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During the Nazi occupation, several hundred Norwegian Jews didn’t live to see their country liberated; instead, they perished in death camps to which they’d been transported by the servants of Hitler – not a few of whom were Norwegian gentiles.
Flash forward eight decades. Today, for at least a few Norwegian gentiles, the Holocaust is a ticket to lucrative careers. Villa Grande, the Oslo chateau where Vidkun Quisling lived, is now the headquarters of an organization whose official name is the Norwegian Center for Holocaust and Minority Studies but that is informally known as the Holocaust Center.
And yes, it does host a permanent exhibition about the Holocaust. But the Center’s blatant association of itself with that horrific historical episode has often seemed to involve – how to put it? – no small amount of calculation, disingenuousness, guile.
Granted, some of the 18 researchers who work at the Center are highly serious students of the Holocaust. Terje Emberland has written about the SS, Himmler, Norwegian anti-Semitism, and Norwegian Nazis. Øystein Hetland’s 2020 dissertation is about the Norwegian police during the Nazi occupation. Øivind Kopperud has studied Jewish history, anti-Semitism, and the Holocaust in Norway. Synne Corell has published one book about the way in which Norwegian historians treat the Nazi occupation of their country and another about the wartime confiscation of Norwegian Jews’ property.
These scholars have done precisely the kind of work that you’d expect such a place to support.
But there are other “researchers” at the Holocaust Center.
One of them, Cora Alexa Døving, has written a few times about Jews and the Holocaust. But she keeps returning to the topic of “Islamophobia” – a nonsensical concept that she takes seriously and equates with anti-Semitism. In articles like “Muslims Are…” and “A Growing Consensus,” Døving attributes fact-based criticism of Islam to hatred and bigotry. While reproaching ethnic Norwegians for their purported hostility to Muslims, she ignores those Muslims’ far more virulent hatred toward Christians, Jews, Norwegians, individual liberty, gays, America, Israel, secular law, and sexual equality, among other things.
She makes statements that any honest Norwegian would recognize as outlandish. For example: “The integration of Muslims into Norwegian society on a general level has been successful. Socio-economic factors alone cannot therefore explain why negative stereotypes of Muslims are so widespread.” In fact, efforts at Muslim integration in Norway, as elsewhere in Western Europe, have been an utter disaster. Some politicians have been gutsy enough to admit as much. But Døving dismisses the contention that Muslim integration has failed as “a well-known trope from Islamophobic discourses.”
Norwegians with negative attitudes toward Islam, she writes, have told pollsters that their views can be explained by jihadist terrorism, by Islam’s “‘harmful’ cultural and religious values,” and by such phenomena as honor killing and niqab. Døving dismisses all of these complaints as illegitimate and as examples of “othering.” And though she’ll go so far as to admit that Norwegian and Islamic attitudes toward the role of women differ, she’s appalled by Norwegians who speak of the high levels of rape, abuse, and child brides in Muslim communities; for her, these things are all the stuff of “conspiracy theories,” and Norwegians who express concern about them are, quite simply, “racists.”
Døving, as it happens, is the curator of “In/visible – Everyday Racism in Norway,” an exhibition currently on view at the Holocaust Center. I haven’t seen it. After reading a few of her articles, I don’t think I need to. I can only imagine the armies of schoolchildren who are being bussed to the Villa Grande to be brainwashed by her handiwork.
There are other people like Døving at the Holocaust Center. But just one of her is enough to make me say the following: that it’s nothing less than appalling for an institution like the Center – which demands to be recognized as a place where the Holocaust is accorded serious study – to employ a so-called “researcher” who’s willing to overlook or even defend any monstrously inhuman assertion or attitude or action so long as it’s associated with Islam. To pretend that Døving’s shameless whitewashing of Islam falls into the same category as reputable Holocaust scholarship is nothing less than disgraceful.
The other day I caught up with a December 1 article whose blunt truth-telling put it a long distance away from Døving’s pro-Islam propaganda. The article notes that, according to a recent NRK poll, 82% of the approximately 1500 Jews currently living in Norway say “that experiences after the Hamas terrorist attack in Israel…have made them consider whether Norway is a safe country for Jews”; over 88% say that since October 7 “they have become more careful” about displaying symbols of their faith; nearly 83% “have refrained from saying that they are Jewish to avoid unpleasant experiences,” and 65% “have experienced expressions of anti-Semitism aimed directly at themselves or their loved ones.”
And who exactly has expressed this anti-Semitism? The group least cited by Norwegian Jews as expressing bigotry toward them, numbering slightly above 5%, is right-wingers. Leftist anti-Semitism is much more common, at 48%. And the group most cited as expressing Jew-hatred, at 63%, is – who else? – Muslims.
