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On Wednesday, June 13, during an Internet search, I ran across a left-wing Norwegian blog with which I was previously unfamiliar. The posting I stumbled upon dated back to February and was concerned with what it described as my many lies about Norway. Chief among these lies, apparently, is my claim that “there is strong antisemitism in Norway’s ‘elite.’” The blogger claimed to find this claim outrageous. “Does he not know the labour party [sic] has historical strong ties with Israel? That a recent prime minister was a devoted friend of Israel?”
Less than an hour later, I followed a link in my inbox to a just-posted Jerusalem Post article by Benjamin Weinthal headlined “Norwegian student in Oslo burns Jewish pupil.” The story, which was originally reported on June 12 by a Norwegian Jewish blog, Med Israel for Fred (With Israel for Peace) – MIFF for short – was straightforward enough: on June 11, at an Oslo secondary school barbecue, an ethnic Norwegian student had burned a Jewish classmate with a red-hot coin, leaving “a very visible burn on the boy’s neck.” In a letter to Norway’s Minister of Justice, Grete Faremo, the Simon Wiesenthal Center complained that “this child has been the subject of anti-Semitic bullying and violence for the past two years, reportedly, because his father is Israeli,” but that “there has been no reaction by the school, the police or governmental authorities.” The Wiesenthal Center complained that “the silence of the school, the police and your government is too reminiscent of another Norway, under the WWII Nazi collaborator, Quisling.”
Vebjørn Dysvik, Norway’s chargé d’affaires in Tel Aviv, told the Post in an e-mail that he knew nothing more about the case than what had already been reported and insisted that “the Norwegian government has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to bullying in schools.” But Dysvik didn’t leave it at that. He also took the occasion to complain that the letter from the Simon Wiesenthal Center “contains several extreme statements that lack any foundation in reality. We take exception to the attempt of painting a picture of Norway and Norwegian society as being anti-Semitic. This is a gross distortion of facts for which the Center must bear responsibility.”
The very fact that Dysvik felt comfortable slapping back at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in this snotty manner reflects the Norwegian government’s exceedingly different way of responding to charges of anti-Semitism, which is a very real and escalating problem in Norway, and to charges of “Islamophobia,” that invention of the Muslim Brotherhood which, in Norway as elsewhere, is employed by the usual suspects to manipulate nervous multiculturalists. Clearly, while Norwegian officials like Dysvik are terrified of offending Muslims, they are not terribly worried about offending Jews.
But the main point here is that Dysvik’s glib rejection of the Wiesenthal Center’s charges is an offense against reality. As Weinthal writes, “Norway’s school system has permitted an increasingly hostile climate for Jewish pupils….Critics say Jewish students have been subject to assaults in Norway’s schools, and teachers have simply looked the other way.” A recent report on anti-Semitism in Norway by the Norwegian Holocaust Center explicitly states something that any halfway conscious person in the country already knows – namely, that the Norwegian media play a major role in disseminating and reinforcing anti-Semitism. (In this context, it’s worth noting that, immediately after reading Weinthal’s article, I carried out a series of Google searches in an attempt to discover whether the barbecue incident had been covered by any Norwegian media other than the MIFF blog. Only one item turned up: a story that had been posted an hour earlier on the website of Vårt Land, a small, Christian, Israel-friendly daily newspaper.)
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