From: Aftenposten
2/13/2009 14:48	
C O N F I D E N T I A L OSLO 000114
E.O. 12958: 
DECL: 02/09/2019 
Classified By: DCM Kevin M. Johnson for Reasons 1.4 (b,d)

1. (C)
Summary: Anti-Semitism in Norway, and the expression of
anti-Semitic comments, has increased since the Gaza war. The
small Norwegian Jewish community is wary of being targeted,
and "Jew" has become more popular as an epithet. While the
issue of anti-Semitism is frequently debated in the media,
Norwegians society has difficulty confronting it. Compared
with Americans, Norwegians generally are more reluctant to
accuse anyone of anti-Semitism, more reluctant to judge
offense by the standards of the offended group, and more
likely not to differentiate between Jews and Israelis. Israeli
embassy officials have told us that increased Norwegian
anti-Semitism is viewed in Israel as consistent with Norway´s
general anti-Israel bias, and anti-Semitism´s rise further
diminishes Norway´s ability to mediate in the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. End Summary.

Public Debate over Rahm Emmanuel 

2. (C)
Over the last two months, a former prime minister, Kare
Willoch, and a preeminent commentator on U.S. policy, Ole
Moen, were accused of making comments that were anti-Semitic.
On December 30 in a television debate program, when asked
about the prospect for progress in the Middle East with Obama
leading negotiations, Willoch said, "it doesn´t look good,
because he has chosen a Jew as a chief of staff." Mona Levin,
a Jewish columnist who also participated in the television
debate, later wrote a column in which she accused Willoch of
both anti-Semitism and racism for sending a message that Jews
can´t be trusted and blacks are easily manipulated. She also
commented on a feeling of hatred she perceived from him during
the television debate, noting he pointedly said "you people,"
although her family has lived in Norway since the 19th
century. Many voices in the media (including Willoch´s own)
have risen to his defense. Willoch has for years been an
especially strident voice against Israeli policy.

3. (C)
Ole Moen is the most frequently quoted academic on US policy.
During the election, he predicted that Americans would never
elect either a black man or a woman due to the racism and
sexism that he believes permeates American society. On January
9 Moen said Obama "has appointed many Jews and pro-Israel
people in his administration. ...This makes me have little
hope for significant change (in Middle East policy.)" Despite
complaints by a prominent commentator that Moen characterized
Jews as a group and appears to have assumed Jews don´t have
independent opinions as individuals, because they´re Jewish,
no apology was offered. Both Willoch and Moen publicly and
repeatedly rejected the characterization of their comments as
anti-Semitic. Despite the "debate" about the issue, neither
has truly been tarred as an anti-Semite in the Norwegian

Anti-Semitic Attitudes Spreading? 

4. (C)
Anecdotal evidence shows the small Jewish community in Norway,
comprising about 1000 members, are experiencing a growing fear
of rising anti-Semitism. When attempting to write a January 10
story about how Jewish families were dealing with the fallout
from the war in Gaza, a major newspaper found that most of
those contacted refused to be interviewed, because they were
afraid of being targeted if they appeared in the paper. One
orthodox Jewish family in Oslo chose not to take their
children to synagogue, as their appearance on the street makes
them especially vulnerable. Some Jewish parents are walking
with their children to school as an added security measure.
There have been reports of bullying at school, where Jewish
children are subject to insults. A recent expose on
anti-Semitism in a major paper found that "Jew" has become an
epithet among both Muslim and Christian teenagers. One Muslim
teenager interviewed commented that his friends say that the
Israelis "aren´t people." When pressed by the reporter on what
that meant, he responded, "well of course we know they´re
people, but when we say they´re inhuman, we mean they aren´t
good people."

