- Many Norwegian journalists and leaders espouse the traditional mainstream European
anti-Jewish attitudes. Norwegian anti-Semitism does not come from the grassroots
but from the leadership - politicians, organization leaders, church leaders, and senior
journalists. It does not come from Muslims but from the European-Christian society.
- Despite the fact that the Norwegian law and constitution grant freedom of religion to
everyone, Norway is one of the few countries in the world where Jewish ritual slaughter
(shechita) of animals is forbidden. The ban was introduced three years before the Nazis
took power in Germany and continues till today, whereas Muslim ceremonial slaughter
(hallal) is permitted.
- Over the past thirty years, Norwegian media caricatures have sustained a high level of
demonization of Jews and the state of Israel. These include portraying Jews as heartless,
peace-hating, enemies of humanity, Nazi, bloodthirsty, child-killers, and controllers of
the world. This trend has been rapidly increasing over the past years.
Anti-Semitism's Christian Origins
The notion of anti-Semitism in today's Norway may seem strange. The country is
often portrayed as a calm and universally friendly corner of the European continent.
Although Norway may have a record as a humanitarian peacemaker, mainly due to the
Nobel Peace Prize that the Swede Alfred Nobel financed and Norway awards, many of
its journalists and leaders espouse the traditional mainstream European anti-Jewish
attitudes. Norwegian anti-Semitism does not come from the grassroots but from the
leadership - politicians, organization leaders, church leaders, and senior journalists. It
does not come from Muslims but from the European-Christian society.
Historically, anti-Semitism appeared early in Norway. Around 1000 CE, centuries
before Jews came to Norway, Christianity was introduced there along with the concomitant
theological anti-Semitism.1 That suggests that the reason for anti-Semitism was not anything
the Jews did, but Christianity. Although Jews and Judaism were not directly outlawed at that
time, in 1025 King Olav introduced a law requiring the people in the kingdom to be Christians.
In 1436, Archbishop Aslak Bolt forbade the practice of Shabbat in a Jewish manner.2 In 1569,
the Danish king Fredrik II, who also ruled Norway, introduced a law demanding that all subjects
either follow the Evangelical Lutheran faith or leave the country within three days; otherwise
their property would be confiscated and they would be executed.
In 1620, the first Jews were allowed to reside in
Norway. In 1651, however, Jews were forbidden to travel
in the kingdom.3
Although the attitude toward Jews varied over time,
it was never the same as toward Christians. In 1670, Jews
were allowed entrance to the kingdom if they paid enough
money and proved able to improve its economy. This was
true for Denmark and Sweden as well.
A Ban on Jews
When the Norwegian National Assembly in 1814 drafted
its modern constitution ostensibly based on the principles of
the French and American revolutions, a clause was inserted
stating that Jews and Jesuits were not to be admitted to
the country. This was stipulated in the second paragraph
of the document. That so-called "Jewish paragraph" was
annulled in 1851 after a long struggle led by the national
poet, Henrik Wergeland.
As European anti-Semitism intensified during the
nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Norwegians were
quick to learn from it and put it into practice. The country's
newspapers actively propagandized against the Jews. For
example, in 1930 Aftenposten, Norway's most important
paper, ran an article on its editorial pages about "the
Jew sucking through his drinking straw into the nation's
glass." In 1933, seven years before the Germans occupied
Norway, Aftenposten editor Johannes Nesse expressed his
understanding for the Nazi attitude toward the Jews and
asked "not to show them exaggerated sympathy."
Ritual Slaughter Forbidden
Getting rid of the Jews was not an alien notion to the
Norwegians, who heard their parliamentarians and ministers
propounding racialist theory and expressing anti-Semitic
ideas. In 1929, Member of Parliament Jens Hundseid told the
parliament that: "We haven't invited the Jews to our land
and we have no obligation to hand over animals to them for
their religious orgies."4 Soon after, the Jewish ritual slaughter
(shechita) of animals was forbidden.
In principle, the Norwegian law and constitution grant
freedom of religion to everyone. In practice, the one exception is
the Jews. Norway is one of the few countries in the world where
shechita is still banned. In Germany, shechita was forbidden
only during the Nazi period. In Norway, however, the ban was
introduced three years before the Nazis took power in Germany
and continues till today, whereas Muslim ceremonial slaughter
(hallal) is permitted. Compassion for animals does not explain
the ban on shechita, since hunting is permitted and popular in
Norway. About 150,000 people (3 percent of the population) are
registered hunters;5 hunted prey often suffers a much slower
and more painful death than in Jewish ritual slaughter.
When Hundseid became prime minister (1932-1933),
he stated in a speech in the parliament: "Many of those
foreigners who come to our country are of an inferior race.
Their heredity is bad, but their reproduction is very virile
and fast. Our race suffers because of this immigration."6
Hundseid was intensely anti-Semitic and clearly directed
these words at the Jews. However, anti-Judaism was a part of
Norwegian racism. In 1934, his party member Erling Bjørnson
proposed and led the parliamentary debate on a new law of
forced sterilization,7 which was practiced by the Norwegian
government during the years 1934-1977.
