians. The Norwegian government and church also implemented an “assimilation policy” aimed at creating a single, “healthy” Norwegian people. Minorities such as the Gypsies and the Sámi (Lapps) suffered oppression, and their children were forcibly separated from their families and sent to be raised “as Norwegians.”8

It was in Hundseid’s government that Vidkun Quisling was appointed defense minister. Quisling later founded the Norwegian Nazi Party, Nasjonal Samling, in which Hundseid also became a member until 1945. After the war Quisling became the scapegoat for treason and with his trial and execution, Norway was “cleansed.”


Contemporary Recycling of Anti-Semitism

Many anti-Semitic caricatures that have flourished in recent years in all the major Norwegian newspapers recycle traditional anti-Jewish motifs. In some cases the link between past and present goes deeper. When the bells of the Oslo Cathedral ring, not everyone can enjoy the sound because its bell chime was financed by a Norwegian Nazi veteran, Ørnulf Myklestad,9 who apparently never changed his mind about the Jews. He also contributed to publishing The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Norwegian.10

In 2002, the Simon Wiesenthal Center listed Norway as one of the countries that did little to investigate, let alone prosecute, the Nazi war criminals.11 The Norwegian Defense Ministry authorized in 1988 the obliteration of an archive containing information on the Norwegian people and organizations sympathizing with communists or Nazis.12 The archive was erased in 1994 when the World Jewish Congress and Bjørn Westlie, a journalist for the Norwegian business daily Dagens Næringsliv, were gathering information on Nazism and the Jewish property plundered in Norway.

As the issue of Nazism was covered up, the Norwegian media continued to criticize Israel. The assertion that criticism of Israel differs from anti-Semitism is largely used as an excuse to avoid recognizing anti-Semitism and defend its continued practice. In reality, much criticism of Israel has an anti-Semitic character.13

Common Norwegian citizens should not be allowed to evade their responsibility with the claim that they cannot control the media. Had enough Norwegians complained to the newspapers about anti-Semitic expressions, the phenomenon would have vanished in a short time. Norwegians, however, do not complain or take responsibility, and many agree with the message in the caricatures.


Caricatures and Mass Communication

After World War II, Jew-hatred receded in Norway. It resurfaced, however, in the 1970s when the Norwegian media spread propaganda about the Jews’ alleged atrocities against the Palestinian Arabs.

Over the past thirty years, Norwegian media caricatures have sustained a high level of demonization of Jews and the state of Israel. Although not as crude as Arab ones,14 Norwegian caricatures use many of the same motifs. These originated in Europe and including portraying Jews as heartless, peacehating, enemies of humanity, Nazi, bloodthirsty, child-killers, and controllers of the world.15 Only a small sample of these depictions will be presented below.

No other means of conveying a message to the public works more swiftly and effectively than pictures, drawings, and caricatures. Christian Europe has used them to demonize Jews for centuries.16 The technique was perfected by German ingenuity, helping lay the groundwork for the Holocaust. Jews were depicted as scoundrels, parasites, and vermin who threatened Germany and the civilized world, and could be dealt with only by destroying them.

The Holocaust revealed that centuries of Christian17 anti-Semitism had mentally prepared almost every country of Europe, including Norway, for the task of collecting their Jews to have them looted, deported, and killed. Many people actively contributed to the endeavor; the masses generally remained passive and did not protest.


Rejecting the Holocaust by Silence

After the Holocaust, the Germans took some important measures to fight anti-Semitism. But in Norway, both the citizens and the government have tried to reject their responsibility for the Holocaust. As a result, many Norwegian Jews are apprehensive about today’s anti-Semitism, remembering how it built up in the past. Most of the Jews maintain a low profile, and some feel the need to join the critics of Israel.

Before World War II, some Norwegians would paint the words “Palestine calling” on Jewish-owned shops. The Nazi occupiers were assisted even by ordinary citizens in locating the Norwegian Jews to be sent to the extermination camps. Today, many Norwegians in demonstrations chant “Jews out of Palestine” – the ostensibly moral demand to “end the Israeli occupation.”

After the war, some Norwegian politicians, especially from the Labor movement, supported Israel’s fight for existence. Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six Day War made the Jews of Israel popular in Norway. Soon, however, the situation began to deteriorate as pro-Arab sentiment grew. More recently, Norway has granted billions of Norwegian Crowns (more than half a billion USD until 2005) to the Palestinian Authority (PA). It has supported it politically, among other things, by bestowing the Nobel Peace Price on its then leader Yasser Arafat.

