Sunday, June 14, 2009

Will the next Holocaust come from Norway?

You may never have heard of Manfred Gerstenfeld, but to the extent that he enjoys any name recognition, this stems from his continually crying antisemitic wolf. So what does he do if no antisemite shows up? He manufactures a countryful of them.

Gerstenfeld has been active in the demonization of Norway as a hotbed of antisemitism. In August 2008 he edited Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews, a book dedicated to scare the world about the wave of Judeophobia prevalent in Scandinavia. Last November he presided over a symposium, sort of, devoted to the same region-bashing. Now he has penned Another Year of Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in Norway, an article that summarizes the most recent events reflecting Oslo's genocidal designs.

Jewish paranoia, whether genuine or feigned to get funding for a think-tank, is always fun to debunk. Let's see some of Manfred's points, together with the refutations:

1) Gerstenfeld claims: "One cannot criticize Israel for things other countries also do while refraining from criticizing those countries."

One cannot? Why? Is there any law forbidding it? (Hush, hush; I may be giving some European government or Monitoring Commission an idea.) Oh, I see: what he means is that one cannot do it without exposing oneself as a Jew-hater. Because you know, single-issue human rights advocates are bigots, since all people have the duty to show a similar concern for all abuses in the world.

The only problem with this reasoning is that in 1996 the United States Congress passed a Cuban Democracy Act, which imposed harsh sanctions on the island. It didn't pass a Chinese Democracy Act, or a Saudi Democracy Act, or a Tadjik Democracy Act, or in fact any democracy act targetting any other dictatorship than Cuba. Therefore, Americans, as represented by their lawmakers, are anti-Cuban racists, since one cannot punish Cuba for things other countries also do while refraining from punishing those countries.

Therefore, by denouncing Norway's criticism of Israel and not of other countries, but not the US's punishment of Cuba and not of other countries, Gerstenfeld exposes himself as an anti-Norwegian bigot, because you can't denounce Norwegians for things other people also do without denouncing those other people.

2) States Gerstenfeld: "[T]he Finnish blog Tundra Tabloids published a picture of [Norwegian finance minister Kristin] Halvorsen at the 'manifestation for a ceasing of hostilities.' It showed that someone standing very close to her was holding a sign that said 'The greatest axis of evil-USA and Israel.' (...) By not leaving such a gathering, Halvorsen must be considered as identifying with it."

Again the US comes to our help. On January 11, 2009, a pro-Israel rally was held in New York City:

Be sure to notice how at 0:33 a banner that says ISLAM = CULT OF HATE is unfolded and waved. Then, at 0:43, we see NY Senator Charles Schumer and NY Governor David Peterson speaking at the rally. By not leaving the gathering, they subscribed to the Islamophobic sentiment of the crowd. Yet Gerstenfeld remains silent at this display of hate by two leading American politicians.

3) Gerstenfeld makes reference to Norway's commemoration of writer Knut Hamsun, who welcomed the brutal German occupation of Norway during World War II and gave his Nobel Prize in Literature as a gift to the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels. His comment:

In February 2009, Norway's Queen Sonja opened the "year-long, publicly financed commemoration of Hamsun's 150th birthday called Hamsun 2009...the queen spent a highly specific half-hour with Hamsun family members at the National Library. Together they viewed the author's handwritten manuscripts.


The festivities in honor of Hamsun are one more example of a dubious morality, abundantly present, in Norway's public discourse. For a few years there has been a Holocaust Center in Oslo (...) On the other hand, in 2009 a prominent Norwegian Nazi supporter is being lavishly honored and a museum is being established in his memory.

Once again an American counterexample comes in handy. Much, much more important than a Norwegian museum is the 50-dollar bill, which is well-known to the globe's 7 billion inhabitants. And guess whose face is on it? Ulysses S. Grant's. And guess what Grant did during the Civil war? The Jewish Virtual Library illuminates us:

In 1862, in the heat of the Civil War, General Ulysses S. Grant initiated one of the most blatant official episodes of anti-Semitism in 19th-century American history. In December of that year, Grant issued his infamous General Order No. 11, which expelled all Jews from Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi:

The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the department within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order.

Post commanders will see to it that all of this class of people be furnished passes and required to leave, and any one returning after such notification will be arrested and held in confinement until an opportunity occurs of sending them out as prisoners, unless furnished with permit from headquarters. No passes will be given these people to visit headquarters for the purpose of making personal application of trade permits.

In other words, the United States are celebrating every single second of every day of every year a brutal antisemite who ethnically cleansed Jews from a territory. Why doesn't Gerstenfeld publish article after article after article telling us how antisemitic Americans are until the 50-dollar bill is changed or withdrawn from circulation? Maybe because he understands that the world is not black and white, and that what is celebrated in those bills is Grant's contribution to winning the Civil War against the forces of slavery? If so, why doesn't he understand that the Norwegians celebrate Hamsun's literary work, not his inconsequential adherence to Nazism?

It's a shame that fabricators of antisemitism like Gerstenfeld are getting an increasing attention from otherwise intelligent people who become embarrassingly uncritical when the cheapest Hasbara points are made.


Conrad Barwa said...

In other words, the United States are celebrating every single second of every day of every year a brutal antisemite who ethnically cleansed Jews from a territory.

This order was something of an exception as nothing else like this was ever issued by Grant regarding Jews during the Civil war again or during his presidency. In anycase, it had little effect since Lincoln countermanded the order swiftly.

I don't know about the other Scandinavian countries but Finland had an outstanding record on the treatment its Jewish population during WWII, with the German Nazis being told to 'go to hell' it was I think one of the few times that Jews in the Finnish army fought alongside the Wehrmacht against a common enemy.

My Blog said...

In anycase, it had little effect since Lincoln countermanded the order swiftly.

scott davidson said...

What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,
The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.