Forced sterilization was part of the plan to improve the
Norwegian race, which was Germanic and Aryan. At that
time, racial theory and hygiene were common in European
culture. The Gypsies were considered to be inferior and in
Norway, to prevent the "contamination of the race," they
were subjected to forced sterilizations. So were "mentally
weak" ethnic Norwegians. The Norwegian government and
church also implemented an "assimilation policy" aimed at
creating a single, "healthy" Norwegian people. Minorities
such as the Gypsies and the Sámi (Lapps) suffered oppression,
and their children were forcibly separated from their families
and sent to be raised "as Norwegians."8
It was in Hundseid's government that Vidkun Quisling
was appointed defense minister. Quisling later founded the
Norwegian Nazi Party, Nasjonal Samling, in which Hundseid
also became a member until 1945. After the war Quisling
became the scapegoat for treason and with his trial and
execution, Norway was "cleansed."
Contemporary Recycling of Anti-Semitism
Many anti-Semitic caricatures that have flourished
in recent years in all the major Norwegian newspapers
recycle traditional anti-Jewish motifs. In some cases the
link between past and present goes deeper. When the bells
of the Oslo Cathedral ring, not everyone can enjoy the sound
because its bell chime was financed by a Norwegian Nazi
veteran, Ørnulf Myklestad,9 who apparently never changed
his mind about the Jews. He also contributed to publishing
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Norwegian.10
In 2002, the Simon Wiesenthal Center listed Norway
as one of the countries that did little to investigate, let
alone prosecute, the Nazi war criminals.11 The Norwegian
Defense Ministry authorized in 1988 the obliteration of an
archive containing information on the Norwegian people and
organizations sympathizing with communists or Nazis.12 The
archive was erased in 1994 when the World Jewish Congress
and Bjørn Westlie, a journalist for the Norwegian business
daily Dagens Næringsliv, were gathering information on
Nazism and the Jewish property plundered in Norway.
As the issue of Nazism was covered up, the Norwegian
media continued to criticize Israel. The assertion that
criticism of Israel differs from anti-Semitism is largely used
as an excuse to avoid recognizing anti-Semitism and defend
its continued practice. In reality, much criticism of Israel has
an anti-Semitic character.13
Common Norwegian citizens should not be allowed to
evade their responsibility with the claim that they cannot
control the media. Had enough Norwegians complained to the
newspapers about anti-Semitic expressions, the phenomenon
would have vanished in a short time. Norwegians, however,
do not complain or take responsibility, and many agree with
the message in the caricatures.
Caricatures and Mass Communication
After World War II, Jew-hatred receded in Norway.
It resurfaced, however, in the 1970s when the Norwegian
media spread propaganda about the Jews' alleged atrocities
against the Palestinian Arabs.
Over the past thirty years, Norwegian media caricatures
have sustained a high level of demonization of Jews and the
state of Israel. Although not as crude as Arab ones,14 Norwegian
caricatures use many of the same motifs. These originated in
Europe and including portraying Jews as heartless, peacehating,
enemies of humanity, Nazi, bloodthirsty, child-killers,
and controllers of the world.15 Only a small sample of these
depictions will be presented below.
No other means of conveying a message to the public
works more swiftly and effectively than pictures, drawings,
and caricatures. Christian Europe has used them to demonize
Jews for centuries.16 The technique was perfected by German
ingenuity, helping lay the groundwork for the Holocaust.
Jews were depicted as scoundrels, parasites, and vermin who
threatened Germany and the civilized world, and could be
dealt with only by destroying them.
The Holocaust revealed that centuries of Christian17
anti-Semitism had mentally prepared almost every country
of Europe, including Norway, for the task of collecting their
Jews to have them looted, deported, and killed. Many people
actively contributed to the endeavor; the masses generally
remained passive and did not protest.
Rejecting the Holocaust by Silence
After the Holocaust, the Germans took some important
measures to fight anti-Semitism. But in Norway, both the
citizens and the government have tried to reject their
responsibility for the Holocaust. As a result, many Norwegian
Jews are apprehensive about today's anti-Semitism,
remembering how it built up in the past. Most of the Jews
maintain a low profile, and some feel the need to join the
critics of Israel.
Before World War II, some Norwegians would paint the
words "Palestine calling" on Jewish-owned shops. The Nazi
occupiers were assisted even by ordinary citizens in locating
the Norwegian Jews to be sent to the extermination camps.
Today, many Norwegians in demonstrations chant "Jews out
of Palestine" - the ostensibly moral demand to "end the Israeli
After the war, some Norwegian politicians, especially
from the Labor movement, supported Israel's fight for
existence. Israel's victory in the 1967 Six Day War made
the Jews of Israel popular in Norway. Soon, however, the
situation began to deteriorate as pro-Arab sentiment grew.
More recently, Norway has granted billions of Norwegian
Crowns (more than half a billion USD until 2005) to the
Palestinian Authority (PA). It has supported it politically,
among other things, by bestowing the Nobel Peace Price on
its then leader Yasser Arafat.
On 21 July 2006, while Hizballah was firing at Jewish
civilians from the north and Hamas from the south,
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg declared that
Norway would give 100 million Norwegian Crowns each
(approximately 160 million USD) to Lebanon and the PA.18
Such pronouncements and measures send a signal to the
people, from the highest level, about who the victims and
the aggressors are.