On 21 July 2006, while Hizballah was firing at Jewish civilians from the north and Hamas from the south, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg declared that Norway would give 100 million Norwegian Crowns each (approximately 160 million USD) to Lebanon and the PA.18 Such pronouncements and measures send a signal to the people, from the highest level, about who the victims and the aggressors are.

After the Holocaust, Jews both in Israel and the Diaspora believed the establishment of a Jewish state would put an end to anti-Semitism. Instead, to a large extent Israel became its target, facilitating even more intensified allegations. In addition, criticism of the Jews no longer comes exclusively from the Church or individuals but also from governments, Norway’s being a prominent case.

The contempt for the Jews that led to the Holocaust is still very much alive in Norway. To justify their hatred, some now argue that the “Zionists” actually behave worse than the Nazis did: they “occupy Palestinian land,” “oppress the Palestinians,” and “kill children,” just as the Nazis did in Norway and the rest of Europe. Such comparisons flourish and serve to cleanse the conscience of Norwegians and other Europeans, who today support the Arabs even as many of them strive to fulfill Europe’s unfinished Holocaust.


Caricatures as a Means of Hatred

The following examples of caricatures have been divided into eleven groups according to their message.


1. The World Is under Jewish Pressure

Image 1: Poland, 1938 (Propagandowy Kalendarz Poznan; a propaganda calendar from the city of Poznan).

Image 2: “Under the Jewish Pressure” (caricature by Inge Grødum, Aftenposten, 5 December 2001).

The similarity between these two caricatures is startling: the Christian Europeans as the former “victims” of the Jews have been replaced by the Muslim Arabs. The Jew is depicted as a heavy burden on society. The former “Jewish pressure on Christian society” has shifted to the “Palestinian Arab people.”

Both pictures try to show how the Jew callously strangles his victim. His closed eyes indicate animosity, his forehead is wrinkled and unpleasant. The conservative Aftenposten is Norway’s leading newspaper.


2. The Problem Is Judaism

Image 3: Syria, 2000 ( Tishreen, 19 April 2000).19

Hitler’s Mein Kampf and Nazi propaganda in general encouraged hatred of Judaism and communism and declared total war on both. Mein Kampf was swiftly translated and distributed in the Arab world, long before the Holocaust. Even today, many Arabs regard Hitler’s ideas as the ideal solution to the “Jewish problem.” In television, books, newspapers, and speeches, Arab leaders often claim that the problem with Jews stems from their traditional texts.

Image 4: “The Seven Synonyms of Death” (caricature by Dave Coverly, Dagsavisen, 7 January 2004).

“Murder, kill, liquidate, execute” and so on are, according to the Labor movement’s newspaper, a modern version of the Ten Commandments. The Norwegian media often use the Bible against Israel and its religious-Christian supporters. Although the means are sophisticated and subtle, the message is clear: it is Judaism that causes Israelis to murder Palestinians.


3. The Jews Rule the World

Image 5: Austria, 1920 – “Juda” (Karl Paumgarten, Graz).

Image 6: Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon rules the world (caricature by Herbjørn Skogstad, Oppland Arbeiderblad, 18 September 2003).

In both caricatures the Jew rules the world and the victims have no choice but to obey. The Jew manipulates the Christians like puppets and turns them against the Muslims (note the Arab keffiyeh, which in Norway has become a symbol for the PLO).

Here the face of the Jew expresses no feelings. He is merciless and preoccupied with money and control. The faceless Jew’s “invisible hand” (marked “Sharon” and with a Star of David) controls Norwegian foreign minister Jan Petersen (i.e., the Christians). Being under Jewish control, the Europeans can only oppress the Palestinian Arabs (i.e., the Muslims). The motif in the caricature is again religious, portraying Christians and Muslims as weak and frail before the powerful Jewish giant.

Jews controlling the world is an old motif and is central to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In Norway, a new edition of the book has been published by the Bergman Publishing House.


4. The Jew: A Robber and a Parasite

A parasite is an organism that utilizes resources gathered and possessed by others. Known examples of parasites are viruses, ticks, rats, and in the human sphere, thieves and robbers.