5. (C)
The chief Rabbi of the Oslo Synagogue reportedly receives a
pile of hate mail each day. Typical salutations on such mail
are, "Murderers," "Maybe Hitler was right," "May hatred toward
you Jews grow and strengthen," and so forth. In a question
that typifies the general views of the Norwegian media, a
reporter asked the Rabbi bluntly, "Don´t you understand that
the world is outraged by the gruesome attacks against the
civilian population in Gaza?" The Rabbi answered that he
understood the terrible tragedy for the civilian population in
Gaza, but that hatred was growing and impacting Jewish people
who had never even been to Israel. According to an Israeli
embassy official, during a dinner in honor of a visiting
member of the Knesset, some Jewish Israeli-Norwegian married
couples commented that among people like themselves, many were
talking of moving to Israel, because they did not want to
expose their children to fear and hatred. The Knesset member
said he would communicate this back to the Israeli government.
Leon Bodd, a local Oslo politician who is Jewish, as well as
his daughter, have received threats by mail. During the Gaza
war, online comment sections on articles in the main Norwegian
newspapers were full of often hate-filled invective, most of
which condemned Israel, some of which referred interchangeably
to Israelis and "Jews." (Note: In one online chat sponsored by
a major newspaper, the Israel Charge chose to respond to a
question that included various threats in order to share with
the public the nature of these types of comments. MFA Protocol
upon seeing the question appear on the internet newspaper
site, called up the editor to demand its removal. The editor
choose to retain the exchange. The Israeli embassy interpreted
this action as a GON effort to downplay the existence of

6. (C)
In mid-January, a first secretary at the Norwegian embassy in
Saudi Arabia used the MFA´s email system to send out a
fundraising email appeal for Gaza with images comparing
Israeli soldiers with Nazi soldiers, urging recipients to
forward it as a chain letter. The MFA said it would be dealt
with as an internal personnel matter and there has been no
further public information given on the disposition of the

7. (C)
The atmosphere forced FM Stoere to acknowledge the problem and
on January 18th he visited Oslo´s synagogue to show solidarity
with Norwegian Jews who "feel alienated" and are "experiencing
growing anti-Semitism." Stoere said it was important to show
the Jewish community that Norway supports them and that
criticism experienced in the public is directed at Israel´s
conduct in Gaza. While acknowledging the delicacy of his
speaking about the Norwegian Jewish community, an Israeli
diplomat told emboffs that the problem is that it was only the
Jews in the room who heard this message from Stoere, as it was
not directly or widely covered by the media. He said he
believed the rising tide of anti-Semitism represented a
"terrible failure of the Norwegian establishment," with for
example Finance Minister Halvorsen initially participating
prominently an anti-war parade that ended with a full-scale
riot in front of the Israeli embassy. Cries of, "Kill the
Jews!" were heard at this demonstration. Police had not seen
such violent demonstrations since the 1980s. Interestingly,
one pro-Israel demonstration in Bergen was cancelled because
police told organizers that they could not protect participants.
See reftel for more information on the recent riots.


8. (C)
Post has no doubt that anti-Semitism is both increasing and
becoming more obvious in Norway, and it is a good sign that at
least it is being discussed. Norwegian society, however, has
obstacles to effectively combating it. First, a deep-seated
fundamental belief by Norwegians that their national character
is deeply and essentially "good," makes Norwegians reluctant
to accuse one of their own of a sin perceived to be as odious
as anti-Semitism. Second, whether an anti-Semitic (or racist)
statement has been made is determined by the speaker, not the
offended group. Even unacceptable statements are forgiven so
long as the speaker insists upon his or her good intentions.
Third, Norway follows a social model based on consensus rather
than individualism, so Norwegians are somewhat more prone to
have difficulty differentiating between individuals and
groups. In many discussions with Norwegians, there is often an
assumption that all Jews agree with IsraQi policy. The public
mention of USG officials in this regard is only an extreme
example of local opinion.

9. (C)
For all of these reasons, latent anti-Semitism is more likely
to be expressed publicly, if indirectly, and in turn increase
anti-Semitism in society at large. Offended Norwegians feel
constrained about protesting anti-Semitism, since they would
be questioning the Norwegian self-image. Post believes that
the "legitimization of rage" practiced by the Norwegian media,
in which outrage over Israeli policy is encouraged, has
contributed to an atmosphere in which anti-Semitism is easier
for ordinary Norwegians to express; there is no corresponding
freedom to attack Hamas, however, sine the local narrative
predominantly blames Israel. Given the response to the Gaza
war, Post believes further increases in tension in the
Israeli-Palestianian conflict are likely to result in
increased anti-Semitism in Norway. These developments have not
gone unnoticed by the Israeli government, and that diminishes
Norway´s ability to play a mediating role in the conflict.