Commentary Magazine


Topic: Anders Breivik

Why the World Thinks Jewish Blood Is Cheap

While visiting Israel this week, Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide grudgingly admitted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s commitment to Israeli-Palestinian talks “sounds increasingly credible.” As proof, he cited Israel’s release of 26 Palestinian murderers earlier this month. But he immediately downplayed the move’s significance: While it was a “first sign,” he said, it “wasn’t an especially big sacrifice.”

This echoes Norwegian and Swedish reactions two weeks ago after Israel’s ambassador to Sweden compared Israel’s feelings about freeing those killers to how Norwegians would feel about freeing Anders Breivik, whose 2011 shooting spree killed 69 Norwegians, mostly teenagers. Outraged Scandinavians lined up to denounce the comparison, asserting that while Breivik was a mass murderer, the Palestinians were freedom fighters. As Jonathan wrote at the time, the general sentiment seemed to be that killers of Norwegians deserve punishment, but killers of Israelis “should be released and honored.” And that seems to be Eide’s view as well: Releasing cold-blooded killers who murdered elderly Holocaust survivors or old men sitting on park benches isn’t “an especially big sacrifice,” certainly nothing like releasing Breivik would be.

Read More

While visiting Israel this week, Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide grudgingly admitted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s commitment to Israeli-Palestinian talks “sounds increasingly credible.” As proof, he cited Israel’s release of 26 Palestinian murderers earlier this month. But he immediately downplayed the move’s significance: While it was a “first sign,” he said, it “wasn’t an especially big sacrifice.”

This echoes Norwegian and Swedish reactions two weeks ago after Israel’s ambassador to Sweden compared Israel’s feelings about freeing those killers to how Norwegians would feel about freeing Anders Breivik, whose 2011 shooting spree killed 69 Norwegians, mostly teenagers. Outraged Scandinavians lined up to denounce the comparison, asserting that while Breivik was a mass murderer, the Palestinians were freedom fighters. As Jonathan wrote at the time, the general sentiment seemed to be that killers of Norwegians deserve punishment, but killers of Israelis “should be released and honored.” And that seems to be Eide’s view as well: Releasing cold-blooded killers who murdered elderly Holocaust survivors or old men sitting on park benches isn’t “an especially big sacrifice,” certainly nothing like releasing Breivik would be.

But while I agree with Jonathan that this double standard is anti-Semitic, I don’t think the Scandinavians are solely to blame. If much of the world has concluded that (Jewish) Israelis’ blood is cheap, and that their killers don’t deserve the same punishment as those who kill, say, Norwegians, a large share of the blame belongs to successive Israeli governments. For by repeatedly releasing Palestinian murderers under circumstances no other government would contemplate, Israeli governments have shown that they hold the blood of Israeli citizens cheaply. And if even Israel’s government doesn’t view murdering Israelis as a crime that deserves life imprisonment, why should anyone else?

I’m not talking here about lopsided exchanges like the 1,027 Palestinian terrorists Israel freed to ransom kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. Though I have consistently opposed such swaps on other grounds, they don’t treat Israeli life cheaply; on the contrary, they reflect just how far Israel will go to save even one life.

But the same doesn’t hold for other prisoner releases. In 2008, for instance, Israel traded five live terrorists–including a particularly vicious killer, Samir Kuntar, whose murders included smashing a 4-year-old’s skull against a rock with a rifle butt–for two dead bodies. What other country would treat the murder of its citizens so cheaply that it would release their killers in exchange for corpses?

Israel has also freed thousands of prisoners over the years as “goodwill gestures” toward the Palestinian Authority, and though most weren’t actually murderers, they generally were involved in anti-Israel terror. Other countries free terrorists only under formal peace agreements, not as mere “goodwill gestures” to facilitate talks; thus again, this teaches the world that Israeli governments don’t consider anti-Israel terror so terrible.

But the nadir was Netanyahu’s agreement to release 104 Palestinians, almost all of them vicious killers, in four stages (the 26 freed this month were the first), solely to get Palestinian negotiators to talk with their Israeli counterparts. What other country would free murderers who killed hundreds of its citizens just to bribe another party into talks whose sole aim is to give them the land and sovereignty they claim to want?