Verdens Gang has the largest circulation of Norwegian newspapers. Its famous caricaturist Morten M. Kristiansen portrays the Jews of Israel as parasites who stole land from the Arabs and still want every last grain of sand. The Jew’s greed does not leave room for others – reminiscent of the Nazis’ justification for needing Lebensraum. In 1940, the Nazi film The Eternal Jew likened Jews to rats, presenting both as aggressive, parasitic agents that use their genetic advantages to spread all over the world.


Image 7: “Land-Robbers Grab Every Single Bit” (with an untranslatable pun on “Semite”; caricature by Morten M. Kristiansen, Verdens Gang, 25 March 2004).

Image 8: “A Better Species of Human Being?” (caricature by Ulf Aas; the title belongs to the article by Magne Skjæraasen, Aftenposten, 6 June 1992).

Aftenposten’s article “A Better Species of Human Being?” described how the Israelis allegedly used their sense of superiority to allow the massacres in the Sabra and Shatilah refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982. The author, Magne Skjæraasen, presents himself as a “friend of Jews.” He ignores, however, an atrocity such as the Syrian massacre of at least twenty thousand civilians in Hama on 2 February 1982.

Skjæraasen and others like him do not criticize the PLO, the Palestinian Authority, and other Arab and Muslim bodies for killing thousands of Jews and seeking the destruction of Israel. The common claim by Norwegians and others that “we have nothing against Jews – we just oppose Israeli aggression” is exposed by such selectivity and hypocrisy.


5. The Jew as Satan

Image 9: Germany, 1943 – “Satan” (Der Stürmer, No. 9).

The faces of the “satanic Jew” are nearly identical in the caricatures: the long “Jewish nose,” the frowning forehead symbolizing deceit, the narrow cunning eyes looking askance, perhaps at his next victim? The wrinkles seem to indicate evil thoughts toward both the Christians and the Muslims, represented here by Norway’s then Prime Minister Bondevik and PLO chairman Arafat, respectively. In the 1943 caricature, the Jews were shown as if they were threatening only the Christians.

Image 10: The Devil and the Jew (caricature by Oddmund Mikkelsen, Hamar Arbeiderblad, 12 July 2003).

During the Nazi era, Der Stürmer became the most virulently anti-Semitic publication in Germany. The Norwegian portrayal of the Israeli prime minister in this caricature, however, is even coarser and surpasses Der Stürmer in depicting results of the Jew’s actions: a sea of blood and a graveyard with crosses seems to indicate that the victims are Christians.20 The message here is again religious: the Jew kills both Christians and Muslims. The Jewish Satan, represented here by Sharon, is a frightening ghoul whom Christians must fight.


6. The Jew as a Monster

In a caricature that is considered one of the most anti- Jewish in history, the Jew is shown as a mythological monster that endangers the world. Kikeriki was the first publication known to focus on anti-Jewish caricatures. It was published in Vienna and was probably the inspiration for Der Stürmer, which began to appear in Germany in 1923. Kikeriki was under Jewish ownership.21

The alleged nature of the leader of the Jewish state, Ariel Sharon, needs no further explanation. Siri Dokken says that “a political caricature does not show what a person looks like. It is rather my personal perception of how he or she does the job or of the situation that person is in.”22

Image 11: Vienna, c. 1900 (Kikeriki)

Image 12: “The Middle East Not Quite Before the Storm” (caricature by Siri Dokken, Dagsavisen, 4 March 2003).

Did this caricature express Dokken’s and Dagsavisen’s frustration that the Jews were endangering peace in the Middle East and perhaps the rest of the world? Or was it an eruption of a more traditional attitude?


7. The Jew Hinders Peace

These caricatures are so similar that it is difficult to imagine the second could have been drawn without a sidelong glance at the first. In both, the Jew is a giant who cares little about peace or his neighbors. In the former, the word Jew is clearly visible to the right. In the latter, the Jewish kippa is placed on the former Israeli prime minister’s head, although he seldom wore a kippa. Also, the nose helps to identify the “typical Jew.”

Image 13: Germany, 1933-1945, “The Jew: The Initiator and Prolonger of War” (German Federal Archives, Koblenz, 1933-1945).

Image 14: “With a Roadmap for Peace” (caricature by Roar Hagen, Verdens Gang, 30 May 2003).

The Jew in these caricatures, with his half-closed, drowsy eyes, has no semblance of decency or emotions. He wields colossal power; even the mighty United States, like Europe in the past, cannot cope with the Jewish problem.

The common message of these two caricatures is that the Jew is the sole obstacle to peace and the cause of war. This was said in regard to both of the world wars.

