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PAGE 16A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 20, 2017 Israelis and Norwegians clash over Holocaust, antiSemitism By Rafael Medoff JERUSALEM--A new study of anti-Semitic at- titudes in Norway has trig- gered a lively debate over the degree of hostility toward Jews and Israel in that Scandinavian country. The controversy has left some Israeliswondering if Norway has joined the growing list of European countries that seem to be turning against the Jewish state. The study was published in May by the Center for Studies of the Holocaust and Religious Minorities, which is associated with the University of Oslo. Be- tween 11 and 13 percent of Norwegians questioned in the survey expressed strong anti-Semitic sentiments. According to Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, former chair- " man of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the most significant finding of the study was that 38 percent of Norwegians believe Israeli policy toward the Palestin- ians is similar to Nazi Ger- many's treatment of Jews. Gerstenfeid notes that the European Union's criteria for defining anti-Semitism includes "drawing compari- sons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis." Hence, if 38 percent of Norwegians hold this view, "one can conclude that the number of Norwegian anti- Semites is close to 1.5 mil- lion," Gerstenfeld recently wrote for Ynet. Gerstenfeld is the author of a 2008 book, Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews, which argues that anti-Semitism and anti-Israel hostility are more widespread in Scan- dinavia than is generally recognized. Honoring a Nazi sympa- thizer Current tensions over Norwegian attitudes toward the Holocaust first emerged three years ago, when the Norwegian government launched a yearlong celebra- tion of the life and work of a Nobel Prize-winnlng novelist who supported.the Nazis. The author, Knut Hamsun, shocked his coun- trymen during the war by welcoming the 1940 Nazi occupation of Norway, meet- ing personally with Adolf Hitler and Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, and sending his Nobel Prize to Goebbels as a gift. The Norwegian government also provided $20 million to underwrite the celebra- tions and build a museum to honor Hamsun. Ironically, the only other Norwegian to win a No- bel Prize, novelist Sigrid Undset, was the complete opposite of Hamsun:Dur- ing World War II, she was a co-chair of the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe, better known as the Bergson Group, a political action committee in the United States which lobbied for res- cue of Jews from the Nazis. The Norwegian authorities have shown no interest in honoring Ms. Undset. As hostile incidents multi- plied in 2009-2010--includ- ing harassment of Jewish school children in Norway and harsh verbal attacks on Israel by prominent Nor- wegians--then-U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, chairman of the Norwegian Caucus in Congress, spoke up. In a letter to the Norwegian ambassador in Washington in August 2010, Brownback warned that"continued un- addressed negative attacks and behaviors [by promi- nent Norwegians hostile to Israel] lends to further hate and anti-Semitism." Matters escalated early last year, when attorney and pro-Israel advocate Alan Dershowitz visited Israel under the auspices of local pro-Israel activists. Although prominent critics of Israel such as post-Zionist author Ilan Pappe and Ste- phen Walt, coauthor of The Israel Lobby, have been in- vited to speak at Norwegian universities, Dershowitz re- ceived different treatment Bergen University asked him to speak about his role in the O.J. Simpson case, "as long as I was willing to promise not to mention Israel," Dershowitz later revealed. "Jewish pro-Israel speakers are subject to a de facto boycott" by Norwegian universities, Dershowitz charged. A climate of hatred? In a subsequent op-ed, Caroline Glick, deputyman- aging editor of the Jeru- salem Post, wrote that an "intellectual and political climate of hatred towards Israel and Jews pervades Norwegian society." She charged that this climate "has been a mainstay of Nor- wegian society" since 1929, when Norway outlawed the kosher slaughtering of livestock. Norway's deputy foreign minister, Espen Barth Eide, responded with an op-ed in the Post calling Glick's criticism "incorrect and disappointing." In an interview with JNS. org, Gerstenfeld said that Eide's position was "long on generalities and short on substance, failing to respond specifically to the evidence of Norway's tilt against Israel." Gerstenfeld noted that Norwegian sociologist Jo- han Galtung, known as