After the Holocaust, Jews both in Israel and the Diaspora
believed the establishment of a Jewish state would put an
end to anti-Semitism. Instead, to a large extent Israel became
its target, facilitating even more intensified allegations. In
addition, criticism of the Jews no longer comes exclusively
from the Church or individuals but also from governments,
Norway's being a prominent case.
The contempt for the Jews that led to the Holocaust
is still very much alive in Norway. To justify their hatred,
some now argue that the "Zionists" actually behave worse
than the Nazis did: they "occupy Palestinian land," "oppress
the Palestinians," and "kill children," just as the Nazis did in
Norway and the rest of Europe. Such comparisons flourish
and serve to cleanse the conscience of Norwegians and other
Europeans, who today support the Arabs even as many of
them strive to fulfill Europe's unfinished Holocaust.
Caricatures as a Means of Hatred
The following examples of caricatures have been
divided into eleven groups according to their message.
1. The World Is under Jewish Pressure
Image 1: Poland, 1938 (Propagandowy Kalendarz
Poznan; a propaganda calendar from the city
Image 2: "Under the Jewish Pressure" (caricature
by Inge Grødum, Aftenposten, 5 December
The similarity between these two caricatures is
startling: the Christian Europeans as the former "victims"
of the Jews have been replaced by the Muslim Arabs. The
Jew is depicted as a heavy burden on society. The former
"Jewish pressure on Christian society" has shifted to the
"Palestinian Arab people."
Both pictures try to show how the Jew callously
strangles his victim. His closed eyes indicate animosity,
his forehead is wrinkled and unpleasant. The conservative
Aftenposten is Norway's leading newspaper.
2. The Problem Is Judaism
Image 3: Syria, 2000 ( Tishreen, 19 April 2000).19
Hitler's Mein Kampf and Nazi propaganda in general
encouraged hatred of Judaism and communism and declared
total war on both. Mein Kampf was swiftly translated and
distributed in the Arab world, long before the Holocaust. Even
today, many Arabs regard Hitler's ideas as the ideal solution
to the "Jewish problem." In television, books, newspapers,
and speeches, Arab leaders often claim that the problem
with Jews stems from their traditional texts.
Image 4: "The Seven Synonyms of Death" (caricature
by Dave Coverly, Dagsavisen, 7 January 2004).
"Murder, kill, liquidate, execute" and so on are, according
to the Labor movement's newspaper, a modern version of the
Ten Commandments. The Norwegian media often use the Bible
against Israel and its religious-Christian supporters. Although
the means are sophisticated and subtle, the message is clear:
it is Judaism that causes Israelis to murder Palestinians.
3. The Jews Rule the World
Image 5: Austria, 1920 - "Juda" (Karl Paumgarten,
Image 6: Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon rules
the world (caricature by Herbjørn Skogstad, Oppland
Arbeiderblad, 18 September 2003).
In both caricatures the Jew rules the world and the victims
have no choice but to obey. The Jew manipulates the Christians
like puppets and turns them against the Muslims (note the Arab
keffiyeh, which in Norway has become a symbol for the PLO).
Here the face of the Jew expresses no feelings. He is
merciless and preoccupied with money and control. The faceless
Jew's "invisible hand" (marked "Sharon" and with a Star of
David) controls Norwegian foreign minister Jan Petersen (i.e.,
the Christians). Being under Jewish control, the Europeans can
only oppress the Palestinian Arabs (i.e., the Muslims). The motif
in the caricature is again religious, portraying Christians and
Muslims as weak and frail before the powerful Jewish giant.
Jews controlling the world is an old motif and is
central to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In Norway, a
new edition of the book has been published by the Bergman
4. The Jew: A Robber and a Parasite
A parasite is an organism that utilizes resources
gathered and possessed by others. Known examples of
parasites are viruses, ticks, rats, and in the human sphere,
thieves and robbers.
Verdens Gang has the largest circulation of Norwegian
newspapers. Its famous caricaturist Morten M. Kristiansen
portrays the Jews of Israel as parasites who stole land from
the Arabs and still want every last grain of sand. The Jew's
greed does not leave room for others - reminiscent of the
Nazis' justification for needing Lebensraum. In 1940, the
Nazi film The Eternal Jew likened Jews to rats, presenting
both as aggressive, parasitic agents that use their genetic
advantages to spread all over the world.
Image 7: "Land-Robbers Grab Every Single
Bit" (with an untranslatable pun on "Semite";
caricature by Morten M. Kristiansen, Verdens
Gang, 25 March 2004).
Image 8: "A Better Species of Human Being?"
(caricature by Ulf Aas; the title belongs to the
article by Magne Skjæraasen, Aftenposten, 6
Aftenposten's article "A Better Species of Human
Being?" described how the Israelis allegedly used their
sense of superiority to allow the massacres in the Sabra and
Shatilah refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982. The author, Magne
Skjæraasen, presents himself as a "friend of Jews." He ignores,
however, an atrocity such as the Syrian massacre of at least
twenty thousand civilians in Hama on 2 February 1982.