Nowadays many Norwegian and other European leaders seem to assume that the threat of war could be avoided if only the Jewish state would stop being arrogant, oppressive, and expansionist. Caricatures such as the above incite against Jews. The Nazis’ “Final Solution” was passively accepted (even by the United States) and implemented in Europe after generations of brainwashing. Today there are efforts to create a similar climate.


8. Secular Media Propagating Religious Ideas

Image 15: The Star of David over Bethlehem (caricature by Inge Grødum, Aftenposten, 18 May 2002).

The (Jewish) Star of David, by replacing the (Christian) Star of Bethlehem, informs the reader that Jewry has converted Bethlehem into a Jewish place. Hence the Jews are acting against the Christians, who regard Bethlehem as a holy city. The three camel riders symbolize the Three Wise Men who, according to Christian tradition, foresaw Jesus’ birth and came to visit him in Bethlehem, over which the Star of Bethlehem shone.23 The caricature insinuates that Christians have to stop Jewish violence but fail to do so.

Image 16: Israeli tanks firing at the Star of Bethlehem (caricature by Inge Grødum, Aftenposten, 05 April 2002).

This conveys the idea that the Jews are at war with Christianity. The symbolic number three appears in several caricatures.

Image 17: “Christmas in Bethlehem” (caricature by Inge Grødum, editorial, Aftenposten, 27 December 2001).

The caricature suggests how the Jews oversee and control the Christian town of Bethlehem. Again an impression is created that the Jews control the Christians, a message to be remembered by the readers during the Christmas holiday.

Image 18: The Jewish plan on the Christian New Year’s Eve: Kill a Muslim (caricature by Inge Grødum, Aftenposten, 31 December 2002).

While the (good) Christian reader celebrates the New Year, the (evil) Jew Sharon plans to kill the Muslim Arafat. The hanging rope is made of an Arab keffiyeh. This image in Christian Europe reminds the Christians not to forget their duties toward the Jews: not only to celebrate New Year but also, in the name of love, to protect the Muslims from the Jews.

Image 19: Christmas Eve 2002: The Star of Bethlehem and the three wise men from the East (caricature by Finn Graff, Dagbladet, 24 January 2002).

Jewish wickedness, symbolized by the Star of David trapping Arafat, is meant to arouse Christian anger. The Three Wise Men abandon their religious duties and ride away on their camels. The message is obvious: the Muslims are victims of the Jews, and the Christians must not neglect their moral and religious duty to thwart the Jews.

Although the Norwegian media is largely secular, it shows a fixation with religious anti-Jewish motifs, many of which have age-old roots. Caricatures and articles create the impression that the Jews are combating Christianity for world domination. Although many journalists present Israel as the world’s worst problem, most know that the “Middle East conflict” is just a fraction of the Muslim war against all other ethnic groups, not to mention the numerous Muslim internal wars. In many conversations this author had with Norwegian journalists, not one continued to deny these realities after a number of places were mentioned, including Kashmir and Sudan, where Muslims attack non-Muslims.

It seems that while some of the journalists simply hate Jews, many more are simply afraid to deal with the difficult problem and prefer the easy solution. Instead of the frightening global jihad, they prefer to see a smaller issue, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that supposedly can be easily solved.

Journalists cannot express any opinion. The media that employs them decides on guidelines and terminology to be used.24 Two journalists even told this author that they were pressured by colleagues for being “too positive toward Israel.” A clear factor is the common fear of Muslims; it is much safer to blame Israel.

Anti-Israelism in the Norwegian media uses sophisticated propaganda techniques to arouse anti-Jewish sentiments among the public, who are subtly told that they are also part of the conflict. Since the Jews are against Christianity, the Christians must stand together with the Muslim Palestinians against the Jews.

Most Norwegian media kept silent, however, when terrorists seized the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in April and May 2002 and held nuns and priests as hostages. These terrorists belonged to organizations collaborating with the PA including the PLO, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, and Hamas. Several had earlier participated in murderous attacks on Jewish civilians. The Norwegian media also kept silent while Christians were persecuted in Bethlehem after Arafat and the PLO took control there, Bethlehem’s Christian population having declined from at least 60 percent in 1990 to 20 percent in 2001.25 But when Israeli forces surrounded the church and tried to liberate its kidnapped employees and arrest the terrorists, the Norwegian media suddenly took interest.