Norway assuredly wouldn’t release Breivik under such circumstances. And that’s precisely why Norwegians view any comparison of Breivik to Palestinian killers as ridiculous: If Israelis really considered the freed Palestinians’ crimes on a par with Breivik’s, they think, then Israel wouldn’t release them, either.

Thus while there are many reasons to oppose Netanyahu’s decision, this may be the weightiest of all: By freeing those killers, Israel has once again taught the world to view Jewish blood as cheap.

Read Less

Caring for Pigs More Than for Humans

Reading Jonathan Tobin’s take on Scandinavian outrage with the Israeli ambassador to Norway, who dared compare the release of Palestinian murderers with letting Anders Breivik free, I was reminded of an odd news item which appeared only three days ago in a Swedish English-language local news outlet. The story, published in The Local on August 13, was headlined “Sweden demands mate for man’s lonely pig.”

The report, I kid you not, concerns a pig on a farm who has no friends to play with or partners to mate with. It is of course a fate that may befall many a creature, even more charming ones than this lonely Swedish hog. But in Sweden, it appears, it is the business of government to ensure that a pig, deemed as the article helpfully explains to be a social animal, is not raised alone–or lonely, so to speak.

And lest farmers hold the law in contempt, there are animal welfare inspectors at hand to ensure that a pig will get satisfaction–until it’s sausage season, at least.

Read More

Reading Jonathan Tobin’s take on Scandinavian outrage with the Israeli ambassador to Norway, who dared compare the release of Palestinian murderers with letting Anders Breivik free, I was reminded of an odd news item which appeared only three days ago in a Swedish English-language local news outlet. The story, published in The Local on August 13, was headlined “Sweden demands mate for man’s lonely pig.”

The report, I kid you not, concerns a pig on a farm who has no friends to play with or partners to mate with. It is of course a fate that may befall many a creature, even more charming ones than this lonely Swedish hog. But in Sweden, it appears, it is the business of government to ensure that a pig, deemed as the article helpfully explains to be a social animal, is not raised alone–or lonely, so to speak.

And lest farmers hold the law in contempt, there are animal welfare inspectors at hand to ensure that a pig will get satisfaction–until it’s sausage season, at least.

That carries significant consequences for society–for when you have such regulations you must also have regulators, and all that jazz about pigs and their right to a friend ends up costing quite a bit of public money to implement. That fact raises the question of social priorities–which in turn helps explain why, when the Israeli ambassador sought to elicit empathy among his audience by asking how people would feel if Breivik were to be released, his listeners probably thought he came from another planet. Notice that they were not being asked to identify with Israel, just to understand at a human level what it means to see the murderer of your loved ones go free.

The ambassador’s listeners, who would probably sympathize with the pig’s plight and support active state intervention to cater to its needs, were at a loss to see why the victims of Anders Breivik inhabited the same moral category of the victims of Palestinian terrorists. His mistake–and ours, in so far as we continue to speak about common Western values in reference to certain segments of European society–was to plead for a common humanity, when in truth there is none left.

They care about pigs more than they care about Jews.

Read Less

Scandinavia: Jews Deserve Terror, Not Us

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.

Read More

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. 

Read Less

Breivik Isn’t Insane, But Norway’s Legal System Might Be

Anders Breivik, the man accused of murdering 77 people in Norway, testified yesterday before a five-judge panel which will decide whether he’s guilty and whether he’s insane. There’s more than enough evidence for the guilt; he’s admitted to the attack. But Breivik’s performance in court yesterday should remove any shred of doubt that he was sane and fully aware when he allegedly carried out the massacre.

And it really was a performance. Walking into the court, the accused killer gave a Nazi-like fist pump. He told prosecutors his one regret was that he attacked a youth camp instead of a journalism conference nearby. And he showed zero remorse for the massacre, calling it “spectacular” during a drawn-out explanation of his motivations:

Norwegian gunman Anders Behring Breivik defended his massacre of 77 people, insisting today he would do it all again and calling his rampage the most “spectacular” attack by a nationalist militant since World War II.