Skjæraasen and others like him do not criticize the PLO,
the Palestinian Authority, and other Arab and Muslim bodies
for killing thousands of Jews and seeking the destruction
of Israel. The common claim by Norwegians and others
that "we have nothing against Jews - we just oppose Israeli
aggression" is exposed by such selectivity and hypocrisy.
5. The Jew as Satan
Image 9: Germany, 1943 - "Satan" (Der Stürmer,
The faces of the "satanic Jew" are nearly identical in the
caricatures: the long "Jewish nose," the frowning forehead
symbolizing deceit, the narrow cunning eyes looking askance,
perhaps at his next victim? The wrinkles seem to indicate evil
thoughts toward both the Christians and the Muslims, represented
here by Norway's then Prime Minister Bondevik and PLO chairman
Arafat, respectively. In the 1943 caricature, the Jews were shown
as if they were threatening only the Christians.
Image 10: The Devil and the Jew (caricature by
Oddmund Mikkelsen, Hamar Arbeiderblad, 12
During the Nazi era, Der Stürmer became the most
virulently anti-Semitic publication in Germany. The
Norwegian portrayal of the Israeli prime minister in this
caricature, however, is even coarser and surpasses Der
Stürmer in depicting results of the Jew's actions: a sea of
blood and a graveyard with crosses seems to indicate that the
victims are Christians.20 The message here is again religious:
the Jew kills both Christians and Muslims. The Jewish Satan,
represented here by Sharon, is a frightening ghoul whom
Christians must fight.
6. The Jew as a Monster
In a caricature that is considered one of the most anti-
Jewish in history, the Jew is shown as a mythological monster
that endangers the world. Kikeriki was the first publication
known to focus on anti-Jewish caricatures. It was published
in Vienna and was probably the inspiration for Der Stürmer,
which began to appear in Germany in 1923. Kikeriki was
under Jewish ownership.21
The alleged nature of the leader of the Jewish state,
Ariel Sharon, needs no further explanation. Siri Dokken says
that "a political caricature does not show what a person
looks like. It is rather my personal perception of how he or
she does the job or of the situation that person is in."22
Image 11: Vienna, c. 1900 (Kikeriki)
Image 12: "The Middle East Not Quite Before
the Storm" (caricature by Siri Dokken, Dagsavisen,
4 March 2003).
Did this caricature express Dokken's and Dagsavisen's
frustration that the Jews were endangering peace in the
Middle East and perhaps the rest of the world? Or was it an
eruption of a more traditional attitude?
7. The Jew Hinders Peace
These caricatures are so similar that it is difficult
to imagine the second could have been drawn without a
sidelong glance at the first. In both, the Jew is a giant who
cares little about peace or his neighbors. In the former, the
word Jew is clearly visible to the right. In the latter, the
Jewish kippa is placed on the former Israeli prime minister's
head, although he seldom wore a kippa. Also, the nose helps
to identify the "typical Jew."
Image 13: Germany, 1933-1945, "The Jew: The
Initiator and Prolonger of War" (German Federal
Archives, Koblenz, 1933-1945).
Image 14: "With a Roadmap for Peace"
(caricature by Roar Hagen, Verdens Gang, 30
The Jew in these caricatures, with his half-closed,
drowsy eyes, has no semblance of decency or emotions. He
wields colossal power; even the mighty United States, like
Europe in the past, cannot cope with the Jewish problem.
The common message of these two caricatures is that
the Jew is the sole obstacle to peace and the cause of war.
This was said in regard to both of the world wars.
Nowadays many Norwegian and other European leaders
seem to assume that the threat of war could be avoided if
only the Jewish state would stop being arrogant, oppressive,
and expansionist. Caricatures such as the above incite against
Jews. The Nazis' "Final Solution" was passively accepted
(even by the United States) and implemented in Europe after
generations of brainwashing. Today there are efforts to create
a similar climate.
8. Secular Media Propagating Religious Ideas
Image 15: The Star of David over Bethlehem (caricature
by Inge Grødum, Aftenposten, 18 May 2002).
The (Jewish) Star of David, by replacing the (Christian)
Star of Bethlehem, informs the reader that Jewry has
converted Bethlehem into a Jewish place. Hence the Jews
are acting against the Christians, who regard Bethlehem as
a holy city. The three camel riders symbolize the Three Wise
Men who, according to Christian tradition, foresaw Jesus'
birth and came to visit him in Bethlehem, over which the
Star of Bethlehem shone.23 The caricature insinuates that
Christians have to stop Jewish violence but fail to do so.
Image 16: Israeli tanks firing at the Star of
Bethlehem (caricature by Inge Grødum, Aftenposten,
05 April 2002).
This conveys the idea that the Jews are at war with
Christianity. The symbolic number three appears in several
Image 17: "Christmas in Bethlehem" (caricature
by Inge Grødum, editorial, Aftenposten, 27
The caricature suggests how the Jews oversee
and control the Christian town of Bethlehem. Again an
impression is created that the Jews control the Christians,
a message to be remembered by the readers during the
Image 18: The Jewish plan on the Christian New
Year's Eve: Kill a Muslim (caricature by Inge
Grødum, Aftenposten, 31 December 2002).
While the (good) Christian reader celebrates the New
Year, the (evil) Jew Sharon plans to kill the Muslim Arafat.