The caricatures in this group distort what actually happened. The Jews are shown to have supplanted the Star of Bethlehem with their own symbol, the Star of David. The media cynically exploits the sanctity of Bethlehem and Christmas to stir feelings of hatred against the Jews. For centuries, incitement of this sort led to bloody attacks on the Jews of Europe.

Arafat, who had Mein Kampf published in Ramallah,26 was responsible for the murder of more Jews than anyone else since the Hitler era. Nevertheless, many in the Norwegian media celebrated him as a hero and as a victim of the Jews. Norway’s economic support per inhabitant to the PLO/ PA is far greater than any other country’s.27 The fact that Hamas has controlled the PA since January 2006 has not led Norway to stop the funding. On April 10 2006, Foreign Minister Jonas Gehr Støre declared that “Norway remains a major donor to the Palestinian people. We provide about half a billion kroner a year.”28


9. The Jew as Nazi

Image 20: Sharon the Nazi (caricature by Finn Graff, Dagbladet, 4 April 2002).

The retired secretary-general of the Norwegian Labor Party, Haakon Lie, wrote in his autobiography: “The Labor Party conducted serious attacks against Israel; it used caricatures of Finn Graff, which evoked in detail the anti- Semitic illustrations of Der Stürmer in Hitler’s days and of The Crocodile in Moscow.”29

Graff, a left-wing caricaturist, was born in Germany in 1938 and moved to Norway, where his images evoke a positive response. They suggest that the evil in the world originates from two sources, the United States and Israel. Several of his caricatures show the Jews controlling the United States.


10. Jews Must Not Defend Themselves

Image 21: Olmert the Nazi (caricature by Finn Graff, Dagbladet, 10 July 2006).

Image 22: “The Extremists’ War” (caricature by Inge Grødum, Aftenposten, 15 July 2006).

In July 2006, after Hamas and Hizballah attacks on Israel including kidnappings, murders, and shelling, Israel’s government finally ordered the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to fight back. Some Norwegian politicians, and to a much greater extent the journalists, reacted immediately with criticism of Israel but not of the terrorists. The state of Israel, its government, and especially Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were condemned in every conceivable forum.

Some Arab journalists criticized Hizballah and its Iranian patron. Yet most of the Norwegian journalists did not even mention this Arab criticism.30

The severe Norwegian attacks on Israel cannot be explained by concern for the Arabs. Norwegians and other European concern for the Arabs only arises when Jews can be blamed for their suffering. Criticism of Israel is never so rapid and harsh as when Jews defend themselves. This occurred when Israel decided to build a security barrier, engaged in targeted assassinations of terrorist leaders, and when Olmert ordered the recent campaign. In true European tradition, Jews are expected to suffer but not to defend themselves.

The right to self-defense is far from consistently accepted in modern Europe. Norwegian soldiers fight in Afghanistan against terrorists who do not directly threaten Norway, but Israel is vilified for retaliating against terrorists actively engaged in murderous attacks on Israelis.

In Image 21, Israel’s prime minister is the commandant of a death camp.31 Olmert is dressed in a Nazi uniform within the camp, which is connoted by a high wall, watchtowers, and barbed wire. Above the gate can be read “Jedem Das Seine[m],” which in poor German means “Each one gets what he deserves.” Outside the barracks in front of Olmert lie many Arab corpses. Olmert stands in Nazi boots, laughing and pleased, holding a sniper gun while an Arab he deliberately shot in the head is bleeding. The title of the article describing Olmert and Israel is “Successful,” adding further demonization. The newspaper refused to publish a reaction by this author, stating that it “refuses to allow reprimanding in the newspaper.”

In Image 22, the mighty Olmert tramples tiny Lebanon leaving bloody traces. In the background is Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran, presented as a dwarf compared to Israel, can only watch helplessly from the sidelines while Israel destroys peaceful Lebanon.


11. The Jew Likes to Kill

The centuries-old blood libel, which claims that Jews kill Christian children as part of their religious rituals (particularly at Passover), has now been turned into the myth of Jews killing Palestinian children. In both caricatures the Jew is bloodthirsty and murderous. Jewishness is represented by the kippa in the first caricature and by the Star of David in the second.

Image 23: Russia, 1907 – “The Radical” ( Pluvium, St. Petersburg).

Image 24: Norway, 2003 – “Dance Macabre” (caricature by Inge Grødum, Aftenposten, 13 April 2003; Sharon says: “Who dares to throw the last stone?”).