That article’s refreshing frankness about Muslim anti-Semitism marks it as precisely the kind of item you should expect to find at the website of a place that calls itself a Holocaust Center. But no; the article was written by Rita Karlsen of Norway’s Human Rights Service (HRS) and published at that organization’s website. Interestingly, HRS’s rigorous research into the lives and views of Norwegian Muslims – an activity that began precisely because the women who founded HRS were seriously concerned about the domestic abuse suffered by Muslim women in Norway – has been smeared in several of Døving’s publications as an expression of sheer bigotry.
In her article, Karlsen notes that when asked about NRK’s poll results concerning Muslim anti-Semitism, the Holocaust Center’s senior researcher, Vibeke Moe – who has compiled the Center’s “last two surveys of anti-Semitism in Norway” – responded by saying that “[f]indings concerning ‘perpetrators’…must be interpreted with caution.” To be sure, Moe acknowledged that anti-Semitism is “widespread among Muslims in Norway, but attitudes are complex and the picture is complex. It is important that concern about negative attitudes in certain environments is handled in a way that does not create a basis for new generalizations and more hatred.”
Meaning what? Meaning let’s talk about anti-Semitism – but not Muslim anti-Semitism. Never, ever, ever. Yes, the Holocaust Center’s researchers are fully aware of just how virulent Muslim anti-Semitism is; but as far as they’re concerned, it’s vitally important to stick to the PC line that Muslims are always and only victims of bigotry, never bigots themselves.
I don’t mean to single out the Holocaust Center for criticism in this regard. Plenty of these institutions that latch onto the Holocaust as a front for their progressive-minded swill operate in more or less the same way. Take another Norwegian body, The Archive (Arkivet), which is situated in the old Gestapo headquarters in Kristiansand and which describes itself as a “peace and human rights center” and as “an important place of remembrance for what happened here during the Second World War.” Outside the entrance to The Archive is a “memorial boat” whose hull bears the names of “162 men and women from Agder” – the region in which Kristiansand is located – who “lost their lives in German captivity during the Second World War”; inside the building is a “memorial corridor” where you can read “the names of 3,545 people from Agder who were held captive during the war.”
Every January for many years, The Archive has held an event called Holocaust Day. This year, however, the people who run it apparently decided that the word Holocaust isn’t as useful to them now as it was in years past. “Because of everything that is happening in the Middle East and because many people – for various reasons – find the terms difficult to keep apart,” read an announcement posted at the website of The Archive, “this year we have chosen to call the event ‘A Day to Commemorate Human Dignity’ instead of ‘Holocaust Day.’” Why? Because “as a peace and human rights center…we want as many people as possible to feel included.”
The announcement went on: “The world is fragile, the times we live in are demanding. It is challenging to talk and teach about the Holocaust when the Middle East is bleeding, and people are suffering and losing their lives at a pace and scale not seen since World War II.”
Nonsense. As Conrad Myrland of the estimable Norwegian organization With Israel for Peace (Med Israel for fred, or MIFF) pointed out in reporting on this absurd announcement on January 8, there have been a good many wars during the post-World War II era “that have had far higher death tolls per month than the war between Israel and Hamas after 7 October 2023.”
But back to The Archive’s announcement: “The Holocaust is an important part of history and will continue to be central to this year’s commemoration. But we will also ask ‘What about Gaza?’ under the theme ‘Second Genocide.’” So Gaza-centric, indeed, were the plans for “A Day to Commemorate Human Dignity” that The Archive planned to include a performance by Palestinian dancers.
But as Myrland commented – The Archive (and the leftist party line) to the contrary – Israel’s defensive war against Hamas “is not a genocide.” Myrland also wondered whether anyone at The Archive has heard that “[t]he first religious and political leader of the Palestinians, Haj Amin al Husseini, was an ardent ally of the Nazis, and in a very concrete way the Palestinian front is the last active front of the Second World War.” Or whether they realize that Hamas’s 1988 charter “is clearly inspired by classic European anti-Semitism, combined with Islamist dreams of genocide against the Jews.”
This time around, I can close with good news. A few hours after Myrland drew attention to The Archive’s announcement – on which, unsurprisingly, the mainstream national media chose not to report – it magically disappeared from The Archive’s website. The next day, the Archive’s director, Kristine Storesletten Sødal, was quoted in the regional newspaper Fædrelandsvennen as saying that the announcement had not been “quality assured” and that its wording was “unfortunate.”
In fact, Sødal’s message seemed to boil down to the claim that the announcement had been posted entirely by mistake; the Archive, she insisted, had never had any plans whatsoever to do away with, or change the name of, Holocaust Day. “That,” she assured the newspaper, “would be unthinkable.”
Lies, obviously – pathetic lies about a colossally ill-informed decision that must have caused a massive, Bud Light-scale blowback. Well, it’s good to know that enough Norwegians were outraged by The Archive’s announcement to make Sødal and her colleagues do a lickety-split U-turn. But what a meager victory! If only these institutions could be cleaned out entirely, like the Augean stables, and their employees replaced with real scholars and decent souls. But I assume that’s too much to ask.