(Published Sept. 30th 2020)
The neo-Nazi group which call themselves the Nordic Resistance Movement has targeted Jews in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland with antisemitic campaigns throughout the week leading up to Yom Kippur – the holiest day in the Hebrew calendar, reports The Jerusalem Post.
The group has been confronting Jewish worshipers and standing in front of synagogues, distributed flyers and placed antisemitic posters in public areas. Posters displayed in multiple countries attacked kosher slaughter, circumcision and the custom of kaparot. The Nazi movement wrote that it had chosen Yom Kippur to “make the Nordic people aware of foreign customs and Zionist ruling plans throughout the Nordic region.”
In the street outside the small (and only) synagogue in Oslo, three Nazis put up a stand on Yom Kippur, and handed out flyers containing hate propaganda against circumcision and kosher slaughter. Jews are one of the smallest minorities in Norway. During the Second World War about 760 out of 2 100 Norwegian Jews were murdered after having been deported to Auschwitz. Today there is one synagogue in Oslo and another in the city of Trondheim. The Mosaic communities has 747 members in 2015, and the total number of Jews in Norway is estimated to be about 1500. If such incidents are met with indifference by a larger majority, this will feel like a repetition. To quote Elie Wiesel:
“Of course, indifference can be tempting – more than that, seductive. It is so much easier to look away from victims. It is so much easier to avoid such rude interruptions to our work, our dreams, our hopes. It is, after all, awkward, troublesome, to be involved in another person’s pain and despair. Yet, for the person who is indifferent, his or her neighbor are of no consequence. And, therefore, their lives are meaningless. Their hidden or even visible anguish is of no interest. Indifference reduces the Other to an abstraction. […]
In a way, to be indifferent to that suffering is what makes the human being inhuman. Indifference, after all, is more dangerous than anger and hatred. Anger can at times be creative. One writes a great poem, a great symphony. One does something special for the sake of humanity because one is angry at the injustice that one witnesses. But indifference is never creative. Even hatred at times may elicit a response. You fight it. You denounce it. You disarm it.
Indifference elicits no response. Indifference is not a response. Indifference is not a beginning; it is an end. And, therefore, indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor – never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten. The political prisoner in his cell, the hungry children, the homeless refugees – not to respond to their plight, not to relieve their solitude by offering them a spark of hope is to exile them from human memory. And in denying their humanity, we betray our own.”
The Nordic Resistance Movement has been banned in Finland, where the court determined that the objectives of the organization were in violation of the foundations of a democratic society. “Writings published on the organization’s webpage have targeted various population groups in a way that has to be considered ethnic agitation and therefore criminal. In addition, the use of violence linked to the organization’s activities has to be considered a part of the organization’s operations,” said the court.
We denounce, in the strongest possible terms, not only the actions and propaganda of this neo-Nazi organization, but also the fact that the authorities allow such demonstrations to take place. Governments and law enforcement have a responsibility to ensure that Jews and other religious and ethnic minority groups may practice their religion freely, without intimidation or fear. Article 7 of the Declaration of Human Rights states: “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.” National parliaments must ensure that there is a suitable legal framework to address such expressions of gross hate, intimidation and intolerance. We call upon you to take a clear stand against allowing for such public expressions of antisemitism and racism, and to incite leading politicians, lawyers, journalists and intellectuals to do the same.
Antirasistisk Senter (2020) DNM-aksjon utenfor synagogen i Oslo, Sept. 29th https://antirasistisk.no/rasistiske-hendelser-/dnm-aksjon-utenfor-synagogen-oslo/
Jerusalem (2020) Post Neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement targets Jews on Yom Kippur, Sept. 29th https://www.jpost.com/diaspora/neo-nazi-nordic-resistance-movement-targets-jews-on-yom-kippur-643809
UN (1948) Universal Declaration of Human Rights https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html
Wiesel, E. (1999) The Perils of Indifference https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/ewieselperilsofindifference.html
Image: The Synagogue in Oslo, Norway, Wikimedia Commons.