The carnage in Norway rightly dominated the week’s news, with Anders Behring Breivik accused of a monstrous murder spree that defies comprehension.
We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and to all the Norwegian people.
With the Oslo bombing and shootings on Utoya Island, Breivik is suspected of slaughtering 68 innocent people, most of them teenagers attending a retreat run by the ruling Labor Party. This would appear to be the handiwork of a meticulous madman.
Unfortunately, the bloody crime has taken on disturbing dimensions beyond the body count.
Breivik’s extreme nationalistic beliefs are documented in a 1,500-page manifesto. Among other things, those beliefs seem to incorporate a loathing of Islam and admiration for Israel.
In light of this, Jewish communities in Norway and around the world may need to prepare for potential blowback.
It is unfortunate that this alleged killer linked Islamophobia with Israel. Anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment has long run strong in Norway, somewhat mirroring the consistent and growing right-wing extremism seen in many European nations.
Moreover, the day before the killings, the teens on Utoya Island had gathered for a workshop on promoting BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel).
Add it all up and it is possible that some people will blur the lines between Breivik’s ravings and a principled pro-Israel stand.
It should be crystal clear that the Israel in Breivik’s diseased mind, which he sees as some sort of bulwark against multiculturalism, is not the real Israel. Multicultural Israel boasts a sizeable Muslim population, which enjoys equal rights of citizenship alongside Jews.
That’s not to suggest Israel faces no internal problems. Obviously, in as diverse a society as Israel, tensions do exist, especially when factoring in the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians and neighboring Arab countries.
Yet within Israel, there is no epic clash of civilizations — and certainly not the kind of anti-Arab uprising Breivik hoped to start. We are confident most Israelis would strongly reject Breivik’s twisted views and his avowed reverence for Israel.
This truth won’t stop the demonizers. Throughout Norwegian society, anti-Israel views have long held sway. With anti-Semitic acts and statements commonplace in that country, some Norwegian Jews have expressed fears of a backlash.
We hope that won’t happen, but no matter what, we can say categorically that despite his repugnant claims, Breivik and his ilk are no friends of Israel or the Jewish people.