A report was published in May of 2012 of results from a survey of Norwegian attitudes toward Jews and other minorities undertaken by the Center for Studies of the Holocaust and Religious Minorities (HL-center). According to the researchers, prejudice in Norway was quite small, and in a European context, the prevalence of anti-Semitic notions in Norway is on a par with Great Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden.
However, pro-Israel author Bruce Bawer says Norway, his adopted homeland, is quickly becoming one of the world’s leading capitals of Jew-hatred. The government has willingly opened its arms to embrace Islamic terrorists. And there is a reason for this ideology of hate—radical leftism has a historical stranglehold on Norwegians.
An Oslo Municipality Report in 2011 showed one third of Jewish pupils are physically threatened or abused. The Oslo student survey was undertaken after Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) aired a series of reports in March of 2010 exposing a “shocking” level of anti-Semitism in some Norwegian schools.
The Holocaust Centre report presents the results of the first comprehensive population study in Norway on attitudes toward Jews and other minorities. Data were collected in November 2011 by TNS Gallup with 1522 respondents participating in the survey. The report can be read (in Norwegian) by hitting here.
The survey was conducted on behalf of Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion (BLD), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Justice. Last year, the Norwegian government gave the centre three million kroner to chart Norwegians' views about Jews, as well as providing anti-Semitism teaching courses.
The results confirm that stereotypical notions of Jews do exist in Norwegian society. Overall, approximately 12.5 per cent of the population can be considered significantly prejudiced against Jews. This prejudice was measured by a social distance scale consisting of three items: to what extent they would like or dislike Jews to be (1) brought into their circle of friends, (2) neighbors, or (3) married into their family: 9 percent replied that they would resent having a Jew in their circle of friends, 10 percent responded that they would resent having a Jew as a neighbor, and 33 percent said that they would resent that a Jew married into the family.
Anti-Semitism, however, can also be measured by negative feelings towards Jews.
A quite high 39% felt that "Jews have too much influence over American foreign policy.” That “Jews view themselves as being better than others” received the agreement of 26 % of the survey respondents. Believing that there is some sort of global Jewish conspiracy, 19 % agreed with the statement that ‘the world's Jews are working in secret to advance Jewish interests.’
Also a relatively large share of 13 per cent believes that Jews themselves are to blame for their persecution. The corresponding number for neighboring Sweden is just 2 per cent, and for Germany 10 per cent.
Respondents were also asked about their experiences with the use of the word "Jew" as an insult. About half said they have heard the word used in this way. Asked by their reaction to hearing the word Jew used as an insult by someone they knew, 39 % said they would find it uncomfortable, and another 39 % said “It is not acceptable.”
In a possible positive view of Jews, 64% agreed that family is dear for Jews.
Norwegian attitudes toward the Holocaust are complex: On the one hand, there is a strong belief in the necessity of Holocaust education. On the other, a refutation of the belief that the Holocaust provides grounds for any particular considerations regarding Israel and contemporary Jewry.
There is widespread consensus in the Norwegian population on the importance of Holocaust education. Practically everyone agrees that pupils should learn about the fate of the Norwegian Jews during World War II, with three out of four stating that this is an important part of Norwegian history. A clear majority also believes that Jews today have the right to remind international society of what occurred during World War II.
At the same time an equally clear majority dismisses the notion that the Holocaust gives Israel the right to any kind of special treatment. Rather, the Holocaust is used against Israel and to some degree against Jews in general. One out of four believes that Jews today exploit the memory of the Holocaust to their own advantage.
To what degree are Norwegian attitudes toward Jews connected to attitudes toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Aiming to answer this question, the survey mapped attitudes toward the Middle East conflict.
Manfred Gerstenfeld described the Norwegian government as making frequent harsh verbal attacks on Israel in recent years. The same is true for large segments of Norway’s cultural elite, including many media outlets, several Lutheran bishops, university leaders, trade unions and NGOs.
Almost two thirds of respondents agreed with the statement "I am disappointed in the way the Jews, with their particular history, treat the Palestinians," and 38 % believe that Israel's treatment of the Palestinians is similar to Nazi treatment of the Jews during World War II.
While approximately half of the respondents take no stand regarding this conflict, 13 % support Israel and 38 % support the Palestinians.
Respondents can be grouped into three categories: pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian (critical of Israel) and radically anti-Israel. The second category, pro-Palestinian, dominates, and respondents who fall into this category often express disappointment in Israel. When asked about changes in their attitude toward Israel, 29 % say it has changed in a negative direction (and only 2 per cent in a positive direction).
The analysis demonstrates a clear connection between anti-Semitism and attitudes toward the Middle East conflict: respondents with anti-Semitic attitudes often support anti-Israeli statements and disagree with pro-Israeli statements. This, however, does not imply that anti-Semitism motivates all those who support anti-Israeli statements. Half of those who support such radical positions show no anti-Semitic attitudes whatsoever.
This holds to an even larger degree for those who support a more moderate pro-Palestinian view of the conflict. In this group, 75 per cent show no anti-Semitic attitudes, while 15 per cent show only moderate Attitude, while 15 per cent show only moderate anti-Semitic attitudes. Thus, the connection between anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli attitudes seems to be more complex than what is sometimes asserted in public debates, which are often sharply polarized.
This connection between attitudes toward Israel and anti-Semitism was supported by a study published on March 20, 2012 by the American Anti-Defamation League. In a poll conducted in ten European countries, one of the questions posed to the respondents was: Is your attitude toward Jews affected by the actions undertaken by the State of Israel? 39 % of Norwegians say yes. (See graph above)
Norwegians claim to a much greater extent than other Europeans that violence against Jews in their own country is a result of anti-Israel attitudes and anti-Jewish attitudes: 56 % believe violence against Jews in Norway due to anti-Israeli attitudes, only 19 % believe it is due to anti-Jewish attitudes.
The study also showed that Norwegians are more prejudiced against certain other minorities, with Muslims, Somalis and Romany (gypsies) people subject to the highest levels of discrimination.
(Picture is of Project leader Christhard Hoffmann looks on as Equality Minister Inga Marte Thorkildsen (r) shakes hands with researcher Øyvind Kopperud)
Study coordinator Øyvind Kopperud at the Holocaust Centre believes it is important to underline that few at school, university, and their place of employment have Jewish colleagues or friends. There are an estimated 1,200 Jews living in Norway in a population of 4,855,000. About 950 members live in Oslo.
“So when they talk about Jews and their views on Jews, they talk about the mythical "Jew", and this is completely different from the attitude of other minorities that are quite visible,” he said.
The survey’s report concluded with four recommendations for improving the climate for Jews and other minorities. These include providing more information in schools about Jewish history, anti-Semitism, and prejudices against other minorities.
The authors also propose carrying out a similar survey every five years, as well as compiling comparable surveys for other minorities. According to the researchers behind the study, the Norwegian police should begin keeping records of any hate crimes with anti-Semitic motives.