One eye of the Jew is closed or covered, the other eye aiming to kill. The subliminal message is: the Jew turns a blind eye to moral feelings; the Jew is callous and inhuman. He displays no feelings before he shoots, and he shoots children. The Jewish arrogance is evident even in the weaponry: the old “rascal” is armed with a pistol and a dagger; the modern Jew uses a machinegun against children.

The Jew’s face is long-nosed and ugly; such images were seen by children in Nazi Germany, and they influence Norwegian children today. According to the many articles and caricatures published in Aftenposten, the Jews continue to behave in a brutal, primitive manner that arouses indignation in civilized people. Unlike Der Stürmer, Aftenposten is a mainstream newspaper, Norway’s most influential as noted, and is considered moderate.

That caricature illustrated an anti-Semitic article by the journalist Cordelia Edvardson, whom Aftenposten makes full use of in conveying crude anti-Israeli allegations. Edvardson is herself a Jew who was rescued from Auschwitz and now lives in Israel. In several of her articles in Aftenposten and other newspapers, she has compared Israelis to Nazis. In an article illustrated by a drawing of an old train car, Edvardson claimed that Israel forcibly transferred hundreds of thousands of Arabs. She did not, however, protest against the forced deportation of Jews from Gaza and northern Samaria some years later.



There are striking similarities between Nazi-era and contemporary anti-Jewish caricatures, as seen in many Norwegian examples. Then as now, the artists use sophisticated methods to incite emotions. Common motifs include:

• Jews rule and exploit the world.
• Jews are evil and inhuman.
• Jews hate peace and propagate wars.
• Jews are unlike other people.
• Judaism is against other religions.

Recent caricatures convey that Jews are fighting Christians, who must therefore ally with the Muslim Palestinian Arabs.

There is no doubt that Jew-hatred is alive in today’s Norway. The situation is deteriorating with Jews under increasing attacks. This hatred is spread by the leaders of the society – journalists, intellectuals, church and state leaders, including bishops and prime ministers. They belittle the Holocaust while providing political and economic support to elements striving to exterminate world Jewry, first and foremost the Jews of Israel.

The situation, however, is not hopeless. Despite Norway’s history of anti-Semitism, several factors suggest that it is possible to counter the current trend and foster a better attitude toward Jews and Israel. To begin with, the most virulent and effective anti-Semitism originates in a very small, albeit active, elite part of the population.

Second, the Jew-hatred spread by these circles can be confronted because these people are generally sensitive about their image. To be effective, such confrontation must be massive and should come from well-known bodies such as the Israeli government and organizations that fight anti-Semitism. Examples of such efforts are the complaints sent last August by the Simon Wiesenthal Center against the Norwegian caricatures and against the proposal for an amendment to eliminate tax deductions for donations to Israel.32 The few cases in which the Israeli Foreign Ministry did protest against anti-Semitism, and the even fewer cases where the Norwegian Jewish community did so, often achieved good results.

Indeed, Norwegians in general are concerned about their reputation. The Norwegian media often cites how Norway is described abroad. Criticism of Norway and possible damage to its reputation are taken seriously. Leaders often respond the next day to complaints that appear in the media.

A decisive Jewish and Israeli policy against Norwegian anti-Semitism could also improve relations between Norway and Jews and Israel. Fifty years ago Norwegian schools used maps of “Jødeland” (The Jews’ Land), portraying Israel positively as the Jewish state; thirty years ago Norwegian schoolchildren learned to sing the Israeli song “Hava Nagila” and were taught to relate positively to Jews. Today, schoolchildren learn about Israeli soldiers who kill innocent Arab youngsters and aggressive Zionists who forcibly occupy other people’s land. Instead of letting the situation deteriorate even further, it must be improved. It is impossible to eradicate anti-Semitism in Norway and Europe generally, but Jews must work to reduce it to tolerable levels.


Appendix: Who Is behind the Caricatures?

1. The Caricaturists and Journalists

• Ulf Aas has been a caricaturist for Aftenposten since 1948. His caricatures were purchased by the Norwegian National Gallery and other important galleries. He has received many prizes, and in 1999 was awarded Norway’s most prestigious Knight First Class of St. Olav’s Order for his contribution to Norwegian art and culture.

• Dave Coverly is a freelance caricaturist. He sells his work through Creators Syndicate, Los Angeles.33

• Siri Dokken has worked since 1995 for Dagsavisen where her caricatures appear almost daily. She previously worked for the newspaper Dag ogTid.