the "father of peace studies," added fuel to the fire earlier this year when he publicly blamed the Mossad for the massacre of Norwegian schoolchildren by right- wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik. Galtung also urged the Norwegian public to read The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the notorious 19th-century Czarist antisemitic forgery. "The continual slanders of Israel make Deputy For- eign Minister Eide's denial of the pervasiveness of anti- Semitism seem hollow," Gerstenfeld said. Gerstenfeld's writings concerning attitudes in Norway recently set off a new round of fireworks. A Norwegian Jewish leader, Erwin Kohn, writing in the Oslo newspaper Dagen last year, accused Gerstenfeld of calling Norway "the most anti-Semitic country in Europe," a characterization that Kohn strongly denied. However, that phrase actually was used not by Gerstenfeld, but by Norwe- gian author and historian Hanne Nabintu Herland, in an interview with Gersten- feld for Israel National News earlier this year. Herland charged that the Norwegian government "is promoting an extreme one-sided and negative stance toward Israel" and is "creating" a politically-correct hatred of Israel among people in the country." Gerstenfeld has chal- lenged Erwin Kohn to a public debate. Kohn has not yet responded. Meanwhile, Kristina Furnes, a Norwegian gradu- ate student in Israel, at- tacked Gerstenfeld in an op-ed on Ynet. She wrote that Gerstenfeld and his peers "paint a false and exaggerated picture in their promotion of Norway as a major purveyor of anti- Semitism." Furnes called Gerstenfeld an "extremist" who has "hijacked the debate about Scandinavian anti- Semitism." The former editor of Dagen, Odd Sverre Hove, responded with an essay charging Furnes with"trivi- alizing" evidence of Nor- wegian anti-Semitism. He wrote that his own analysis of attitudes in Norway led him to conclusions similar to those of Gerstenfeid. Gerstenfeld, for his part, seems unfazed by his crit- ics and believes the re- cent debates have had a long-overdue impact on Norway's leaders. "The Norwegian government no longer says that there is no anti-Semitism, but has moved to a position that Norway isn't worse than other countries," he notes: "That's progress. They have a long way to go in facing the truth, but at least they are starting to move in the right direction, even if very slowly and grudgingly." Dr. Rafael Medoff is founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, in Washington, D.C. Europe's Jews still chasing an elusive collective identity By Ruth Ellen Gruber BUDAPEST (JTA)--Is there such a thing as a Eu- ropean Jewish identity? Can such an identity be created? What clout can European Jewry wield in global Jewish affairs? Jewish policymakers have debated these questions ever since the fall of com- munism in the early 1990s erased east-west borders and opened the way to a new Jew- ish chapter in Europe. Back then, some strategists saw fostering a European Jewish identity as key to the politi- cal goal of making European Jewry a "third pillar"--or equal player--alongside ProblemS Got00i Center for Counseling and Consulting 407.388.4738 www. Perry Klein, MC, LMHc, NCC, CCMHC Psychotherapist, License # MH9964 Tricare Provider we are gour source for: Mtofior, 13rc-'hur I_etled':lds  Cards, Progrorr F'uers Pc't Cords Forrr Digital Photograph- l_abe- Drect 407.767.7110 vww. e! 205 North Street Longwood, FL 32750 il HANDYMAN SERVICE Handy man and General Maintenance Air Conditioning Electrical Plumbing Carpentry Formerly handled maintenance at JCC References available STEVE'S SERVICES Call Steve Doyle at (386) 668-8960 Jews in Israel and North America. Today it is clear that the optimistic ideal of a pan-European Jewish iden- tity remains elusive and the political goal of European Jewry as a strong third pillar has yet to materialize. Yet rejuvenated efforts are under way to tackle the challenge. But what happened to damper the initial enthusi- asm for the idea? For one thing, "French Jews are very French; UK Jews are very British. It's a simple fact," said Rabbi Andrew Baker, director of international Jewish affairs for the American Jewish Committee. "Eastern Eu- ropean communities had many challenges during these last two decades in re- establishing Jewish life. But in the process we have also seen how they were pulled closer to their respective governments' policies and views." Or, as put by Barry Kos- min, who recently directed a survey of European Jewish leaders for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee's International Center for Community De- velopment, "We have aspira- tions versus reality." The survey polled 328 "Jewish