by Bruce Bawer
UPDATE: In an article posted at 6:40 AM CET on Friday, the Hamar Arbeiderblad reports that the Hamar Labor Party has decided not to expel Khalid Haji Ahmed after all. Ahmed, who earlier flatly refused to apologize to Norwegian Jews, has now agreed to do so, and the Party pronounces itself “satisfied.”
If you haven’t noticed, Norway has been undergoing a bit of bad publicity of late apropos of what has been described as its unparalleled levels of anti-Semitism. One of the country’s few highly placed truth-tellers, Hanne Nabintu Herland, a religious scholar at the University of Oslo, recently put it this way: “How could a country that was once a loyal friend of Israel be transformed into a nation with a government that refuses to distance itself from Hamas as a terrorist organization? Norway is the most anti-Semitic country in the West, because of the left-wing elite.” Alan Dershowitz said the same thing here at Front Page last year after a series of unpleasant personal experiences in the land of the fjords: “Norway is the most anti-Semitic and anti-Israel country in Europe today.”
Nor did it do much to rehabilitate Norway’s image when the Royal Palace announced a couple of weeks ago the awarding of a medal to Trond Ali Linstad, a Muslim convert who is also an outspoken anti-Semite. (Fortunately, the public furor over this decision caused the king to change his mind.)
The other day, when I noticed a headline indicating that the Norwegian police were apologizing to the country’s Jewish population, I experienced a fleeting sense of hope. Had at least one important national institution actually realized the error of its recent ways? Then it turned out – and, knowing the country as long as I have, I should have seen this coming – that the police were apologing for having helped the Nazis during the occupation with the job of rounding up Jews and shipping them off to be exterminated. A full news cycle was consumed with conspicuous self-flagellation about this horrible chapter of Norwegian history. The sole still-living Jew to have been handed over to the Germans was interviewed all over the place.
I watched several TV news and debate programs that solemnly addressed the police department’s apology. But on none of them was there so much as a hint that the in 2012, the Jews are still the chief victims of prejudice in Norway. No, the message sent out by all the commentators I heard was the usual one: that the enduring lesson of the anti-Semitic crimes of yesteryear is that we should be especially alert nowadays to similar offenses against “other groups.” Everybody knows, of course, which “other group” is meant by this. And nobody needed to spell out the now-familiar formula: that the Jews are today’s Nazis, and the Muslims today’s Jews.
This latest round of hand-wringing over the Holocaust was barely over when a new story made the headlines: the other day a young Yemeni-Norwegian named Khalid Haji Ahmed, who until recently was an official in the Workers’ Youth League (Arbeidernes Ungdomsfylking, or AUF), the junior division of Norway’s Labor Party, and who is currently a member of the city council in the town of Hamar (pop. 29,000), was discovered to have taken part in a Facebook discussion of a status update that read as follows: “Fucking Jew whores, wish Hitler could come back and shower you a little more.” Ahmed was apparently one of several AUF members who took part in the discussion and who seemed to take an affirmative position toward their friend’s pro-Holocaust sentiment. Among the comments Ahmed posted was this, in reference to the original status update: “Best of luck eight times over.” (Facebook later deleted the discussion, in response to which the person who had posted the original status update wrote: “It’s probably Jews who run that, too.”)
Jew-hatred, as it happens, is nothing new in the AUF, which, of course, is the group targeted last year by mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik on the island of Utøya, where the Labor Party used to hold an annual summer camp for budding Laborites. The Norwegian Labor Party is a pretty left-wing outfit, but the kids in AUF are notorious for being, if anything, even further to the left than their elders. In the summer of 2006, for example, in the wake of Israeli military actions in Gaza and Lebanon, the AUF-ers at Utøya called on Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg to take “a tougher line on Israel.” One AUF member, who felt the party was too soft on Israel, “gave Stoltenberg a Palestine scarf and a T-shirt reading ‘free Palestine,’ and encouraged Jens to become ‘Palestine Jens.’” That year, reported the newspaper Adresseavisen, Palestinian scarves and flags were “a conspicuous element of camp life,” and guests on the island included Hassan Faraj of Fatah Youth, who handed Stoltenberg a T-shirt reading “Tear down the wall.”
The next summer, Stoltenberg gave a speech at Utøya praising AUF for pressuring Israel to release Palestinian prisoners, notably Hussam Shaheen, a member of Fatah Youth, “who has been here at Utøya several times and who has many friends in AUF.” And the very day before Breivik started shooting up the camp last year, according to Alex Weisler of the Jewish Telegraph Agency, the Labor Party youth “had spent part of the day before discussing the organization of a boycott against Israel and pressing the country’s foreign minister, who was visiting the camp, to recognize a Palestinian state.”
And now we have Ahmed, whose brother Ismail Haji Ahmed was one of Breivik’s victims last year. Indeed, Ahmed has said that he joined AUF after his brother’s death because he was eager to “fight racism.” Among his recent “anti-racist” activity has been high-profile participation in an anti-Israeli demonstration organized by the Friends of Palestine.
When confronted with his Hitler-friendly Facebook comment, Ahmed at first claimed that he’d meant it ironically. His local Labor Party board, which at first supported him and didn’t plan to do anything about the matter, soon changed its mind, presumably when it became clear that some people out there were actually upset. Accordingly, the board called Ahmed in and asked him to issue a public apology. He refused. “The board claims I have expressed racism toward another people, that my comments have been offensive, and that I haven’t made any official apology,” he told Dagbladet. “I think this is totally wrong. I’m anti-racist, and I’m offended when someone calls me anti-Semitic. After all, I’m a Semite myself.” Ahmed insisted that while he is anti-Zionist, he’s not anti-Jewish. He also suggested that perhaps Jews were responsible for having leaked his Facebook comment to the media.
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