• Finn Graff was born in Germany in 1938 and immigrated to Norway in 1946. He previously worked for Morgenposten and Arbeiderbladet and has worked for Dagbladet since 1988. The well-known Graff caricatures have been exhibited in Norway, including the National Gallery, and abroad, and have received prizes in Norway and elsewhere. In 2000 and 2005, the Norwegian Media Businesses’ Association awarded him the Newspaper Caricaturist of the Year award. Graff’s caricatures are extremely violent and grotesque by Norwegian standards, commonly attacking the United States, Israel, and the Norwegian Right. No other caricaturist so extensively compares Jews to Nazis as Graff has done.

• Inge Grødum is one of the most renowned caricaturists in Norway, his works appearing almost daily in Aftenposten. He earlier worked for the newspaper Nationen and his works have been exhibited in Norway and abroad.

• Roar Hagen has worked for Verdens Gang since 1986, previously working for Sunnmørsposten and Stavanger Aftenblad. His caricatures have also been published in Die Zeit, the International Herald Tribune, Der Spiegel, Time, Newsweek, and elsewhere.34

• Morten M. Kristiansen works for Verdens Gang but has also published caricatures in Dagbladet. He is also a political commentator, furniture designer, and inventor.

• Oddmund Mikkelsen has worked for Hamar Arbeiderblad since 1988.

• Magne Skjæraasen is a journalist whose article was apparently the inspiration for Image 8 above. He became best known as a columnist for Aftenposten’s culture section. The Jews of Oslo consider him Jew-friendly; many of them, like him, reject Jew-hatred outside Israel but criticize Israel for its self-defense against terrorism and support external pressure against it. Skjæraasen’s attitude toward the Jews is an interesting example of the new anti-Semitism: he has been positive toward the small Jewish minority of Norway but negative toward the large number of Jews in Israel.

• Herbjørn Skogstad currently works for the local newspaper Oppland Arbeiderblad, and earlier for the newspaper Bergensavisa.


2. The Newspapers

Many local newspapers are published in Norway because of the great distances as well as the social structure, which is characterized by numerous small communities. In 2004, 166 newspapers had a total daily circulation of 2,855,071.35 Many of the local newspapers depend on generous government subsidies.

The newspapers mentioned in the text include:

• Aftenposten: The Oslo region, where power is concentrated, is the country’s most important one, and Oslo’s newspaper Aftenposten is the most influential. It is conservative and the second largest paper in Norway with a circulation of 250,000 in 2004. Aftenposten is owned by Schibsted, a leading media group in Scandinavia. Schibsted is apparently a purely economic interest group and not a political actor.

• Dagbladet: With a circulation of 183,000 in 2004, Dagbladet is Norway’s third largest newspaper. Published in tabloid format, it is not sold to subscribers but can be bought in gas stations, shops, and kiosks. Dagbladet’s shares are owned by different companies and concerns. It seems the owners’ interest in the newspaper is economic and not political.36

• Dagsavisen’s circulation is 33,000. It has always been associated with the Labor movement, and in 1894 became the main organ of the Norwegian Labor Party. In 1996 and 1999, it changed owners and is now owned by the Dagsavisen Foundation.37 Its political affiliation, however, has not changed.

• Hamar Arbeiderblad was established by local branches of the Labor Party in 1925. Its circulation is 28,500. Today, it is the largest newspaper of the Hedmark region (approximately the size of Israel). Formally, it is now a nonpartisan newspaper.38

• Oppland Arbeiderblad, a local newspaper with a circulation of 28,500, was established in 1924 as a Labor Party local newspaper. Today it is owned by the A-pressen, a left-wing concern (see below).39

• Verdens Gang (VG) is Norway’s largest paper with a circulation of 365,000. It is a tabloid available in gas stations, shops and kiosks. It too is owned by Schibsted.

• The A-pressen concern was established in 1948 as Norsk Arbeiderpresse (Norwegian Labor Press), but its history began earlier with the founding of the first workers’ newspaper, Vort Arbeid (Our Work) in 1884. Vort Arbeid had a crucial influence on the formation of the Labor Party. In 1989, Norsk Arbeiderpresse merged with another company to form A-pressen. Its board was headed in 2005 by Gerd-Liv Valla, a former Stalin supporter who is also president of the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO). On 1 May 2002 (Labor Day), Valla’s and the LO’s main agenda was a call to boycott Israel.

