A confluence of hate

Vicious racism from both its Left and Right has colored Norway's anti-Israel stance.

Pro-Palestinian anti-israe berlin 248 88 (photo credit: AP)
Pro-Palestinian anti-israe berlin 248 88
(photo credit: AP)
The Jerusalem Post report "Complaint filed against Norway's 'Holocaust' comic" (December 21) merits a retrospective glance at Norway's performance during and post-WWII. Norway is the nation that gave the world the word "quisling," after Vidkun Quisling, the Norwegian politician who encouraged a Nazi invasion of his country. Norwegians are not proud of their contribution to the English language, but they should be disturbed by their leadership role in the anti-Israel role that is sweeping Europe. On the heels of then UN Mideast representative Terje Larsen's infamous 2002 remark that Israel ceded all moral ground in its operation in Jenin, came word from his country that some super-market chains had decided to place special identification stickers on products from Israel. The Norwegians said that stickers did not constitute a "boycott" of Israel; they just wanted their customers, who are overwhelmingly pro-Palestinian, to note where their products are produced. At the time it was suggested that Israeli supermarkets should place yellow stickers so that customers be made aware of the origin of Norwegian salmon or Norwegian cheese. They would thus be aware of the source of these products - a source with a shameful past and which continues to operate as a European free zone for neo-Nazi and other right-wing extremists. Those asking the question whether Europeans are anti-Israel because of Israel's action in fighting terror or because of their own latent anti-Semitism should study the example of Norway. Behind the current disclaimer of a boycott you will find the Norwegians are quite experienced at shunning Israel. Norwegian Labor unions have refused to offload Israeli farm products. In 2001 Norwegian labor-youth movements organized a campaign to ban Israeli singers from participating in the Eurovision song contest. Another Norwegian group has been boycotting Israeli oranges since the early '90s. This group "Boikott Israel" rejuvenated the latest intifada to include a boycott of all Israeli commerce, denied on its Website that it is anti-Semitic but states that its goal is to end Israel's "50-year occupation of and return of all refugees to a free Palestine." In 1941, the graffiti on Jewish businesses in Oslo read "Jews go to Palestine." INDEED THE roots of Norwegian boycotts of Israel run deep. Anti-Semitism has held a unique place in Norwegian politics since the 1930s when the same Vidkun Quisling - later the leader of a Nazi puppet government in Norway - formed the National Union Party. While many of the Norwegians fought with the resistance, more became eager collaborators of the Nazis, including some 60,000 members of the National Union. Under its auspices, Norway formed its own branch of the SS and established academies sending hundreds of officers each year to the German military. One very active Nazi group in occupied Norway was the institute for Norsk okkupasjonshistorie (Institute for the History of Occupied Norway) composed of descendants of members of the Quisling party, the Waffen SS and others dedicated to cleansing their wartime reputation. The aspect of the Holocaust in Norway that was particularly Norwegian was the liquidation of Jewish property, much of which was divided up between Quisling and his followers. When the war ended, the Norwegian reparations commission shamelessly accepted doctored figures kept by the Quisling government in order to reject most Jewish claims and avoid paying others more than pennies on the dollar. A scandal, however erupted when it was discovered that an organization of former Nazis had provided a scholarship to a researcher on the new commission. The Norwegian prime minister ultimately intervened and compelled the government to accept a dissenting report. Norway's ultra right-wing groups play host to gatherings of like-minded groups from Sweden and Denmark with little fear of official interference, and during the '90s the extreme right-wing Progressive party was the second largest party in Norway, with 25 out of 160 seats in Parliament. Among other racist and anti-immigration views, this party advocated banning male circumcision. Shechita (kosher slaughtering) is already forbidden by Norwegian law. In 1994 the Nobel committee in Norway awarded its peace prize to Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat. At that time one member of the committee, Kaare Kristianson, resigned in protest, calling Arafat a terrorist unworthy of the award. Now, however other members, one of them a Lutheran bishop, say they want to strip not Arafat but Peres, the most dovish minister in Israel's government, of the award. Given their past and present history Norwegians are hardly qualified to accuse any other country of ceding moral ground. We need not be reminded that almost all of Norway's Jews were deported to Auschwitz. Fewer than 30 survived the Holocaust. The writer is a governor of the Hebrew University and a former chairman of the South African Zionist Federation.