Behind the Humanitarian Mask – The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews

Summary In the past decades many pioneering efforts to demonize Israel have come from elites of the Nordic countries. The motifs of this anti-Israelism are similar to those of classic anti-Semitism, of which it is a new mutation. Such highly discriminatory prejudices are in particular expressed in Norway and Sweden by leading socialist and extreme-leftist politicians as well as journalists, clergy and so-called humanitarians.

Behind the Nordic countries’ appearance and oft-proclaimed concern for human rights lurk darker attitudes. This book deals mainly with lifting the humanitarian mask as far as Israel and Jews are concerned. This disguise hides many ugly characteristics such as false morality, a pretense of superiority, as well as profound humanitarian racism.

The best-known Swedish statesman of the postwar period, Olof Palme was one of Europe’s first prominent Holocaust inverters. He was at the origin of the permeation of anti-Israelism in segments of the Social Democrats, Sweden’s classic government party.

In recent years major anti-Semitic incidents have taken place in Norway even though there are very few Jews there. The country is a European leader of anti-Semitic cartoons, sometimes similar to Nazi ones. Norway is one of the very few countries that forbids Jewish ritual slaughter. At the same time, it is one of only three countries in the world that permit the cruel killing of whales.

In this book, thirteen essays and interviews discuss various aspects of the attitudes of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland toward Israel and the Jews.

From the Foreword by Professor Gert Weisskirchen

The fight against anti-Semitism is still necessary. That is the conclusion I have had to draw as the Personal Representative of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) Chairman-in-Office on Combating Antisemitism. One of the central problems is the psychological and rhetorical entanglement of criticism of the State of Israel with anti-Semitism. Analyses show that the projection of anti-Israeli sentiments onto Jewish communities is a widespread pattern throughout Europe.

This book deals specifically with anti-Israeli, and sometimes anti-Semitic occurrences within the political and societal discourse in the so-called Nordic countries in Europe. The case studies presented here take a closer look at such phenomena as officials evaluating Israeli policies from a standpoint of moral superiority, strongly biased news reporting on the Middle East conflict, the failure to adequately protect Israeli institutions, the reluctance to put war criminals on trial, and so on. The incidents and patterns discussed here should be regarded as serious. It is the merit of this volume to put the spotlight on underreported phenomena that occur too close to what we see as our consensual political discourse for them to be ignored or trivialized.

Recommendations

“This book is an impressive and serious survey of different forms of anti-Semitism in the Nordic countries. The author also shows how anti-Semitism has become synonymous with anti-Israelism. The book is therefore a valuable tool in the public debate for all those who want Israel to remain as a nation and for the Jewish community to live in a safe environment in our countries.”

Annelie Enochson, Member of the Swedish Parliament

“In the early days of the State of Israel, there were very strong ties with Norway. Today, relations are still strong, although far from being uniform. The media’s unbalanced reporting of the situation in the Middle East is responsible for this. Therefore, as friends of Israel, we welcome honest information from other points of view. This book is a good example of such information.”

Ingebrigt S. Sørfonn, Member of the Norwegian Parliament

“Almost no scholarly works existed on the Nordic Countries and Israel until this recent contribution by Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld. His research offers a pioneering and thought-provoking analysis based on existing source material and interviews. Since his work is multi-focused on economic, political and moral issues, it will certainly give new impetus to a wider societal discussion. This book is of interest to anyone concerned with modern history and its implications evident in current relations between the Nordic countries and Israel.”

Hannu Takkula, Member of European Parliament (Finland), Vice Chair, Committee on Culture and Education

“The media in the Nordic countries are often accused of being biased and anti-Israeli in their coverage of the Middle East conflict. This book demonstrates that the accusations are justified. Manfred Gerstenfeld’s thorough analysis shows that many media, despite their reputation for humanitarianism, seriousness and fairness, come surprisingly close to the ‘new anti-Semitism’ when it comes to their coverage of Israel. The results of this analysis will be difficult to dismiss – for the media in question as well.”

Jacques Blum, cultural sociologist and chief editor of Goldberg Magazine. (Denmark)

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments…………………………………………………………………………………………9

Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………………………….11

Gert Weisskirchen: Foreword ………………………………………………………………………15

Manfred Gerstenfeld: Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic

Countries, Israel, and the Jews ………………………………………………. …………………….18

ESSAYS AND INTERVIEWS ON INDIVIDUAL COUNTRIES

Manfred Gerstenfeld: Anti-Israelism and Anti-Semitism in Sweden: An

Interview with Zvi Mazel ………………………………………………………………………………78

Mikael Tossavainen: Arab and Muslim Anti-Semitism in Sweden ……………………….86

Gerald Steinberg: The Swedish International Development Agency’s

Support for NGO Campaigns against Israel ……………………………………………………..98

Efraim Zuroff: Sweden’s Refusal to Prosecute Nazi War Criminals,

1986-2007 ………………………………………………………………………………………………103

Manfred Gerstenfeld: Norway: Extreme Expressions of Anti-Israeli and

Anti-Semitic Attitudes ………………………………………………………………………………..127

Erez Uriely: Jew-Hatred in Contemporary Norwegian Caricatures ……………………139

Odd Sverre Hove: The Cut-and-Omit TV News: Norway ………………………………156

Manfred Gerstenfeld: Norway: The Courage of a Small Jewish

Community; Holocaust Restitution and Anti-Semitism:

An Interview with Bjarte Bruland …………………………………………………………………162

Arthur Arnheim: Anti-Semitism after the Holocaust: Also in Demnark ……………….168

Vilhljámur ?rn Vilhjálmsson and Bent Blüdnikow: Rescue, Expulsion,

and Collaboration: Denmark’s Difficulties with Its World War II Past …………………176

Gerald Steinberg: Finnish State Funds Support Palestinian NGO

Campaigns against Israel ……………………………………………………………………………201

Manfred Gerstenfeld: Finland’s Tarnished Holocaust Record: An

Interview with Serah Beizer ………………………………………………………………………..206

Vilhjálmur ?rn Vilhjálmsson: Iceland, the Jews, and Anti-Semitism,

1625-2004 ……………………………………………………………………………………………..216

Contributors and Interviewees …………………………………………………………………….237

Index ……………………………………………………………………………………………………..241