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February 26, 2024 2:35 pm
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Antisemitism in Norway At Highest Levels Since WWII, Says Local Rabbi

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avatar by Troy O. Fritzhand

Norwegian student Marie Andersen carries an antisemitic sign at an Oct. 21 pro-Hamas demonstration in Warsaw, Poland. Photo: Screenshot

Antisemitism in Norway is at its highest level since World War II, the rabbi of the country’s capital city of Oslo told Israeli television on Monday.

“There is a wave of antisemitism that we have not seen before,” said Rabbi Joav Melchior, who was born in Oslo but raised in Israel and currently leads the roughly 2,000 strong Jewish community of Oslo. “We haven’t seen such a wave since World War II, such an aggressive wave of antisemitism, even at the level of what is said in the media.”

“This is expressed in the things that people say both against Israel, both against Zionists and against Jews, which they did not say in the past,” he continued. “It’s something that would not have been accepted in the public discourse without a very harsh reaction.”

The rabbi’s comments follow actions by the Norwegian government that have been explicitly anti-Israel. Speaking at a conference two weeks after the October 7 massacre — when Hamas terrorists stormed southern Israel, murdering over 1,200 and taking hostage more than 250 — Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide condemned Israel and not Hamas. Additionally, he compared Israel’s defensive response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, as well as forbidding the King of Norway from sending a letter of support and condolence to Israel following the attack.

In late October, a young Norwegian woman caused outrage around the world by carrying a viciously antisemitic placard at a pro-Hamas demonstration in Warsaw. The woman defended her behavior in an interview with a Norwegian broadcaster, characterizing the State of Israel as “dirty” and underlining that her main regret was that the furor she generated had “undermined the pro-Palestinian movement.”

Melchior continued in the interview, saying, “There were certain cases of violence against Jews, both in their homes and on the street. Those people claim that they are not against Jews, because there are Jews who condemn Israel. It is as if the alibi of the anti-Jewish movement is to say that they are not antisemitic.” Despite this, he said that it is still safe to walk around the streets.

Due to the rise is antisemitism and the general anti-Israel sentiment in the country, Melchior said many Jews are debating whether they want to continue living in Norway.

“I think the reason for immigrating to Israel should not be because of antisemitism, but out of Zionism and out of a connection to the people of Israel and the desire to live in the Land of Israel, and that is what we educate,” he added.

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