Some 1,500 Jews live in Norway out of a population of
4.8 million. There are two Jewish communities in the country, located in Oslo and Trondheim.
Anti-Israel sentiments ran high in Norway during Operation Cast Lead in late 2008/January 2009, and were accompanied by an
increase in the level of antisemitic incidents reported. There were several
instances of verbal attacks and hostility toward Jews in the media, in the
streets, and against Jewish schoolchildren. During this period, the Jewish kindergarten
in Oslo, located in the same building as the synagogue, kept the children
indoors for fear of attacks if they played outside.
Pro-Palestinian participants in
demonstrations in Oslo on December 28, 2008, January 4 and January 8 physically
attacked individuals assumed to be Jewish or sympathetic to Israel. They also shouted "Death to the Jews,” firebombed a children's party at the Oslo Free
Masonry headquarters, and trashed several shops and restaurants. On January 5, a person of Middle Eastern extraction handed out antisemitic fliers on a busy street in central Oslo. Referring to Operation Cast Lead, the flier instructed the public on how to harass
Jews, by dumping garbage by the synagogue, desecrating the Jewish cemetery, and
drawing antisemitic cartoons.
In Trondheim, a class of 6th grade students and their
teachers from Åsveien elementary school refused to visit the Trondheim
Jewish Museum because of “angry feelings toward Israel.”
Serious antisemitic incidents were also
reported during the year. The Jewish section of the Sofienberg cemetery in Oslo was desecrated on the anniversary of the declaration of Israeli independence on May
14, 2009. On November 9, the anniversary of Kristallnacht, rocks were aimed at
a window etched with a Star of David in the Oslo synagogue.
Holocaust inversion by a Norwegian
foreign office official provoked anger in Norway and abroad. In January, Trine Lilleng, first secretary at
the Norwegian embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, circulated an email from her
official foreign ministry account, equating Operation Cast Lead with the
Holocaust, and stating that the grandchildren of the survivors of the Holocaust
were doing to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to the Jews. Lilleng urged
recipients to spread the message further. In response to public protests and
official complaints, the Norwegian foreign ministry noted that Lilleng had
violated ministry policy. She now works
as a civil servant in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Oslo.
At the beginning of November
another extreme anti-Israel manifestation was initiated by 34 lecturers from the
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and the University
College of Sor-Trondelag, in Trondheim, who called for a boycott of Israeli academic
institutions. NTNU professor Bjorn Alsberg led the fight against them. Following a resolution presented by rector
Torbjorn Digernes, the board of NTNU, Norway's second-largest university, voted
unanimously not to support the boycott.
On May 25,
British Holocaust denier David Irving was invited to Norway and interviewed on