The hanging rope is made of an Arab keffiyeh. This image
in Christian Europe reminds the Christians not to forget
their duties toward the Jews: not only to celebrate New
Year but also, in the name of love, to protect the Muslims
from the Jews.
Image 19: Christmas Eve 2002: The Star of
Bethlehem and the three wise men from the
East (caricature by Finn Graff, Dagbladet, 24
Jewish wickedness, symbolized by the Star of David
trapping Arafat, is meant to arouse Christian anger. The Three
Wise Men abandon their religious duties and ride away on
their camels. The message is obvious: the Muslims are victims
of the Jews, and the Christians must not neglect their moral
and religious duty to thwart the Jews.
Although the Norwegian media is largely secular, it
shows a fixation with religious anti-Jewish motifs, many of
which have age-old roots. Caricatures and articles create
the impression that the Jews are combating Christianity
for world domination. Although many journalists present
Israel as the world's worst problem, most know that the
"Middle East conflict" is just a fraction of the Muslim
war against all other ethnic groups, not to mention the
numerous Muslim internal wars. In many conversations
this author had with Norwegian journalists, not one
continued to deny these realities after a number of
places were mentioned, including Kashmir and Sudan,
where Muslims attack non-Muslims.
It seems that while some of the journalists simply
hate Jews, many more are simply afraid to deal with the
difficult problem and prefer the easy solution. Instead of
the frightening global jihad, they prefer to see a smaller
issue, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that supposedly can
be easily solved.
Journalists cannot express any opinion. The media that
employs them decides on guidelines and terminology to be
used.24 Two journalists even told this author that they were
pressured by colleagues for being "too positive toward Israel."
A clear factor is the common fear of Muslims; it is much
safer to blame Israel.
Anti-Israelism in the Norwegian media uses
sophisticated propaganda techniques to arouse anti-Jewish
sentiments among the public, who are subtly told that they
are also part of the conflict. Since the Jews are against
Christianity, the Christians must stand together with the
Muslim Palestinians against the Jews.
Most Norwegian media kept silent, however, when
terrorists seized the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in
April and May 2002 and held nuns and priests as hostages.
These terrorists belonged to organizations collaborating
with the PA including the PLO, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade,
and Hamas. Several had earlier participated in murderous
attacks on Jewish civilians. The Norwegian media also kept
silent while Christians were persecuted in Bethlehem after
Arafat and the PLO took control there, Bethlehem's Christian
population having declined from at least 60 percent in 1990
to 20 percent in 2001.25 But when Israeli forces surrounded
the church and tried to liberate its kidnapped employees
and arrest the terrorists, the Norwegian media suddenly
The caricatures in this group distort what actually
happened. The Jews are shown to have supplanted the Star
of Bethlehem with their own symbol, the Star of David.
The media cynically exploits the sanctity of Bethlehem and
Christmas to stir feelings of hatred against the Jews. For
centuries, incitement of this sort led to bloody attacks on
the Jews of Europe.
Arafat, who had Mein Kampf published in Ramallah,26
was responsible for the murder of more Jews than anyone
else since the Hitler era. Nevertheless, many in the Norwegian
media celebrated him as a hero and as a victim of the Jews.
Norway's economic support per inhabitant to the PLO/ PA is
far greater than any other country's.27 The fact that Hamas
has controlled the PA since January 2006 has not led Norway
to stop the funding. On April 10 2006, Foreign Minister Jonas
Gehr Støre declared that "Norway remains a major donor
to the Palestinian people. We provide about half a billion
kroner a year."28
9. The Jew as Nazi
Image 20: Sharon the Nazi (caricature by Finn
Graff, Dagbladet, 4 April 2002).
The retired secretary-general of the Norwegian Labor
Party, Haakon Lie, wrote in his autobiography: "The Labor
Party conducted serious attacks against Israel; it used
caricatures of Finn Graff, which evoked in detail the anti-
Semitic illustrations of Der Stürmer in Hitler's days and of
The Crocodile in Moscow."29
Graff, a left-wing caricaturist, was born in Germany
in 1938 and moved to Norway, where his images evoke a
positive response. They suggest that the evil in the world
originates from two sources, the United States and Israel.
Several of his caricatures show the Jews controlling the
10. Jews Must Not Defend Themselves
Image 21: Olmert the Nazi (caricature by Finn
Graff, Dagbladet, 10 July 2006).
Image 22: "The Extremists' War" (caricature by
Inge Grødum, Aftenposten, 15 July 2006).
In July 2006, after Hamas and Hizballah attacks on
Israel including kidnappings, murders, and shelling, Israel's
government finally ordered the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)
to fight back. Some Norwegian politicians, and to a much
greater extent the journalists, reacted immediately with
criticism of Israel but not of the terrorists. The state of Israel,
its government, and especially Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
were condemned in every conceivable forum.
Some Arab journalists criticized Hizballah and its
Iranian patron. Yet most of the Norwegian journalists did
not even mention this Arab criticism.30
The severe Norwegian attacks on Israel cannot be
explained by concern for the Arabs. Norwegians and other
European concern for the Arabs only arises when Jews can be
blamed for their suffering. Criticism of Israel is never so rapid
and harsh as when Jews defend themselves. This occurred
when Israel decided to build a security barrier, engaged in
targeted assassinations of terrorist leaders, and when Olmert
ordered the recent campaign. In true European tradition,
Jews are expected to suffer but not to defend themselves.
