December 17, 2020
This is the fifth installment of a series on the State of Antisemitism Around the Globe, in which AJC experts share their insights about nine international communities where particular expressions of Jew hatred are on the rise. The next piece will focus on Africa.
Movements to ban infant circumcision have swept through Iceland, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, threatening to make it difficult for Jews to practice their faith and continue to call Europe home. Other, more violent trends have swept through the Nordic countries, as well.
Leading up to Yom Kippur this year, Neo-Nazis calling themselves the Nordic Resistance Movement confronted Jewish worshipers outside synagogues in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland and distributed propaganda to “make the Nordic people aware of foreign customs and Zionist ruling plans throughout the Nordic region.” The antisemitic campaign prompted Sweden to consider making active membership of any racist group a criminal offense and drove the Supreme Court of Finland to issue a cease-and-desist order.
In Malmö, a coastal city in southern Sweden, demonstrators in September chanted about the massacre of Jews. In Norway, an Oslo police magistrate reportedly permitted posters accusing Jews of “cruelty against animals, abuse of women and pedophilia.” And in western Denmark, a Jewish cemetery was vandalized on the anniversary of Kristallnacht last year.
Armed police have been stationed outside Copenhagen's main synagogue since 2015, when an extremist claiming to act in the name of Islam shot and killed Jewish volunteer Dan Uzan, who was guarding 80 children gathered inside for a bat mitzvah. Uzan was honored posthumously with AJC’s Moral Courage Award at AJC Global Forum later that year.
The Government of Denmark will soon present a national action plan to combat antisemitism, and the Prime Minister of Sweden will host an international conference on fighting antisemitism next October in Malmö, said Rabbi Andrew Baker, AJC Director of International Jewish Affairs.
“These problems are daunting, and governments must step forward,” Baker said. “These are important measures that we hope will improve the life of Scandinavian Jewry.”