Expert slams study for playing down anti-Semitism

Norweigan study fails to use EU definition of anti-Semitism, Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld says.

Norway map 390 (photo credit: Thinkstock)
Norway map 390
(photo credit: Thinkstock)
BERLIN – A leading Israeli authority on Norwegian anti-Semitism sharply criticized on Sunday the results of a Norwegian study of bias against Jews because it plays down expressions of modern anti-Semitism and fails to use the EU’s definition of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hatred.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, chairman of the Board of Fellows at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, told The Jerusalem Post that “if the new report had used the common European definition of anti-Semitism its conclusion would have been that 38 percent of Norway’s population have anti-Semitic views with respect to Israel. A study last year came to the shocking finding that one third of Jewish students in Oslo schools are harassed verbally or physically at least two to three times per month.”
Though Norway is not a member of the 26-nation EU, it tends to follow a EU course on policy issues.
Dr. Gerstenfeld, who authored an authoritative book on Norwegian Jew-hatred, Anti-Semitism in Norway: Behind the Humanitarian Mask, in 2010, added that “some Jewish students say that they know of no Jewish student in Norway who has not been harassed. According to the European definition several Norwegian cabinet members are anti-Semites.”
Gerstenfeld said that he detailed the bias of many Norwegian politicians against Jews in a Norwegian paper article.
The Norwegian study, “Anti-Semitism in Norway,” was published in May by the Oslo Center for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities and gained traction in the European press in June and July.
According to the results of the Oslo Center study, 8% of Norwegians do not want Jews as friends or neighbors.
Roughly 11% have hostile feelings toward Jews and 12.5% of the Norway’s population has biases against Jews. The study revealed that 13% are of the view that Jews are to blame for their own persecution.
The EU definition of modern anti- Semitism cited by Gerstenfeld has broader language to capture hatred of Israel and secondary anti-Semitism in Europe (post-Holocaust). This definition largely embraces the “3-D” test developed by Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, which states that those who demonize, delegitimize and apply double standards to Israel meet the criteria of contemporary anti-Semitism.
Frode Overland Andersen, a spokesman for Norway’s Foreign Ministry, wrote an email to the Post – in response to a query at the time the media first reported the study – saying, “Recent studies show that that the prevalence of anti-Semitic notions in Norway is low, and on par with countries like Sweden, Denmark, Great Britain and The Netherlands.
Nevertheless, anti-Semitism is a big problem for those who feel its effects, and the Norwegian government maintains a strong commitment to combat all forms of discrimination, including against Jews in Norway.”
Andersen added that in early June, “the Norwegian foreign minister made public statements to this effect.”
At the time, Gerstenfeld wrote on Ynet that Norwegian explanations that shift the blame to Europe in general “can be better worded as: ‘There are anti-Semites in Norway, but that phenomenon is common in post-war Europe and we don’t have as many as some people accuse us of.’”