The right to self-defense is far from consistently
accepted in modern Europe. Norwegian soldiers fight in
Afghanistan against terrorists who do not directly threaten
Norway, but Israel is vilified for retaliating against terrorists
actively engaged in murderous attacks on Israelis.
In Image 21, Israel's prime minister is the commandant
of a death camp.31 Olmert is dressed in a Nazi uniform within
the camp, which is connoted by a high wall, watchtowers,
and barbed wire. Above the gate can be read "Jedem
Das Seine[m]," which in poor German means "Each one
gets what he deserves." Outside the barracks in front of
Olmert lie many Arab corpses. Olmert stands in Nazi boots,
laughing and pleased, holding a sniper gun while an Arab
he deliberately shot in the head is bleeding. The title of the
article describing Olmert and Israel is "Successful," adding
further demonization. The newspaper refused to publish
a reaction by this author, stating that it "refuses to allow
reprimanding in the newspaper."
In Image 22, the mighty Olmert tramples tiny Lebanon
leaving bloody traces. In the background is Iran's President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran, presented as a dwarf compared
to Israel, can only watch helplessly from the sidelines while
Israel destroys peaceful Lebanon.
11. The Jew Likes to Kill
The centuries-old blood libel, which claims that Jews kill
Christian children as part of their religious rituals (particularly
at Passover), has now been turned into the myth of Jews killing
Palestinian children. In both caricatures the Jew is bloodthirsty
and murderous. Jewishness is represented by the kippa in the
first caricature and by the Star of David in the second.
Image 23: Russia, 1907 - "The Radical" ( Pluvium,
Image 24: Norway, 2003 - "Dance Macabre"
(caricature by Inge Grødum, Aftenposten, 13
April 2003; Sharon says: "Who dares to throw
the last stone?").
One eye of the Jew is closed or covered, the other eye
aiming to kill. The subliminal message is: the Jew turns a blind
eye to moral feelings; the Jew is callous and inhuman. He
displays no feelings before he shoots, and he shoots children.
The Jewish arrogance is evident even in the weaponry: the
old "rascal" is armed with a pistol and a dagger; the modern
Jew uses a machinegun against children.
The Jew's face is long-nosed and ugly; such images
were seen by children in Nazi Germany, and they influence
Norwegian children today. According to the many articles
and caricatures published in Aftenposten, the Jews
continue to behave in a brutal, primitive manner that
arouses indignation in civilized people. Unlike Der Stürmer,
Aftenposten is a mainstream newspaper, Norway's most
influential as noted, and is considered moderate.
That caricature illustrated an anti-Semitic article by the
journalist Cordelia Edvardson, whom Aftenposten makes full
use of in conveying crude anti-Israeli allegations. Edvardson
is herself a Jew who was rescued from Auschwitz and now
lives in Israel. In several of her articles in Aftenposten and
other newspapers, she has compared Israelis to Nazis. In an
article illustrated by a drawing of an old train car, Edvardson
claimed that Israel forcibly transferred hundreds of thousands
of Arabs. She did not, however, protest against the forced
deportation of Jews from Gaza and northern Samaria some
There are striking similarities between Nazi-era
and contemporary anti-Jewish caricatures, as seen in
many Norwegian examples. Then as now, the artists use
sophisticated methods to incite emotions. Common motifs
• Jews rule and exploit the world.
• Jews are evil and inhuman.
• Jews hate peace and propagate wars.
• Jews are unlike other people.
• Judaism is against other religions.
Recent caricatures convey that Jews are fighting
Christians, who must therefore ally with the Muslim
There is no doubt that Jew-hatred is alive in today's
Norway. The situation is deteriorating with Jews under
increasing attacks. This hatred is spread by the leaders
of the society - journalists, intellectuals, church and state
leaders, including bishops and prime ministers. They belittle
the Holocaust while providing political and economic support
to elements striving to exterminate world Jewry, first and
foremost the Jews of Israel.
The situation, however, is not hopeless. Despite
Norway's history of anti-Semitism, several factors suggest
that it is possible to counter the current trend and foster a
better attitude toward Jews and Israel. To begin with, the
most virulent and effective anti-Semitism originates in a very
small, albeit active, elite part of the population.
Second, the Jew-hatred spread by these circles can
be confronted because these people are generally sensitive
about their image. To be effective, such confrontation must
be massive and should come from well-known bodies such
as the Israeli government and organizations that fight
anti-Semitism. Examples of such efforts are the complaints
sent last August by the Simon Wiesenthal Center against
the Norwegian caricatures and against the proposal for an
amendment to eliminate tax deductions for donations to
Israel.32 The few cases in which the Israeli Foreign Ministry
did protest against anti-Semitism, and the even fewer cases
where the Norwegian Jewish community did so, often
achieved good results.
Indeed, Norwegians in general are concerned about their
reputation. The Norwegian media often cites how Norway is
described abroad. Criticism of Norway and possible damage
to its reputation are taken seriously. Leaders often respond
the next day to complaints that appear in the media.