leaders and opinion formers" in 32 countries, and as far as Europe was concerned, it demonstrated a dramatic gap between theory and practice. Most respondents "strong- ly supported" Jewish solidar- ity and a European Jewish identity, but only22 percent had "direct knowledge" of other Jewish communities in Europe and only 15 percent said they were familiar with "the goals and programs" of the main European Jewish organizations. Finally, more than 70 per- cent agreed that "European Jewry is not composed of integrated communities across the continent." Kosmin presented the survey finding in June at a conference in Barcelona sponsored by the JDC and the European Council of Jewish Communities, an umbrella organization that recently revived operations in an attempt to kick-start closer European cooperation. The data;said ECJC Presi- dent Evan Lazar, prove the need for his group. "The fact that the survey shows that so few com- munity leaders know what is happening with other European Jewish commu- nities validates the purpose and reason for being of the ECJC," Lazar, a Prague- based lawyer, told JTA. The survey findings in fact reflect how both pros- pects and conditions have changed since the heady post-communist days of the 1990s. "There was a lot of opti- mism at the time, and look- ing back now it is clear that it was not justified," Baker said. "But understanding why is more difficult." Baker, who helped orga- nize a number of conferences and other initiatives promot- ing European Jewish identity and integration, said the lack of success was due to a com- bination of factors. Changed realities in the global arena, of course, played amajor role: among them the collapse of the Middle East peace process, the second intifada, the rise of Islamic extremism and spikes in anti-Semitism largely linked to growing Arab and Muslim communi- ties in Europe. "Most European Jewish communities today face sig- nificant security concerns that no one imagined at the time of our conferences in the 1990s," he said. The official report on a 1995 meeting in Prague-- the first major conference on pan-European Jewish identity issues--declared in fact that it had taken place at a time "when Israel is not un- der threat and the problems of anti-Semitism no longer pose an immediate danger." But, Baker told JTA, in- ternal Jewish failures also helped thwart expectations. For one thing, the AJC of- ficial said, strategists had not realized how "nationally connected" European Jew- ish communities were and still are. Jronicaily, he added, "To- day it is the need to con- front common concerns and threatsanti-Semitism and anti-Israel campaigns pri- marily-that serves as the basis for pan-European and pan-Diaspora cooperation." Against this background, Jewish strategists and poli- cymakers are attempting to chart new courses. "We are living in a time of multiple and shifting identi- ties," said Mario Izcovich, director of pan-European programs at the JDC. "It is not a fixed picture; people don't seem to want to belong to anything permanently." Still, he told JTA, the concept of European Jewry as the third pillar of world Jewry remains aviable politi- cal model to aim for. "It simply cannot be that political issues regarding Jews can be discussed just by Israel and the U.S.," Izcovich said. Hampering efforts, say some strategists and re- searchers, is a growing dis- connect in some countries between mainstream Jewish institutions and the way Jew- ish lives are lived. Informal networks and alternative initiatives, they said, are increasingly important, par- ticularly for younger Jews. "Real identity comes in an informal way," said Mircea Cernov, who heads Haver, a Budapest-based NGO that teaches schoolchildren about Judaism and the Jewish peo- ple. "Real connections based on Jewish identity come outside Jewish institutions, just as real Jewish life is not according to the formaliza- tion of Jewish organizations and institutions." Sociologist Andras Ko- vacs, who has charted the development of Jewish life in Hungary for decades and co- ordinated a survey released in 2011 on Jewish identity in five post-communist Eu- ropean countries, agreed. In many places, he told JTA, "new initiatives come from civic groups, not from the es- tablished Jewish community." Moreover, Kovacs adds, "What people say about their identity is different from European Jewish politics and Jewish institutional politics. Regarding Jewish identity, the data show that a sense of European-ness does exist. But it is not so present in the Jewish leadership." That leaves Europe's Jew- ish leaders--just like many in America--trying to con- nect their goals to the reali- ties of the people they seek to unite.