Some readers may wonder why, on a translation blog, we are paying so much attention to the current upsurge of anti-Semitism in Norway. After all, Norway is a small country, and what happens within the fabric of its social structure is unlikely to effect major changes in the outside world. Well, we believe that Nordic translators have a special responsibility in an area like this. After all, we, or some of us, are engaged in the task of bringing Norwegian literature and new writing to the the English-speaking world and beyond. And in Norway, as in many other countries, writers,essayists, journalists and poets are part of the media establishment - as such, they reflect and influence public attitudes in Norway, and often bring them to expression.
A destructive phenomenon like widespread anti-Semitism is an indicator that something may be wrong with a society that nurtures it. As in other European countries, including the U.K., it cannot be dismissed as simply a reaction to events in Gaza or Lebanon. The recent willing participation of a Norwegian government figure, the Norwegian finance minister, in a demonstration which was characterized by the chanting of anti-Semitic slogans, cannot be a good sign. Yet we refuse to believe that the whole of Norwegian society is affected this way. The Tundra Tabloids blog, which writes about social and political trends in the Nordic countries, especially Finland, has recently extended its coverage to Norway. A reader of TT recently sent a letter to that blog, and we are taking the liberty of reproducing it here, as we believe that it reflects the true state of affairs in Norway today where the present topic is concerned. We would not normally publish a whole text like this: but we consider that the subject is important enough to warrant a full reproduction of the text, particularly as the letter also points to the possibility of developments in a more positive direction.
TT reader Bent writes:
Sadly enough, it is true that anti-Israel attitudes in Norway are both increasing and to some extent turning into anti-Semitism. There are several reasons for this. One is the radical increase in the number of Muslims being allowed to enter Norway and live for free on its irresponsible welfare system. Left wing political parties try to accommodate Islamic attitudes in order to gain or keep their votes (83 % of the Muslim community vote on socialist parties). And that means to some extent supporting anti-Semitism.See also in this blog: Anti-Semitism in Norway
Another, larger, reason is the left wing takeover of the media, both newspapers and TV. Almost all journalists in Norway today are socialists; a situation has existed for 30 years now. There is not a single “rightwing” newspaper left in Norway today! This situation has of course resulted in objectivity losing out to unbalanced leftist subjectivity. And since left-wingers really never liked Israel anyway (they are too successful, and left wingers neither like successful people nor successful countries), fostering of anti-Israel attitudes has been a left wing agenda for at least three decades. We find the same situation in universities all over the country.
The result is that anti-Israel attitudes are no longer a phenomenon isolated to left wing radicals and neo-Nazi “rednecks” (called “extreme right wing”, but they of cause belong to the left). Today a vast majority of social democrats strongly dislike Israel, and this dislike has infiltrated all political parties and the populace at large, so that today there are probably more Norwegians with anti-Israel attitudes than not.
By this I mean people that dislike or do not trust Israel, but instead support Palestinians, and hold that Israel in large is the cause of trouble in the Middle East, not Hamas and/or the Palestinians. In fact, a poll published January 27th 2009 (Dagbladet) showed that 50 % of all Norwegians are antagonistic towards Israel. Not only that: Even before the war in Gaza an opinion poll showed that 18 % of the Norwegian population no longer recognise Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign state, and the proportion in the age group between 18 and 25 with this opinion is 35 %. An alarmingly high proportion!
The situation is far worse among politicians. Today there are only two political parties left (represented in Parliament), where anti-Israel attitudes do not dominate: the Progressive Party and the Norwegian Christian Democratic Party. The other parties are becoming more and more antagonistic towards Israel, and more and more willing to “go to bed” with Islamist radicals. This is especially true of the Socialist Left Party, the radical socialist party to which Kristin Halvorsen, the Minister of Finance, belongs.
The fact that Halvorsen willingly participated in a hateful anti-Israel demonstration (before it became violent, which such demonstrations often do after “the elite” leaves the scene) is not accidental. It is on the contrary a classic case of how Norwegian radical socialists behave. Those who disbelieve that a socialist Government Minister in Norway would be irresponsible enough to engage in such a hateful demonstration, please visit http://frittforum.diskusjoner.com/voldelig-demonstrasjon-i-oslo-t1865.html?mforum=frittforum and scroll down to (the first) picture.
The picture shows Halvorsen amongst the demonstrators and on the poster is written (translated): “The greatest axis of evil: USA and Israel.” Among the slogans repeatedly shouted were: “Død over jødene!” meaning: “Death to the Jews!” If Halvorsen had disagreed with such a view, she would have left the scene in protest. But she did not; despite her high position. She stayed on, and thus acted as a kind of “ambassador” for this horrible view. Halvorsen is guilty as charged!
Still, there are signs that plausibly show that the tide is about to turn in Norway. The violent demonstrations in Oslo, followed by unabashed demands by radical elements in the Muslim community (halal food in supermarkets and for all prisoners whether they are Muslims or not, use of hijab in the police force, the removal of freedom of speech in religious matters) seems to, at least to some degree, have awakened the people. Many Norwegians are starting to realize what Islam really is (at least its radical version), and that the problems are mounting up on their own doorstep, not just in faraway countries.
This new trend is indicated by that fact that after the leader of the Progressive Party (Siv Jensen) openly showed her and her party’s support to Israel, AND strongly opposed the above mentioned demands from radical Muslims and socialists, polls have dramatically increased the support to Progressive Party. Also opinion building via Internet and blogging is on the rise. A new arena not controlled by socialist journalists.
Bent (Oslo, Norway)
Anti-Semitism in Norway - 2