Thursday, November 27, 2014

Norway: Jews expected to publicly disassociate from Israel

When the tiny Jewish community in Trondheim, Norway, arranged a Jewish culture festival recently, they felt the need to emphasize that the festival had nothing to do with Israel.
For anyone with raised eyebrows, let me be clear: I may have made the same choice if I were in the program committee. Misperceptions of Jewish culture, religion, and history are widespread in Norway, and the Jewish community in Trondheim are housed in probably the most fortified building in the city. There is an urgent need to demystify Yiddishkeit, even if it means kowtowing to widespread BDS impulses in Norway and especially Trondheim. 
The separation between anti-Israeli and antisemitic tendencies in Norway is encapsulated in the often-repeated slogan that “Norwegian Jews should not be held accountable for Israel’s policies.” 
This slogan is rarely parsed for its true meaning: What would “accountable” mean in this case? Is there any case, ever, for collectively holding a minority group, in any way “accountable” for anything? Is the slogan supposed to suggest an act of tolerance, or charity, evidence of laudable but optional virtue? If someone decided to hold Norwegian Jews accountable for Israeli policies, what would that actually entail?

More: Times of Israel h/t Norway, Israel and the Jews

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