"Brit-Am Now"-30

"Brit-Am Now"-30
1. Bennett M. Epstein: No More Norway

Fri Jun 7, 2002  1:08 am

                 Why I won't be seeing the fjords this summer By Bennett
                 M. Epstein May 20, 2002
                 On the heels of Mr. Roed-Larsen's now-infamous remark that Israel
                 "ceded all moral ground" in Jenin, comes word from his home country of
                 Norway that some supermarket chains have decided to place special
                 identification stickers on products from Israel. Other
                 Scandinavian countries may follow suit. The Norwegians say the stickers
                 do not constitute a "boycott" of Israel; they just want their customers,
                 who are overwhelmingly pro-Palestinian, to pay attention to where these
                 products are produced. Maybe the rest of us should run down to our
                 local supermarkets with a pad of yellow "post-it" notes so that
                 consumers of Norwegian salmon or Jarlsberg cheese can also pay
                 attention to where those are produced. Stick them on the packages with a
                 note: these products come from a place with a shameful past that continues
                 to operate as a European free zone for Neo-Nazis and other right wing
                 extremists. Those asking the question of whether Europeans are
                 anti-Israel because of Israel's actions in fighting terror, or because
                 of their own latent anti-Semitism, should study the example
                 of Norway. Behind the current disclaimer of a boycott you will find
                 that Norwegians are quite experienced at boycotting Israel. Norwegian
                 labor unions have recently refused to off-load Israeli farm
                 produce. Last year, a Norwegian "labor youth movement" organized a
                 campaign to ban Israeli singers from the Eurovision song contest. Another
                 Norwegian group has been boycotting Israeli oranges since the early 90s.
                 This group, "Boikott Israel," rejuvenated by the latest "Intifada" to
                 include a boycott of all Israeli commerce, denies on its website that it
                 is anti-Semitic but states that its goal is the end Israel's "50 year
                 occupation" of, and the return of all refugees to, a "free Palestine." Not
                 anti-Semitic? In 1941, the graffiti on Jewish businesses in Oslo read:
                 "Jews, go to Palestine." To campaign now in Norway to get the Jews out of
                 "Palestine" seems anti-Semitic to me, if only by process of elimination.
                 Indeed, the roots of Norwegian boycotts of Israel run deep.
                 Anti-Semitism has held a unique place in Norwegian politics since the
                 1930s when Vidkun Quisling, later the leader of a Nazi puppet government
                 in Norway, formed the National Union Party. While many Norwegians fought
                 with the Resistance, many became eager collaborators of the Nazis,
                 including some 60,000 members of the National Union. Under its auspices,
                 Norway formed its own branch of the SS and established academies sending
                 hundreds of officers each year to the German military. One very active
                 neo-Nazis group in Norway today is theInstitute for norsk
                 okkupasjonshistorie (Institute for the History of Occupied Norway),
                 composed of descendants of members of the Quisling party, the Waffen SS
                 and others dedicated to cleansing their wartime reputation.
                 The aspect of the holocaust in Norway that was particularly
                 Norwegian was the liquidation of Jewish property, much of which was
                 divided up by Quisling and his followers. When the war ended,
                 the Norwegian reparations commission shamelessly accepted doctored figures
                 kept by the Quisling government in order to reject most Jewish claims and
                 avoid paying others more than pennies on the dollar. Then in 1997 a
                 new commission, appointed after a journalistic expose of the injustice of
                 the first commission, issued a report, which actually recommended adherence
                 to the earlier decision. However, a scandal erupted when it was discovered
                 that an organization of former Nazis had provided a scholarship to a
                 researcher on the new commission. The Norwegian prime minister ultimately
                 intervened and compelled the government to accept a dissenting report.
                 Today, neo-Nazis propaganda, band concerts and other events are
                 commonplace in Norway. Norway's ultra right-wing groups play host to
                 gatherings of like-minded groups from Sweden and Denmark with little fear
                 of official interference. More significantly, according to a report
                 published by the Stephen Roth Institute of Tel Aviv University, the extreme
                 right wing Progress Party is the second largest party in Norway with 25 out
                 of 160 seats in the Parliament. Among other racist and anti-immigration
                 views, this party advocates banning male circumcision. Schechita (kosher
                 slaughter) is already forbidden by Norwegian law.
                 Given their past and present history, Norwegians are hardly
                 qualified to accuse any other country of having ceded "moral ground." Their
                 warning stickers on Israeli goods are the modern-day equivalent of painting
                 "Joden" on the Jewish-owned businesses of Oslo and Trondheim in 1941. We
                 needn't be reminded that after that, all of Norway's remaining Jews were
                 deported to Auschwitz. Fewer than 30 survived the Holocaust. I'm not
                 the sort that usually pays attention to boycotts and counter-boycotts,
                 because often you don't know who you are really hurting. But there is a
                 good reason why I won't be buying Norwegian products any time soon, or
                 cruising on the Norwegian Line. Their stickers have caught my


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