The Anti-Jewish Riots in Oslo - book review by Ben Cohenon

| 2010-02-18 | la | english |

The Anti-Jewish Riots in Oslo

Published by Ben Cohenon February 16, 2010 in Norway, anti-Zionism and

This is a guest post by Christian Tau of NIJ.

Most Norwegian books are dearly priced and contribute to nothing
except the prestige of their authors, yet still manage to capture the
public eye. Meanwhile Eirik Eiglad’s recently published “The anti-
Jewish riots in Oslo” is receiving no publicity whatsoever. For the
sin of contrasting too sharply with Norway’s “goody two shoes” image
of being a humanitarian superpower, Eiglad’s book is being quietly
ignored to death.

In March 2009 the Jerusalem Post published an article on anti-Semitism
in Norway containing several erroneous pieces of information (it was
immediately withdrawn). At the time, the Norwegian expert on the
Middle East Hilde Henriksen Waage claimed that something “akin to a
smear campaign” was being conducted against Norway by the “Israeli
right-wing”. Even though Ms.Waage could provide no evidence of any
kind, her allegation found fertile soil. Only ten months later, the
allegation of the “Israeli conspiracy” had grown to the point where it
could be voiced by nobody less than Norway’s foreign minister Jonas
Gahr Støre who in January told Haaretz “There are references to anti-
Israel sentiments in the Israeli press, and I see part of that as a
campaign, which is being organized and orchestrated from circles who
point out enemies of Israel [in Norway].”

Norway it seemed, had no problems. Støre was in Israel to criticize
Israel, not to be criticized himself. And so the critical voices in
Haaretz and Jerusalem Post were shrugged of as yet another case of un-
named forces in Israel engaging in an anti-Norwegian smear-campaign.
Støre will find it harder to shrug of Eirik Eiglad’s book “The anti-
Jewish riots in Oslo.”

Eirik Eiglad is neither Israeli nor right-wing but a left-wing
Norwegian. His book “The anti-Jewish riots in Oslo” punches great,
gaping holes not only in the conspiracy theory Støre so eagerly
grasped after in January. Ms.Waage’s story of right-wing Israelis
conducting a smear campaign against Norway is simply blown out of the
water, quite simply because even if there was such a conspiracy it
could not possibly “orchestrate” a left-wing activist such as Eiglad,
who refuses to be orchestrated even by the movement to which he
himself belongs – the Norwegian left. Yet the value of Eiglad’s short
treatise goes beyond the dismantlement of a conspiracy theory. It
pierces to the very core of Norway’s perception of herself as a
righteous nation whose criticism of Israel is motivated entirely by
humanitarian concerns.

Anti-Jewish riots in Oslo

The 103 widely spaced pages of “The anti-Jewish riots in Oslo” is a
narration of the riots of January 2009 when rioters, under the pretext
of demonstrating against Israel’s war against Hamas, turned downtown
Oslo into a four-day war zone. Eiglad points to the calls of “kill the
jews”, to the placards commemorating Khaybar, to the attacks on the
institutions of what anti-Semites perceive to be Jewish power (The
Freemason’s Lodge, McDonald’s, etc), to the physical violence, and all
the time to the lacking ability of the Norwegian Left to discriminate
between legitimate and disproportionate criticism of Israel not to
speak of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

As the author was present at all the major events of the riots he can
draw on a wealth of first-hand experiences, and does so with a highly
satisfactory level of literary skill. The mass of detail he provides
goes beyond any previous narration, as does the level of analysis and
reflection. With regards to the chain of events as they unfolded
during the course of the four days examined, it will be difficult for
anybody to prove the author wrong.

A left-wing activist

Author Eirik Eiglad is the editor of Communalism, a journal which
reports as its purpose to “provide a forum for the exposition of
Communalism as a viable political alternative”, and his political
outlook on life is made glaringly obvious on almost every page of “The
anti-Jewish riots in Oslo”.

While watching a pro-Palestinian attack on a completely peaceful pro-
Israel peace rally, Eiglad finds himself caught between “hell and a
hot place, between Hamas supporters and the Christian Right“. Later in
the book, Eiglad and a friend reminisce over the good old days of the
pre-Hamas intifada, when the Palestinian struggle could still be
perceived as a noble cause. The political right-wing is consistently
portrayed as xenophobic rabble rousers, and when Behind the
Humanitarian Mask (Ed:Manfred Gerstenfeld, JCPA) makes the list of
recommended reading it is “despite the conservative focus of many of
its contributors”. For an appendix, this kind of warning is rare.

To really show his colours the author at one point even admits to
having participated in Blitz and AFA “mobilisations” against neo-
Nazis. This is less than savoury. For the first thing Blitz and AFA
indiscriminately apply the badge of neo-Nazi to anyone they take a
dislike to. For the second, during the riots in Malmö in 2009 AFA
fought shoulder to shoulder with the very neo-Nazis it proclaims to be
fighting against, merely in order to stop an Israeli citizen from
playing tennis. Rather than being anti-fascist, AFA is basically a
rivalling outfit. For Eiglad to unashamedly admit to contacts with
such a group is breathtakingly worrying and indicative of the dire
moral straits in which the Norwegian left finds itself.

An ominous silence

“The anti-Jewish riots in Oslo” is an important book for several
different reasons. Firstly, it is a convincing eyewitness testimony of
the worst riots Oslo has seen for decades, if ever. Secondly, it
provides accurate and reliable detail on the pattern of blatantly anti-
Semitic incidents which occurred during the riots. Thirdly, the book
examines the relationship between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, a
great taboo in contemporary Norway. Furthermore “The anti-Jewish riots
in Oslo” places responsibility for the riots with the Norwegian left – where it belongs – and encourages that movement to mobilize against
anti-Semitism and Islamisism in the same manner that it mobilizes
against other kinds of fascism. All in all, this ought to make for a
book of exactly the sort which a humanitarian superpower such as
Norway ought to embrace. This is not happening.

Instead of endorsing the book, the Norwegian left (which encompasses
the central part of the media) has received Eiglad’s book with an icy
silence. This is telling – “The anti-Jewish riots in Oslo” poses
poignant questions to which there the Norwegian left has no ready
answers, and they must find it extremely troubling. And this time, the
option of simply shrugging of the criticism as yet another machination
of the Israeli right-wing just won’t work, so the only technique left
in the tool box is to pretend the book isn’t there.

“The anti-Jewish riots in Oslo” is well written, provides valuable
insights, is a mere 103 pages long, in English and sells for $15.

Give Norway a helping hand and buy it.

Do it now.