Monday 2 February 2009

Anti-Semitism rears head in Iceland, too, by Max Socol

"... a Gallup poll released Sunday in which, of 2,000 Icelanders surveyed, only 3 percent had a positive attitude toward Israel, compared to 70% with positive feeling toward the Palestinians."

"One of the populations most severely hit by the worldwide rise in anti-Semitism that's followed Operation Cast Lead has been one of the easiest to overlook: the minuscule Jewish community of Iceland.

"In Icelandic, 'Zionist' is a derogatory term," said Dr. Vilhjálmur Örn Vilhjálmsson (see below), a Danish professor who has studied the history of Iceland's Jews. "It's a criminal emblem."

Now, a bicycle repair shop owner in Reykjavik has refused to serve Jews, despite condemnation from the Icelandic government [Icelandic protest: bicycle shop "Jews are not welcome"] .

The shop owner's stance may reflect a coming shift in the public face of anti-Israel feeling in the country. In the midst of a recession that has all but destroyed the Icelandic economy, a new far-left government has been carried to power.

"I am afraid because the members of the cabinet we're going to see created today have expressed in recent weeks and in the past that they want to cut ties with Israel," said Vilhjálmsson.

A local Jewish resident, who was reluctant to give his name due to safety concerns, agreed. "I'm trying to see if there will be any consequences for Jews [because of the new government]," he said. "I imagine they might cut diplomatic ties with Israel."

Originally from the United States, the Iceland resident has made his home and raised his family in Iceland, and he is candid about the challenge. "Being Jewish in Iceland is very difficult," he said. "Is it a contradiction for me to try to be religious and live here? Maybe." He cited the lack of a synagogue, rabbi, or any organized community.

Vilhjálmsson, who is also Jewish, has roots in Iceland and visits at least once or twice a year. He has been alarmed by a sudden rise in anti-Semitic activity in the past few years, especially in light of the Gaza war.

"Every time there's a conflict between Israel and Palestine, things get inflamed," said Vilhjálmsson. "But it's not only a matter of the conflict - we also have a society where anti-Semitism was not criticized after [World War II], in the same way it was in a place like Germany."

Anti-Semitism in Iceland in some ways resembles a time-capsule of the popular thought of the 1930s. Iceland never came under German occupation, and therefore did not have the same reckoning with the ugly fruits of bigotry as the Axis countries did after the war - a phenomenon that Vilhjálmsson has documented in his writing.

Now, anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment have blurred in a country that, according to Vilhjálmsson, rarely receives balanced coverage of the Middle East conflict. He pointed to a Gallup poll released Sunday in which, of 2,000 Icelanders surveyed, only 3 percent had a positive attitude toward Israel, compared to 70% with positive feeling toward the Palestinians.

The poll suggests that Jews and Israelis have not gained the public trust in Iceland, despite president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson's 2003 marriage to Dorrit Mussaieff, an Israeli citizen and at the time the only Jewish first lady outside of Israel.

"When the bankruptcy came, you could see people expressing a new view [about Mussaieff]," said Vilhjálmsson. "Even though she was very good for Iceland, people said that 'an Icelandic person should never have married a Jewish woman. She is part of a Jewish conspiracy.'"

However, despite the popular sentiment, the local source said he did not feel that Jews in Iceland were in any imminent danger. He also dismissed the headline-making bike shop owner.

"Of the few Jews that are here, how many have bikes? How many are visiting his shop?" he asked. "It's just a publicity stunt. And anyway, there's 10 inches of snow on the ground.""

Source: article in TJP
-----------------------------------------------------------Annals of Icelandic-Jewish relations 1625-2003, by Dr. Vilhjálmur Örn Vilhjálmsson [Iceland, the Jews, and Anti-Semitism, 1625-2004, JCPA]

"The article provides an outline of the history of the Jews in Iceland.

Jews were only occasional visitors in Iceland from the 17th century onwards. A permanent settlement in this outpost of the habitable world, where a stray homogeneous population of somewhat xenophobic descendants of saga heroes survived under extreme conditions, was never a feasible option for any foreign visitor in their right mind. Until the 1930s, the Holy Scripture as well as the most recent European trends in anti-Semitism were almost the only knowledge the Icelanders had about the Jews.

Jews were known to the Icelanders, in positive terms as gyðingar, or júðar if the discussion was hateful. Jews in the flesh materialised as the occasional visitor or merchant and as Jewish refugees from Nazi-Germany in the 1930s. Most of the Jewish refugees moved on to other countries and a few of them were even expelled or deported back to the countries they came from. The article provides a few examples of the very negative treatment of Jewish refugees and the strict immigration policy towards Jews in particular. A young Jew, Alfred Kempner, was expelled to Copenhagen in 1938. The Icelandic authorities notified their Danish colleagues that the Icelandic authorities were willing to carry all costs for his further deportation to Germany if Denmark was not interested in keeping him.

The very few Jews who stayed on in Iceland, were an extremely heterogeneous group. Only a few of the families that were allowed to stay practised their religion. They did so together with Jewish servicemen in the British and American forces, who protected Iceland during WWII. In the post-war period Jews living in Iceland remained an isolated group. Jewish services only took place at the US Nato base in Keflavík.

Most of the Jews who immigrated to Iceland after the war, realised that most Icelanders in their attitude towards Jews did not show any consideration for, nor interest in, the sufferings some of them had gone through during WWII. Members of the pre-war Icelandic Nazi party had become high ranking officials, war criminals found safe haven in Iceland and an eccentric, social democratic politician even engaged in the publication of an extreme anti-Semitic journal and in the publishing of the anti-Semitic hoax "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" in Icelandic.

Possibly due to anti-Jewish sentiments, some Jews in Iceland tried to hide their Jewish background from their children altogether. Today there is a small, but proud group of Jews in Iceland, mostly immigrants married to Icelanders, who gather regularly in Reykjavík on Jewish holidays."

Source:, Society for Danish Jewish History


Anonymous said...

God! What a sick society! And no doubt they consider themselves to be among the most progressive peoples on Earth.

This comment I found especially feeble:

"Of the few Jews that are here, how many have bikes? How many are visiting his shop?" he asked. "It's just a publicity stunt. And anyway, there's 10 inches of snow on the ground.""

How can anyone be so stupid? The point isn't bicycles, or that there's snow on the ground. The point is that this is a sympton of a dangerous shift in Icelandic society.

This reminds me of a Frenchwoman (a leftwinger!) who once told me that Clinton should never have gotten involved with the issue of gays in the military. Who cares? she said. Gays should just avoid the military and find jobs somewhere else.

Well, here's the classic saying about the fool: You point out the moon to him, and he looks at your finger.

Anonymous said...

Iceland is a very small society wich is going through an extremely difficult time right now. They are far out in the middle of nowhere, even more so than Norway, and when they found themselves bankrupt due to the financial crisis there wasn't a lot of Nordic solidarity forthcoming. So they're bitter and angry and now they identify with the Palestinians. I'm worried over this shop-owner and this antisemitic notice.

Anonymous said...

bagholding goldman sachs cdo's into bankruptcy , can bring out the anti semite in any rational progressive" ..zionist appartheid isn't helping their image either.. easpecially when not reported by the rothschild owned media .. sometimes you just have to call a spade .. a spade..

Anonymous said...

the bicycle shop owner has the right idea. hopefully its the begining of a trend.

Anonymous said...

a fine example of how people will do the right thing and reject jew subversion when not brainwashed by jewish mainstream media. too bad it takes bankruptcy to finally provoke a reaction. the "jew should be forced to return evrything its obtained thru theft and usary" then isloated where it can cause the least amount of harm".