Iceland’s Long History of Anti-Semitism

April 4, 2018 | Manfred Gerstenfeld
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The Icelandic parliament is currently considering a bill that will outlaw circumcision. To Manfred Gerstenfeld, the proposed law is of a piece with the island nation’s long history of anti-Semitism:

Every year, during the Lent period before Easter, daily hymns full of hatred for the Jews are read by distinguished citizens and broadcast on Iceland’s public-radio station. These texts were written in the 17th century—many years before the first Jews arrived in the country—by the Christian priest, poet, and anti-Semite Halgrimur Petterson. One hymn, entitled “The Demand for Crucifixion,” reads: “The Jewish leaders all decide that Jesus must be crucified. The Prince of Life their prey must be. The murderer set at liberty.” In 2012, the Simon Wiesenthal Center tried in vain to stop this hateful practice of performing such hymns.

Iceland also gave warm refuge to the Estonian Nazi war criminal Evald Mikson. At the end of the 1980s, the Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff tried to bring Mikson to trial for his involvement in the murder of Jews in Estonia. This led to many Icelandic media attacks against Israel. And the country’s government took more than ten years after Zuroff’s initial appeals to set up a commission to investigate Mikson’s war crimes. . . .

In 2015, the city council of the country’s capital, Reykjavik, decided to boycott Israeli-produced goods. . . . In 2011, Iceland’s parliament was the first in Western Europe to recognize a Palestinian state. . . . And Iceland’s Birgitta Jonsdottir was the first parliamentarian of any country to visit participants of the failed second Gaza flotilla.

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