You are here:   Dispatches > Norway's Problem with Anti-Semitism

Both Jews and gentiles referred to a tipping point in the winter of 2008-09 during the Israeli incursion into Gaza, when pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian demonstrators clashed in Oslo in one of the worst manifestations of anti-Semitism the Norwegian capital had witnessed since 1945. Shouts of "Death to the Jews" were heard, and elderly pro-Israeli demonstrators were threatened and assaulted. 

During this time a young man described by witnesses as Middle Eastern handed out anti-Semitic fliers on a busy street in central Oslo that instructed the public how to harass Jews by dumping garbage by the synagogue, desecrating the Jewish cemetery, and drawing anti-Semitic cartoons. Young white pro-Palestinians marched with placards bearing the slogan "Kill Jews" daubed across them in Arabic. 

I visited the only kosher café in Oslo, tucked into the corner of an attractive store selling pottery and vintage goods. With enough space for just six people, Oscar's Gate 54 is owned and run by Janne Jaffe Hesstvedt, a leading member of the Norway branch of the Women's International Zionist Organisation. Her views on Israel are moderate (she is married to an Israeli with whom she argues passionately about some issues) and she is bewildered at the situation she, a third-generation Norwegian, finds herself in. 

"It was a pogrom," she said, referring to the anti-Israel demonstrations of January 2009. "I think some of the migrant Muslims get the message that they have a free reign here."

Hesstvedt told about the changes she has seen in Oslo in recent years. "After 9/11 my daughter was verbally attacked by some Muslim boys who shouted, ‘Bloody Jews, go back to where you came from.' The school principal did not take it   seriously."

I ask if she dislikes Muslims. "No. Look at us, we are so similar, we are like cousins, but there is this terrible thing between us. I don't hate them but I do not trust them. I am scared of them."

I was invited to Hesstvedt's home for Shabbat dinner and met her husband Moshe and various friends and family. We ate gefilte fish and challah and the atmosphere was as warm and inclusive an occasion as Friday night with Jews is supposed to be. 

View Full Article
July 18th, 2015
10:07 AM
I am disappointed in what I am reading in this and other articles dealing with this subject. I am an American of Jewish ancestry who would like to emigrate elsewhere due to America being such an angry country. Norsk og Engelsk are similar languages and I have been teaching myself how to speak Norwegian in my spare time. On the surface Norway would be an ideal escape for a person like myself for that and other more personal reasons. Unfortunately this is something that I don’t give much thought to as an American but I might have to deal with in the event that I do eventually settle elsewhere. I am neither religious nor am I a "Zionist" in any way shape or form. In fact I can be quite critical of Israel and the blind support of their government and culture by my relatives and fellow Jews (which has alienated me from my family). With that said the Islamists are certainly no angels either. Hate breeds hate. Intolerance breeds intolerance. It is sad to me that a country that is so beautiful and affluent would allow ethnic hate to fester leaves me with one less country to consider moving to. That is such a shame. I'm a nice guy. If you met me you'd probably like me. I love God however I hate religion and this is the reason why.

Aga Field
March 28th, 2015
11:03 AM
Israel/Palestine. It didn't have to be the way it is. The UN allowed the State of Israel to be born If its arab neighbours had welcomed it back we wouldn't have what we have today. Nasser and others tried to push the Jews into the sea. The result is what you have now. The Palestinians are fools led by criminals.

Trevor Greig
November 12th, 2014
7:11 PM
Having worked offshore in Norway I have to sadly confirm that what the author says is all too true. A pity that such disgraceful behaviour besmirches the name of the many decent Norwegians who are brave up enough to stand up for the true values of a free society. I recall a South African colleague, a person of great moral integrity who had already paid a price for his stance against apartheid, who was astounded when a Statoil Rep, Gustaf Duncehead, who was known for anti-Israel stance, on the rig, Stena Don, which he was working on at the time, told him "it is a pity that Hitler did not finish what he started with the Jews". My South African colleague voiced his disgust and subsequently submitted a statement via email about this to Statoil stating what happened. He never received a reply, and to the best of his knowledge no investigation was carried out by Statoil on the matter. A very shameful affair!

October 31st, 2014
9:10 PM
to nunnunetc: If you want to make aliyah find the organisation called Ebenezer Operation Exodus and ask for their help or go to their website.They help the Jewish people with expenses and flights.

February 26th, 2014
1:02 AM
I am a Norwegian Jew, and let me tell you: Its a lonely business. I dont live in Oslo, so I can't talk to other Jews and feel a sense of cultural closeness. The university I attended for many years is known for its very leftist views, and is overly critical of Israel, that means people all around don't seem too happy about befriending the likes of me. Not that anyone has said anything mean, but you get the eerie feeling that you dont really belong. Everywhere you go. Its like beeing an elephant on their sofa. The J-word. The bignose. Not one of them, a thing one must tolerate but not befriend... If I had the resources I would buy a oneway ticket to Israel and never look back. My only hope is that someday I can live there, because Norway is not a home for us Jews. By the constitutional Jew paragraph from 1814, we were'nt even allowed entrance to the Norwegian kingdome. they revoked it some time later, but only on paper.

October 15th, 2013
7:10 PM
re. the survey mentioned on page 3: the statement was: " "I am disappointed in the way the Jews, with their particular history, treat the Palestinians" but the author writes "This, remember, is a survey of Norwegian gentiles (fewer than 5 per cent of whom are Muslim) speaking about NORWEGIAN Jews" - wouldn't that be a statement about ISRAELI Jews? Since Norwegian Jews cannot be presumed to treat Palestinians any differently than Norwegian gentiles? IF the author could comment on this point that would be great, I'm researching anti-semitism in Norway and the point is not minor.

Morris Givner,Ph.D.
August 31st, 2013
9:08 AM
The Norwegian people have an oil heritage fund worth over 800 billion U.S. dollars .Why does the Norwegian Government and people use their enormous wealth to fund Arab terrorism against tiny Israel-the only democratic nation in the Middle East among the incredibly rich 22 nations of the Arab world? The answer:deep -seeded anti Semitism going back to the disgusting antiSemitism of the teachings of Martin Luther.Lest you have forgotten:Jews gave you Jesus and countless other cultural gifts throughout the ages including more Nobel Prize winners than other people on the Planet Earth.

Post your comment

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
More Dispatches
Popular Standpoint topics