Source: Norway, Israel and the Jews blog
"Jews in Norway are few. All in all they number around one and a half thousand. In a population of 4.5 million, that’s minuscule. I’m 37 years old and have lived most of my life here in Oslo, and to the best of my knowledge I have never met a Jew. There are a couple of people I know who have slightly Jewish-sounding names, but there’s no way to find out and unfortunately this may be a good thing. So Norwegian Jews are few and far between and completely integrated. Norwegian Jews don’t stick out enough to be recognized. When you think about it, neither do Norwegian non-Jews.
When I was a teenager my family lived in Finland. To our amusement, we discovered that our neighbors were unable to recognize each other on the street. The policy was to just assume that if you saw someone in your street, then that person probably lived there and you would grunt a discreet greeting if you passed by close enough. Even by Nordic standards this is a bit much. I do, however, live by this policy myself now, and am happily unable to describe the personal characteristics of a single one of my neighbors. It is the Nordic way, but we’re good people.
No Jews or Jesuits, please
With so few Jews then, how has Norway managed to develop this obsessive - compulsive disorder about Jews and Israel ? I will tell you. I don’t know. In part, it’s historical legacy. Norway was declared a Christian country around 1000 AD, and everyone who desired to worship the old gods had to go to Iceland. By 1641 things had relaxed sufficiently for both Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews to live here a little bit, but when we formulated our first constitution in 1814 it was back to square one: no Jews or Jesuits to be allowed access to the realm. This sordid state of affairs existed until 1844, when the ban against Jews was lifted in part due to the tireless campaigning of our poet Henrik Wergland.
Henrik Wergland (1808-1845)
Anyway Norway was occupied and the war was over and my grandfather and everybody else could go back to keeping their heads down at work. Our occupiers requested that we give them our Jews, and curiously enough we were instantly able to provide them with the exact details on every single Jew in the country. The Norwegian police helped round them up. Some Jews managed to escape to Sweden. 758 Norwegian Jews were killed in Auschwitz. Out of the survivors, many didn’t return. Those who did return found that their assets had been stolen. They had to go to court to get their things back and even if they did they had to pay an administration fee for doing so. By 1946, Norway had only 559 Jews left.
The Jews had ample warning …
It is a very peculiar thing, but I was at a family gathering a while back and there was some talk of the war and the issue of the Norwegian Jews came up. One man took me by the arm and gently said: "You know, the Jews had ample warning about what was going to happen, they could have fled. And the ones who listened did." Now isn’t this a very interesting thing to say? The message seems to be that somehow the Norwegian Jews were a bit slow in the head, and that if they had only had their wits about them they could have survived. A sentence like this one shifts the responsiblity for the murder onto the murdered, it’s eerie. Why would you want to go and say a thing like that ?"
- Anti-Semitic cartoons in the mainstream media
- Bias in the Norwegian media