Iceland’s New Antisemitic Threshold – A Psychiatric Illness?
Iceland is more than its tourist posters of geysers, volcanoes, the singer Bjork and the Northern Lights. It has now stretched antisemitism to new outer limits, rendering it almost a psychiatric disorder.
An Icelandic “artist,” Snorri Asmundsson, has posted a YouTube clip to the background of Israel’s natural anthem, HaTikva (The Hope), featuring a woman in a burqa pulled out of the frame by a man wearing a star of David armband, transvestites lampooning Israel’s Eurovision contest singer, Dana International, and two Down’s Syndrome young men dressed as orthodox Jewish Hassidim.
Asmundsson, apparently challenges accusations that his clip is antisemitic, by weirdly arguing that such claims would be construed as collectively offending LBGT transsexuals and the handicapped.
When I was invited to address the dozen, mainly Lutheran, members of the Icelandic – Israel Friendship group in Reykjavik in 1986, there were very few Jews residing in Iceland. Today they number less than one hundred and several fear to be publicly identified.
Already, at that time, the group was concerned at the growing number of Arab students at the University developing into an anti-Israeli lobby.
They spoke of the 1934 establishment of the Iceland Nazi Party and the 1930’s deportation of Jewish fugitives from Nazi Germany. The high-point came after the Anglo-American occupation in 1941, aimed to block an Axis invasion that would have controlled the Atlantic sea-routes. 1941-1945 saw over 2,000 Jewish soldiers billeted in Iceland.
In 1998, the Wiesenthal Centre’s Efraim Zuroff forced public attention to Icelandic hospitality granted Estonian Nazi collaborator, Ewald Mixon, better known to Icelanders as Edward Hinriksson,a football goalee with two sons playing in the national team. His death and government procrastination relieved the authorities of bringing him to justice.
The 2003 marriage of Israeli-born, British diamond heiress Dorrit Moussaieff, to Iceland’s – no friend of Israel – President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, was hoped to improve the relationship. The First Lady, however, stayed away from Jewish contacts and has now, reportedly, resumed her residency in London.
Following the 2008 bank crashes,perhaps in the context of seeking Arab financial relief, Moussouef was accused as being “part of a Jewish conspiracy”. Perhaps seeking Muslim bloc support for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, the government became ever more anti-Israel An opinion poll marked 70 percent of the 320,000 Icelanders as pro-Palestinian and only 30 percent as pro-Israel.
The Gaza operations saw solidarity rallies, as elsewhere in Europe, brandishing antisemitic slogans and imagery. A bicycle-shop in Reykjavik posted a warning: “Jews Unwelcome.”
Now Iceland, so proud of its Althing, Europe’s first Parliament and its ostensible concern for the oppressed – is the first country to host a new and sickening threshold in antisemitism: the conflation of “Jew,” “Zionist,” “Trans-sexual” and “Down’s Syndrome” – thereby belittling the cause and the rights of each.
Is this new emanation a political stratagem or a mental illness? If the latter, there may still be hope for a psychiatric cure.