A decisive Jewish and Israeli policy against Norwegian
anti-Semitism could also improve relations between Norway
and Jews and Israel. Fifty years ago Norwegian schools
used maps of "Jødeland" (The Jews' Land), portraying Israel
positively as the Jewish state; thirty years ago Norwegian
schoolchildren learned to sing the Israeli song "Hava
Nagila" and were taught to relate positively to Jews. Today,
schoolchildren learn about Israeli soldiers who kill innocent
Arab youngsters and aggressive Zionists who forcibly
occupy other people's land. Instead of letting the situation
deteriorate even further, it must be improved. It is impossible
to eradicate anti-Semitism in Norway and Europe generally,
but Jews must work to reduce it to tolerable levels.
Appendix: Who Is behind the Caricatures?
1. The Caricaturists and Journalists
• Ulf Aas has been a caricaturist for Aftenposten since
1948. His caricatures were purchased by the Norwegian
National Gallery and other important galleries. He has
received many prizes, and in 1999 was awarded Norway's
most prestigious Knight First Class of St. Olav's Order for
his contribution to Norwegian art and culture.
• Dave Coverly is a freelance caricaturist. He sells his work
through Creators Syndicate, Los Angeles.33
• Siri Dokken has worked since 1995 for Dagsavisen where
her caricatures appear almost daily. She previously worked
for the newspaper Dag ogTid.
• Finn Graff was born in Germany in 1938 and immigrated to
Norway in 1946. He previously worked for Morgenposten
and Arbeiderbladet and has worked for Dagbladet since
1988. The well-known Graff caricatures have been
exhibited in Norway, including the National Gallery, and
abroad, and have received prizes in Norway and elsewhere.
In 2000 and 2005, the Norwegian Media Businesses'
Association awarded him the Newspaper Caricaturist of the
Year award. Graff's caricatures are extremely violent and
grotesque by Norwegian standards, commonly attacking
the United States, Israel, and the Norwegian Right. No
other caricaturist so extensively compares Jews to Nazis
as Graff has done.
• Inge Grødum is one of the most renowned caricaturists in Norway, his works appearing almost daily in Aftenposten.
He earlier worked for the newspaper Nationen and his
works have been exhibited in Norway and abroad.
• Roar Hagen has worked for Verdens Gang since 1986,
previously working for Sunnmørsposten and Stavanger
Aftenblad. His caricatures have also been published in
Die Zeit, the International Herald Tribune, Der Spiegel,
Time, Newsweek, and elsewhere.34
• Morten M. Kristiansen works for Verdens Gang but
has also published caricatures in Dagbladet. He is also a
political commentator, furniture designer, and inventor.
• Oddmund Mikkelsen has worked for Hamar Arbeiderblad
• Magne Skjæraasen is a journalist whose article was
apparently the inspiration for Image 8 above. He became
best known as a columnist for Aftenposten's culture
section. The Jews of Oslo consider him Jew-friendly;
many of them, like him, reject Jew-hatred outside Israel
but criticize Israel for its self-defense against terrorism
and support external pressure against it. Skjæraasen's
attitude toward the Jews is an interesting example of the
new anti-Semitism: he has been positive toward the small
Jewish minority of Norway but negative toward the large
number of Jews in Israel.
• Herbjørn Skogstad currently works for the local newspaper
Oppland Arbeiderblad, and earlier for the newspaper
2. The Newspapers
Many local newspapers are published in Norway
because of the great distances as well as the social structure,
which is characterized by numerous small communities. In
2004, 166 newspapers had a total daily circulation of
2,855,071.35 Many of the local newspapers depend on
generous government subsidies.
The newspapers mentioned in the text include:
• Aftenposten: The Oslo region, where power is concentrated,
is the country's most important one, and Oslo's newspaper
Aftenposten is the most influential. It is conservative and
the second largest paper in Norway with a circulation
of 250,000 in 2004. Aftenposten is owned by Schibsted,
a leading media group in Scandinavia. Schibsted is
apparently a purely economic interest group and not a
• Dagbladet: With a circulation of 183,000 in 2004,
Dagbladet is Norway's third largest newspaper. Published
in tabloid format, it is not sold to subscribers but can
be bought in gas stations, shops, and kiosks. Dagbladet's
shares are owned by different companies and concerns. It
seems the owners' interest in the newspaper is economic
and not political.36
• Dagsavisen's circulation is 33,000. It has always been
associated with the Labor movement, and in 1894 became
the main organ of the Norwegian Labor Party. In 1996
and 1999, it changed owners and is now owned by the
Dagsavisen Foundation.37 Its political affiliation, however,
has not changed.
• Hamar Arbeiderblad was established by local branches
of the Labor Party in 1925. Its circulation is 28,500.
Today, it is the largest newspaper of the Hedmark region
(approximately the size of Israel). Formally, it is now a nonpartisan
• Oppland Arbeiderblad, a local newspaper with a circulation
of 28,500, was established in 1924 as a Labor Party local
newspaper. Today it is owned by the A-pressen, a left-wing
concern (see below).39
• Verdens Gang (VG) is Norway's largest paper with
a circulation of 365,000. It is a tabloid available in gas
stations, shops and kiosks. It too is owned by Schibsted.
