Muslim youth inspire more than 1,000 Norwegians to stand in solidarity at an Oslo synagogue. But not everybody’s feeling the love.
Text and photos by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org
A group of Muslim youth successfully organized a globally publicized event in solidarity with Norway’s Jewish community on Saturday. In the wake of anti-Jewish violence the previous week in Denmark and earlier attacks in France, they flooded the street in front of the Oslo Synagogue with more than 1,000 supporters to form a symbolic “Ring of Peace.”
The response in Norway and around the globe was almost universally positive. Almost, because — gasp —these Muslim youth also support Palestine and criticize Israel. Norway’s version of AIPAC, ADL, and CUFI all rolled into one is called MIFF (Med Israel for Fred, “With Israel for Peace”). And yes, they were miffed that Hajrah Arshad, the 17-year-old dynamo who organized the event with several friends had an image on her Facebook page calling for a free Palestine that did not include 1967 borders. Because as we all know, the 1967 borders are sacred to all card-carrying Zionists. And the Israeli Tourism Ministry’s own maps, which are about as honest of a representation of Israel’s version of the two-state solution as you’ll ever see (hint: no West Bank border, only Areas A and B).
By contrast with MIFF, prominent Jewish leaders including Ervin Kohn, president of the Jewish Community of Oslo, were “extremely positive” about the support demonstrated by Arshad and her friends.
“I have been very impressed,” said Jewish Community board member Michael Gritzman. “I hope this will spread to other countries.”
Binyamin Ben Katzman of Jerusalem expressed a more charitable attitude toward the teen organizer’s Palestine solidarity in a Facebook comment: “As an Israeli and a Jew, I want to say thank you to Hajrah Arshad. Maybe we will disagree about Israel, but what you are doing brings pride and unity to Muslims and Jews.”
“The organizers did not want this event to be a platform for a debate on Israel and Palestine,” said Kathrine Jensen, chair of the Palestine Committee of Norway, “a decision we supported fully since we make a clear distinction between Israel and Jews. This event was about protecting our Jewish minority. We find it unacceptable that Jews feel unsafe in Norway. They are Norwegian citizens and should not be held responsible for Israeli politics.”
More serious...Read More