In the view of many Europeans, and in particular Scandinavians, not all victims of terror are alike. If, for example, you are an innocent Norwegian child who is gunned down by a deranged right-wing fanatic, you are deserving of compassion and your killer must be punished to the fullest extent of the law. However, if you are a Jew who is gunned down or bombed by a Palestinian, you had it coming and your killer should be released and honored.
That’s the only possible way to interpret the anger being expressed in the region this week in response to remarks made by Israel’s Ambassador to Sweden Isaac Buchman. The ambassador is under fire for asking listeners on Swedish Radio to think about how they would feel if Anders Breivik, the perpetrator of the Utoya Island massacre, were released. Buchman complained that Israel wasn’t getting credit for it’s freeing of 26 Palestinian terrorist murderers in order to entice the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table. But rather than sympathize with the families of Israelis victimized by Palestinian murderers, people in Norway and Sweden are angry about any comparison between their sorrow and that of Jews killed by Arabs. Indeed, as one Swedish paper put it, the families of the Utoya incident are “seething” about the ambassador’s analogy.
In other words, there seems to be some sort of consensus that Breivik’s crimes are beyond the pale while the Jews have it coming when Palestinians kill them. While the Swedes and the Norwegians probably think they are speaking without prejudice, their views display how deep the roots of anti-Semitism run in European culture.
As the Swedish paper The Local reports:
“I think it is ridiculous to compare this with a mass murderer from Norway,” Trond Blattmann, whose son Torjusdatter was killed when Breivik opened fire on Utøya, told The Local. “There’s no similarity at all. This is a ridiculous way to talk.”
“The comparison does not make sense,” added Bjørn Ihler, who survived the massacre by hiding on the southern tip of the island. “Breivik was a solo terrorist whose actions were based purely on an unreal situation. The situation in the Middle East is very different. There is a real fight for Palestinian freedom going on.”
Middle East expert Per Jönsson with the Swedish Institute for International Affairs (Utrikespolitiska institutets – UI) also slammed Bachman’s Breivik comparison.
“The comparison with Breivik is insane in several ways. Breivik is very special. These people that Israel is now releasing are freedom fighters, murderers, and in some cases terrorists, but they are nevertheless rather normal people,” he told the Aftonbladet newspaper.
Contrary to the belief of the Utoya families, the blood of the Jews slaughtered in cold blood by the Palestinians that were acclaimed as heroes this week after their release was no less red than that of Breivik’s victims. The grief of their families was no less profound. The outrage of the people of Israel—and all decent people everywhere—about these wanton acts of murder carried out by Palestinians was no less justified.
The Utoya families view Breivik’s actions as “unreal” and therefore a random act of madness that must somehow be seen as on a different moral plane from Palestinian killings of Jews. But the rationale of each of those Palestinian murderers—some of whom were personally embraced by Israel’s peace partner, Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas—was no less mad or random. Most simply seized any opportunity to find a Jewish victim to kill and claimed the blood they shed was in the name of “freeing Palestine.” Perhaps they should read the accounts of some of these released prisoners to understand the brutality of their crimes and how divorced they were from any rational political struggle.
This is not just the old debate about one person’s terrorists being another’s “freedom fighter.” This is about what is, in the words of the so-called Middle East expert quoted in the Swedish paper, defined as “normal.” In his view, and apparently in the opinion of most of the Swedes and Norwegians who agree with him, there is something “normal” about an average Palestinian wanting to kill a Jew because it is part of an existential desire to eradicate the Jewish presence in the country. By being in Israel (and most of their victims were not “settlers” even though even the members of that apparently despised group also have a right not to be murdered), the Jew is transformed into prey. Like a deer or other animal during hunting season, Europeans seem to think any Israeli is a legitimate target.
Whatever you may think about where Israel’s borders should be drawn, by treating terror carried out by Palestinians against Jews as legitimate, Europeans are signaling not only that they approve of this cause but also that Jewish lives are less precious than their own. The families of the Utoya victims deserve our sympathy in their grief. But they, and other Europeans who are “seething” about any comparison between their children and dead Jews, have crossed the line into anti-Semitism.