*     *     *


* The author thanks the many Christian Norwegians who are devoted to supporting the Jews and Israel. Without their activities, funding, and constant encouragement, NIS’s work against anti-Semitism in Norway would be impossible.

1. Malcolm Hay, The Foot of Pride: The Pressure of Christendom on the People of Israel for 1900 Years (Boston: Beacon, 1950). (Also published in 1975 as Thy Brother’s Blood: The Roots of Christian Anti-Semitism.)

2. Diplomatarium Norvegicum, Vol. 5 (1436), 469-73. Cited in Oskar Mendelsohn, Jødenes historie i Norge gjennom 300 år (Three Hundred Years of Jewish History in Norway), Vol. 1 (Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 1969/1987), 10. [Norwegian]

3. Mendelsohn, Jødenes historie, 11.

4. Vebjørn Selbekk, Jødehat på norsk (Jew-Hatred in Norwegian) (Skjetten: Hermon, 2001), 42. [Norwegian]

5. The figures are for 2003/04, 10/jeja_en.

6. Selbekk, Jødehat, 49.

7. Ibid., 50.

8. Forskning, No. 5 (1998); Forskning, 1 August 2000: Kirurgi på rasemessig grunnlag, [Norwegian]

9. Aftenposten, 7 October 2003, oslo/article641877.ece. [Norwegian]

10. Monitor, 3 December 2003, [Norwegian]

11. Efraim Zuroff, “Worldwide Investigation and Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals: An Annual Status Report,” Simon Wiesenthal Center, 2002,

12. Defense Minister Dag Jostein Fjærvoll confirmed the details. Defense Ministry press release No. 054/98, 7 September 1998. [Norwegian]

13. Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Anti-Semitic Motifs in Anti-Israelism,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, 1 November 2002,

14. See the excellent analysis of Arieh Stav, Peace: The Arabian Caricature – A Study of Anti-Semitic Imagery (Jerusalem: Gefen, 1999). The book contains an important overview and reference list.

15. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Joël Kotek, “Major Anti- Semitic Motifs in Arab Cartoons,” Post-Holocaust and Anti- Semitism, 21, 1 June 2004,

16. Stav, Peace.

17. The term Christian is used here to include believers as well as secular persons in countries that for generations have been under the influence of the Christian churches.

18. Prime Minister’s Office, press release 99/2006. [Norwegian]


20. It is also possible that the crosses were used because they are the common symbol for a grave in Christian Europe. But since journalists and Norwegian leaders have often accused Israeli Jews of fighting against Christians (as in Bethlehem or Beit Jalla), the first explanation is highly probable.

21. Arieh Stav, personal conversation, 23 August 2006.

22. Siri Dokken, interview in Dagsavisen, 29 December 2004, [Norwegian]

23. Matthew 2:1-12, and Christian tradition.

24. Several journalists confirmed this in private conversations.

25. Yoram Ettinger, “The Islamization of Bethlehem by Arafat,” 25 December 2001,

26. It was published by Al-Shuruq, based in Ramallah. The book became a bestseller in the Palestinian Authority in 1999. See:

27. Norwegian Foreign Ministry’s press release from 08 December 2003, Nr.: 207/03.

28. “Support to the Palestinians,” Norwegian Foreign Ministry, press release, 10 April 2006. [Norwegian]

29. Haakon Lie, Slik jeg ser det (As I See It), Part 2 (Oslo: Tiden Norsk forlag, 1983), 132. [Norwegian]

30. Ahmed al-Jarallah, “No to Syrian, Iran Agents, editorial in Arab Times (Kuwait), 15 July 2006, arabtimes/opinion/view.asp?msgID=1242.

31. Note the copying of a scene from Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List.



34. Verdens Gang’s annual report for 2004, vg2004.pdf. [Norwegian]

35. Norwegian Media Businesses’ Association, www.mediebedriftene. no. [Norwegian]

36. Dagbladet’s annual report for 2003, pdf/aarsrapport2003.pdf. [Norwegian]



39. Arne Næss, news editor of Oppland Arbeiderblad, telephone conversation, 9 September 2005.

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Erez Uriely is founder and director of the Norwegian Centre against anti-Semitism, a nongovernmental organization focusing on hostile expressions against Jews and Israel in the Norwegian media and public institutions. He holds an MS degree and has published many articles in Norwegian newspapers.