• The A-pressen concern was established in 1948 as Norsk
Arbeiderpresse (Norwegian Labor Press), but its history
began earlier with the founding of the first workers'
newspaper, Vort Arbeid (Our Work) in 1884. Vort Arbeid
had a crucial influence on the formation of the Labor
Party. In 1989, Norsk Arbeiderpresse merged with another
company to form A-pressen. Its board was headed in 2005
by Gerd-Liv Valla, a former Stalin supporter who is also
president of the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions
(LO). On 1 May 2002 (Labor Day), Valla's and the LO's main
agenda was a call to boycott Israel.
* * *
* The author thanks the many Christian Norwegians who are devoted
to supporting the Jews and Israel. Without their activities, funding,
and constant encouragement, NIS's work against anti-Semitism
in Norway would be impossible.
1. Malcolm Hay, The Foot of Pride: The Pressure of Christendom on
the People of Israel for 1900 Years (Boston: Beacon, 1950). (Also
published in 1975 as Thy Brother's Blood: The Roots of Christian
2. Diplomatarium Norvegicum, Vol. 5 (1436), 469-73. Cited in
Oskar Mendelsohn, Jødenes historie i Norge gjennom 300 år
(Three Hundred Years of Jewish History in Norway), Vol. 1 (Oslo:
Universitetsforlaget, 1969/1987), 10. [Norwegian]
3. Mendelsohn, Jødenes historie, 11.
4. Vebjørn Selbekk, Jødehat på norsk (Jew-Hatred in Norwegian)
(Skjetten: Hermon, 2001), 42. [Norwegian]
5. The figures are for 2003/04, www.ssb.no/english/subjects/10/04/
6. Selbekk, Jødehat, 49.
7. Ibid., 50.
8. Forskning, No. 5 (1998); Forskning, 1 August 2000: Kirurgi
på rasemessig grunnlag, http://tinylink.com/?64E9g57cpg.
9. Aftenposten, 7 October 2003, www.aftenposten.no/nyheter/iriks/
10. Monitor, 3 December 2003, www.oslodomkirke.no.
11. Efraim Zuroff, "Worldwide Investigation and Prosecution of
Nazi War Criminals: An Annual Status Report," Simon Wiesenthal
Center, 2002, http://tinylink.com/?4ZzezOpXvK.
12. Defense Minister Dag Jostein Fjærvoll confirmed the details.
Defense Ministry press release No. 054/98, 7 September 1998.
13. Manfred Gerstenfeld, "Anti-Semitic Motifs in Anti-Israelism,"
Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, 1 November 2002,
14. See the excellent analysis of Arieh Stav, Peace: The Arabian
Caricature - A Study of Anti-Semitic Imagery (Jerusalem: Gefen, 1999).
The book contains an important overview and reference list.
15. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Joel Kotek, "Major Anti-
Semitic Motifs in Arab Cartoons," Post-Holocaust and Anti-
Semitism, 21, 1 June 2004, www.jcpa.org/phas/phas-21.htm.
16. Stav, Peace.
17. The term Christian is used here to include believers as well as
secular persons in countries that for generations have been under
the influence of the Christian churches.
18. Prime Minister's Office, press release 99/2006. [Norwegian]
20. It is also possible that the crosses were used because they are
the common symbol for a grave in Christian Europe. But since
journalists and Norwegian leaders have often accused Israeli Jews
of fighting against Christians (as in Bethlehem or Beit Jalla), the
first explanation is highly probable.
21. Arieh Stav, personal conversation, 23 August 2006.
22. Siri Dokken, interview in Dagsavisen, 29 December 2004,
23. Matthew 2:1-12, and Christian tradition.
24. Several journalists confirmed this in private conversations.
25. Yoram Ettinger, "The Islamization of Bethlehem by Arafat," 25
December 2001, www.acpr.org.il/cloakrm/clk117.html.
26. It was published by Al-Shuruq, based in Ramallah. The book
became a bestseller in the Palestinian Authority in 1999. See:
27. Norwegian Foreign Ministry's press release from 08 December
2003, Nr.: 207/03.
28. "Support to the Palestinians," Norwegian Foreign Ministry, press
release, 10 April 2006. [Norwegian]
29. Haakon Lie, Slik jeg ser det (As I See It), Part 2 (Oslo: Tiden Norsk
forlag, 1983), 132. [Norwegian]
30. Ahmed al-Jarallah, "No to Syrian, Iran Agents, editorial in
Arab Times (Kuwait), 15 July 2006, www.arabtimesonline.com/
31. Note the copying of a scene from Steven Spielberg's film
34. Verdens Gang's annual report for 2004, www.vg.no/vginfo/
35. Norwegian Media Businesses' Association, www.mediebedriftene.
36. Dagbladet's annual report for 2003, www.dagbladet.no/avishuset/
39. Arne Næss, news editor of Oppland Arbeiderblad, telephone
conversation, 9 September 2005.
* * *
Erez Uriely is founder and director of the Norwegian Centre
against anti-Semitism, a nongovernmental organization focusing on
hostile expressions against Jews and Israel in the Norwegian media
and public institutions. He holds an MS degree and has published
many articles in Norwegian newspapers.
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