Reading a prepared statement in court, the anti-Muslim extremist lashed out at Norwegian and European governments for embracing immigration and multiculturalism. …

Breivik has five days to explain why he set off a bomb in Oslo’s government district on July 22, killing eight people, and then gunned down 69 others at a Labor Party youth camp outside the Norwegian capital. He denies criminal guilt, saying he was acting in self-defense, and claims the targets were part of a conspiracy to “deconstruct” Norway’s cultural identity.

“The attacks on July 22 were a preventive strike. I acted in self-defense on behalf of my people, my city, my country,” he said as he finished his statement, in essence a summary of the 1,500-page manifesto he posted online before the attacks. “I therefore demand to be found innocent of the present charges.” …

According to Breivik, Western Europe was gradually taken over by “Marxists and multiculturalists” after World War II because it didn’t have “anti-communist” leaders like U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy. The senator dominated the early 1950s with his sensational but unproven charges of Communist subversion in high government circles in the U.S.

Read More

Anders Breivik, the man accused of murdering 77 people in Norway, testified yesterday before a five-judge panel which will decide whether he’s guilty and whether he’s insane. There’s more than enough evidence for the guilt; he’s admitted to the attack. But Breivik’s performance in court yesterday should remove any shred of doubt that he was sane and fully aware when he allegedly carried out the massacre.

And it really was a performance. Walking into the court, the accused killer gave a Nazi-like fist pump. He told prosecutors his one regret was that he attacked a youth camp instead of a journalism conference nearby. And he showed zero remorse for the massacre, calling it “spectacular” during a drawn-out explanation of his motivations:

Norwegian gunman Anders Behring Breivik defended his massacre of 77 people, insisting today he would do it all again and calling his rampage the most “spectacular” attack by a nationalist militant since World War II.

Reading a prepared statement in court, the anti-Muslim extremist lashed out at Norwegian and European governments for embracing immigration and multiculturalism. …

Breivik has five days to explain why he set off a bomb in Oslo’s government district on July 22, killing eight people, and then gunned down 69 others at a Labor Party youth camp outside the Norwegian capital. He denies criminal guilt, saying he was acting in self-defense, and claims the targets were part of a conspiracy to “deconstruct” Norway’s cultural identity.

“The attacks on July 22 were a preventive strike. I acted in self-defense on behalf of my people, my city, my country,” he said as he finished his statement, in essence a summary of the 1,500-page manifesto he posted online before the attacks. “I therefore demand to be found innocent of the present charges.” …

According to Breivik, Western Europe was gradually taken over by “Marxists and multiculturalists” after World War II because it didn’t have “anti-communist” leaders like U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy. The senator dominated the early 1950s with his sensational but unproven charges of Communist subversion in high government circles in the U.S.

This isn’t the argument of an insane person; it’s the argument of a twisted and ugly ideologue. Breivik’s beliefs are certainly delusional, but his actual argument follows the thought-pattern of someone who is sane and lucid. He is clearly aware of the gravity of the massacre and discusses specific ways he would alter his plan if he had a chance to do it again. He offers a motivation for the attack and lays out his case for self-defense. They are appalling, to be sure. But those who argue he’s insane are denying the real evil that appears to have driven him.

Moreover, the panel of judges sat through Breivik’s extended rant, in essence giving him a prominent international media platform to spout his extremism. When victims’ families asked why the court was allowing this, Breivik threatened to stop speaking at all if his diatribes were curtailed:

Mette Yvonne Larsen, a lawyer representing victims’ families, also interrupted Breivik, saying she was getting complaints from victims who were concerned that the defendant was turning the trial into a platform to profess his extremist views. Her remarks prompted the judge to again urge Breivik to wrap it up.

Breivik replied if he wasn’t allowed to continue he might not speak at all.

Breivik has admitted to massacring 77 people – including teenagers – and seems proud of it. For that, he faces a maximum sentence of 21 years in prison and was given a courtroom platform to espouse his noxious political beliefs at length. Plenty has already been said about the disgraceful leniency of the Norwegian legal system as it applies to this case, but seeing photos of Breivik strolling into the courtroom with a smile on his face and a fist bump really emphasizes the injustice of it all.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.