– We try to protect the children. “They, our children, are the ones we are most worried about,” Erwin Cohn tells Dagbladet.
The former head of the Mosaic religious community in Oslo meets with Dagbladet at the synagogue in St. Hanshaugen. On his head is Kepa with the Sogndal Football Club logo.
In Bergsten, there are two police cars blocking both ends of the street. A police officer with a gun in his hands stands guard.
Sound the alarm
Following the Hamas terrorist attack on southern Israel on October 7, and the subsequent war between Israel and Hamas, Jewish religious communities have sounded the alarm about the dramatic increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes.
The Mosaic religious community in Oslo sent a letter of concern on October 30. “Words become actions,” they write. Anti-Semitism is now felt more strongly in the body of Norwegian Jews than they remember in their generation.
“Several of our members have experienced threatening incidents against their homes in recent days, because they are Jewish,” they wrote.
Police also reported a significant increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes after October 7.
From 7 October to Wednesday 15 November, 23 pieces of information relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict entered the police’s digital hate crime information portal.
In the same period, 14 criminal cases regarding anti-Semitism were filed in Norway. A clear majority of these matters were recorded in Oslo. Four of the criminal cases stem from information to the police portal.
– Compared to the average of such cases so far this year, there is a clear increase in anti-Semitism in the past month, Renate Mihre Medby, chief prosecutor of the Oslo Police Hate Crimes Group, told Dagbladet.
Thus, the number of anti-Semitic attacks increased. But for the Mosaic community, what Cohen described as a lack of solidarity was also painful.
He points out that Oslo City Hall was not lit in the colors of the Israeli flag following the October 7 massacre.
– You ask how are the Jews in Norway now? This is the first bad feeling that appears, Cohn says.
– All signal buildings, from the Sydney Opera House to Downing Street and the Brandenburg Gate, stood in solidarity with Israel after the massacre. Not Oslo City Hall. It increases frustration and feelings of hesitation. I would go so far as to call it an unkind act.
Inside the community center attached to the synagogue in Oslo, Cohen says he just received cancellations from three school classes who were touring the synagogue.
He claims this was because the school did not want to take sides in the ongoing conflict. Askim High School canceled its Kristallnacht celebration on November 9 for the same reason.
Cohn throws up his arms.
This justification is quite disturbing.
He blames ignorance in the connection between commemorating Kristallnacht and taking a position in Israel’s war against Hamas.
The main goal of celebrating Kristallnacht is that it gives us the opportunity to teach our children what to be careful of. A school class that doesn’t come here to visit becomes a little dumber, instead of a little wiser, Cohn says.
He gives an example:
– Fake news did not appear during the era of Donald Trump. It arose in 1144, with the accusation of blood, says Kuhn.
The blood charge is a myth that Jews kidnap Christian children, kill them, and use their blood in their rituals. Jews were executed in Europe on this charge until the 18th century, and were tried on the same charge in the 20th century. Similar accusations It is still presented in our time.
Cohen says: If people had the slightest knowledge of Judaism, they would reject this lie.
The reason is that we Jews have an anxious relationship with blood. We have very strict rules against eating it. If we want to eat meat, it must be salted and watered and salted and watered until it becomes completely unpalatable. It is not permissible for us to eat blood, because we believe that the soul is in the blood. It doesn’t rhyme at all.
Criticism of Israel
– What changed for Norwegian Jews on October 7?
– I have the impression that hatred of Israel has become more legitimate. Many people say: “Can’t we criticize Israel?” He’s knocking on open doors. Sure you can. If there is a country that is criticized, it is Israel. He says: All you have to do is count the number of resolutions in UN bodies.
However, he believes that some of the criticism against Israel is anti-Semitic. Like when an Israeli flag bearing a swastika was hung on a silo in Oslo on November 5.
The Israeli flag with a swastika in the middle is anti-Semitic, Cohen says.
Refers to international Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of the termWhich Norway joined.
Here, “comparing current politics in Israel to those of the Nazis” is cited as an example of anti-Semitism.
We must pay attention to hatred in all its forms. It should not be legitimate to hate anyone, not even Israel. Cohen says that saying that Israel is not a legitimate state is also anti-Semitism.
The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Cohen was also targeted for criticism.
– I myself signed a petition against Netanyahu and his racist government. Cohen says: I have called for a completely different position on the part of Israel regarding peace initiatives towards the Palestinians.
Concerned about the younger ones
For the leadership of the Mosaic community, it is the young Jews who are most concerned about them. In their appeal, they described how a family slashed the tires of their vehicle, then stayed up at night and sent threatening messages to them. A high school-aged boy was reportedly threatened to have his house bombed.
Cohen also describes an incident in which a child as young as ten at school faced questions about why he was killing Palestinian children.
– How should a 10-year-old handle this? Cohen says: You included in the question an accusation that Israeli Jews are killing children in Gaza, and then held a ten-year-old in Norway responsible for the same thing.
Children are the most vulnerable and have the least opportunity to protect themselves.
“Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer.”