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Invoking a scene from the film Schindler's List, one of Norway's largest newspapers recently published a political cartoon comparing Prime Minster Ehud Olmert to the infamous commander of a Nazi death camp who indiscriminately murdered Jews by firing at them at random from his balcony.
The caricature by political cartoonist Finn Graff appeared on July 10 in the Oslo daily Dagbladet. It has prompted outrage among the country's small Jewish community and led the Simon Weisenthal Center to submit a protest to the Norwegian government.
In the cartoon, Olmert is likened to SS Major Amon Goeth, the infamous commandant of the Plaszow death camp outside of Krakow, Poland, who was convicted of mass murder in 1946 and hanged for his crimes.
While in charge of Plaszow, Goeth would go out to the balcony on his villa, and engage in target practice by aiming his telescopic rifle and firing at random at Jews imprisoned there, often killing them.
The scene was famously depicted by director Steven Spielberg in his 1993 film, Schindler's List..
In response, the Norwegian Israel Center against Anti-Semitism, an Oslo-based organization comprising Jews and Christians, has appealed to the government to speak out against hatred of Jews.
"We have launched a campaign to get Norwegians to send letters to the minister of justice to make Norway a safer place for Jews," said center founder Erez Urieli by phone from Oslo.
"We should not go underground. We have to take care of anti-Semitism before it becomes dangerous," he said.
Urieli noted that Norwegian society is extremely tolerant and broad-minded, and that many non-Jews had joined in protesting against manifestations of anti-Semitism. "Many Christians support us, and have written to the government to complain about how Jews are treated in Norway. Today, we are standing together, and we can bring about change with the help of our Christian friends," he said.
In a related move, the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles sent a letter last week to Norwegian Ambassador to Washington Knut Vollebaek to express "collective outrage" over the publication of the cartoon for "depicting Israel's Prime Minister Olmert as a Nazi mass murderer."
"We would expect the leadership of your government," wrote the center's Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper, "to publicly denounce this outrageous verbal anti-Semitic attack that manages simultaneously to denigrate the victims of the Nazi Holocaust and incite hatred against Israel and her supporters in your country."
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