Three days after the massacre in Norway, the country’s prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg gave a speech in which he declared that Norway’s response to the attacks would be more freedom, more tolerance and more democracy.
Stoltenberg’s words should resonate with all political parties, but more importantly, they should be remembered and enforced by Stoltenberg’s own governing coalition which includes the Socialist Left party.
Last year Sara Azmeh Rasmussen, a Syrian-Norwegian writer and a secular humanist, accused Norwegian political parties of outright anti-Semitism. Rasmussen claimed that toleration for extremism that emanates from Islamic countries has influenced local attitudes toward the Jews.
Rasmussen was a member of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), a party that in addition to being nationalist and a supporter of a Greater Syria, is also racist: "I had decided to deal with my past and it has even influenced my choice of studies, and I am ashamed of the fact that it has taken me this long."
Norwegian finance minister Kristin Halvorsen (L) takes part in a demonstration in front of the House of Parliament in Oslo January 10, 2009, in support of Palestinians in Gaza. (Photo by: Reuters)
According to Rasmussen the intolerance towards Jews and Israel emanates from the political left. She accused the Socialist Left (SV), led by the infamous Kristin Halvorsen (SV), for facilitating anti-Semitism. In the past, Halvorsen''s party has been at the forefront of anti-Israel activities. She has called for a boycott of Israeli goods and academics. This, according to Rasmussen has helped to create an image of Jews as aggressive and militant people "who just want to crush their opponents." Rasmussen argued that such demonization has made all the complicated nuances of the conflict irrelevant. She explicitly accused Halvorsen for the trivialization of anti-Semitism by providing a platform for extremist groups.According to Manfred Gerstenfeld, "...part of the Norwegian elite, which falsely calls itself progressive, is obsessed with Israel. This includes the leftwing government, many media, NGOs and part of the academic world. There are at most 1 300 Jews in Norway, of which 700 are organized in two communities, Oslo and Trondheim. They also are subject to the obsessive attention of the Norwegian elite."Stoltenberg’s words should be taken seriously by the Socialist Left. More tolerance and more freedom should mean that also those who do not belong to the anti-Israel left are heard and not demonized. In other words, the intolerant should not be celebrated at the expense of the tolerant.[email protected]