Wiesenthal fails to withdraw lies and tall tales about Norway
AS if home-grown nutters with guns killing the kids was not enough, Norwegians have had to contend with another kind of hate-stirring. coming from abroad, and it is not just the weekend thugs of the EDL and Walter Mitty knight crusaders with whom Breivik chatted on the internet, who are responsible.
In November 2004, a bunch of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant campaigners linked with Norway's Forum Against Islamisation and the Democrats' Party - a break away from the right-wing Progress Party - had what they thought was a smart idea for a stunt.
On the morning of November 9, the anniversary of Hitler's 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom against the Jews, a message posted on the Democrats' website claimed that Norway's Kristallnacht commemoration had been taken over by Jew-haters and left-wing "extremists". The Democrats therefore called on people to turn up that night with Israeli flags.
So you see, the gimmick we have seen adopted by EDL and Stop the Islamification of Europe in Britain is nothing new, even if some of the new friends of Zion here have had to roll down their sleeves to hide those embarrassing Nazi tattoos.
What made the Norwegian gesture more significant is that the organisers of the Oslo march had publicly stated they did not want any national flags carried, so as to avoid their event being marred by any clashes over the Middle East. The police were notified of this specification.
When the racists and Islaphobes turned up, they were accompanied by a couple called Erez Uriely and Rachel Suissa, from the Norwegian Israel Centre. Uriely wore a talit, a Jewish prayer shawl. Several Jewish people objected that he was both making a mockery of the religion and abusing the occasion of a Holocaust commemoration.
Prevented from joining the Kristallnacht march, and told by the police to go home, the right-wingers started screaming before they left, that the police were refusing to allow Jews to commemorate Kristallnacht.
That might have been the end of it. But Uriely and the Norwegian Israel Centre contacted the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Los Angeles, with the story that Jews who had come with "some Norwegian friends" to take part in the commemoration had been kept away. The Wiesenthal Centre did not bother to check this for itself, but protested to the Norwegian ambassador in Washington. It put out a press statement claiming that the Kristallnacht commemoration in Norway had been made "judenrein" - a Nazi expression meaning rid of Jews.
The hue and cry about Norway was taken up and spread on the internet by various websites and bloggers, both anti-Islamic and pro-Zionist, AND THEIR VERSION REMAINS UP ON THE NET.
This is not the only time that the US-based outfit had taken it upon itself to interfere in the affairs of European countries and their Jewish communities. We have commented before on its international campaign against Ken Livingstone when he was mayor of London, attempting to turn his intemperate exchange with an Evening Standard reporter late one night into a major issue of antisemitism. Those who saw it differently, and Livingstone's apology to the reporter, were ignored.
In the Norwegian case, the Wiesenthal Centre made no effort to ascertain the views of the Norwegian Jewish community. Had it done so it would have learned that far from having any sympathy with Erez Uriely and his partner, Der Mosaiske Trossamfund (DMT), the official Jewish community in Oslo, had decided to exclude them because of their links and behaviour. The board of DMT said in a statement that the Forum Against Islamisation represented an ideology which the Jewish community, as a cultural and religious minority in Norwegian society could not accept.
Both the DMT and the Norwegian Association Against Antisemitism sent letters to the Simon Wiesenthal Centre trying to clear up what had actually happened in Oslo on Kristallnacht and correct its wrong impression. Apparently the American-based centre did not even bother to reply.
(Norway: Jewish community expels couple who marched with racists, report by Tor Bach, Searchlight magazine, January 2005).
Maybe the attitude of some big well-funded American organisations towards Jewish communities in other countries reproduces the arrogance of US imperialism towards these little countries. Norway is a NATO member, and has been part of the Western intervention in Afghanistan. But its Labour government is not right-wing enough for the American Right, either on social policies or treatment of minorities and immigrants.
To make matters worse, it has earned the enmity of the Israeli Right. Even the Oslo peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have come to be seen as a criminal affair by some of those now running Israel. Wasn't former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin murdered for his part in them? More recently the Norwegian government has come in for stick for showing sympathy for the Palestinians' rights, as when the state pension fund decided to withdraw investment from companies engaged in the Israeli military industries or profiting from the occupation.
Even allowing for the reactionary and lumpen attitudes that find widespread expression in internet discussions, it is not pleasant to read some Israelis' comments gloating on the Norwegian slaughter, alongside the more human expressions of sympathy.
That has been commented upon by J.J. Goldberg in the New York Jewish daily Forward:
"The Norway massacre has touched off a nasty war of words on the Israeli Internet over the meaning of the event and its implications for Israel. And I do mean nasty: Judging by the comments sections on the main Hebrew websites, the main questions under debate seem to be whether Norwegians deserve any sympathy from Israelis given the country’s pro-Palestinian policies, whether the killer deserves any sympathy given his self-declared intention of fighting Islamic extremism and, perhaps ironically, whether calling attention to this debate is in itself an anti-Israel or anti-Semitic act."
Read more: http://blogs.forward.com/forward-thinking/140297/#ixzz1TdI5hrVc
The idea of an alliance or Israeli backing for Europe's Islamophobes may be more a matter of wishful thinking by this section of the Far Right seeking sponsors, than reality. Even the EDL and its bonkers so-called "Jewish Division" have fallen apart, with tattooed Brazilian Roberta Moore announcing she must go elsewhere.
But there are connections at some levels, which cannot be ignored.
On the other hand the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which ignores what Jewish people and anti-racists tell it (just as it ignores Israelis advising against building its "Museum of Tolerance" over a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem) is in no way fitted to lead a struggle against antisemitism or any other form of prejudice.
A new book by Tom Segev reveals that Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal was for years financed in his activities by Mossad. One can't help suspecting that whatever money was paid him is nothing compared to the sums paid into the Centre that bears his name. (Director Rabbi Marvin Hier became one of the best-paid CEOs of a 'non-profit' institution in the United States).
Is it worth it? The politicians and governments with whom it takes issue tend to be exclusively those that the Israeli government does not like. If it were concerned today with hunting down Nazi attitudes rather than witch-hunts then it would have to turn some attention to the Right in Israel, not to mention the United States.