Iceland’s New Antisemitic Threshold – A Psychiatric Illness?

Iceland is more than its tourist posters of geysers, volcanoes, the

singer Bjork and the Northern Lights. It has now stretched
antisemitism to new outer limits, rendering it almost a psychiatric

An Icelandic “artist”, Snorri Asmundsson, has posted a YouTube clip
to the background of Israel’s natural anthem, HaTikva (The Hope),
featuring a woman in a burqa pulled out of the frame by a man wearing a star of David armband, transvestites lampooning Israel’s
Eurovision contest singer, Dana International, and two Down’s Syndrome young men dressed as orthodox Jewish Hassidim [HATIKVA by SNORRI ASMUNDSSON]

Asmundsson, apparently challenges accusations that his clip is
antisemitic, by weirdly arguing that such claims would be construed as
collectively offending LBGT transsexuals and the handicapped.

When I was invited to address the dozen,mainly Lutheran, members of
the Icelandic – Israel Friendship group in Reykjavik in 1986, there
were very few Jews residing in Iceland. Today they number less than
one hundred and several fear to be publicly identified.

Already, at that time, the group was concerned at the growing number
of Arab students at the University developing into an anti-Israeli

They spoke of the 1934 establishment of the Iceland Nazi Party and the
1930’s deportation of Jewish fugitives from Nazi Germany. The
high-point came after the Anglo-American occupation in 1941, aimed to
block an Axis invasion that would have controlled the Atlantic
sea-routes. 1941-1945 saw over 2,000 Jewish soldiers billeted in

In 1998, the Wiesenthal Centre’s Efraim Zuroff forced public
attention to Icelandic hospitality granted Estonian Nazi collaborator,
Ewald Mixon, better known to Icelanders as Edward Hinriksson,a
football goalee with two sons playing in the national team. His death
and government procrastination relieved the authorities of bringing
him to justice.

The 2003 marriage of Israeli-born, British diamond heiress Dorrit
Moussaieff, to Iceland’s – no friend of Israel – President Olafur
Ragnar Grimsson, was hoped to improve the relationship. The First
Lady, however, stayed away from Jewish contacts and has
now, reportedly, resumed her residency in London.

Following the 2008 bank crashes,perhaps in the context of seeking Arab
financial relief, Moussouef was accused as being “part of a Jewish
conspiracy”. Perhaps seeking Muslim bloc support for a non-permanent
seat on the UN Security Council, the government became ever more
anti-Israel An opinion poll marked 70% of the 320,000 Icelanders as
pro-Palestinian and only 30% as pro-Israel.

The Gaza operations saw solidarity rallies, as elsewhere in Europe,
brandishing antisemitic slogans and imagery. A bicycle-shop in
Reykjavik posted a warning: “Jews Unwelcome.”

Now Iceland, so proud of its Althing, Europe’s first Parliament and
its ostensible concern for the oppressed – is the first country to
host a new and sickening threshold in antisemitism: the conflation of
“Jew,” “Zionist,” “Trans-sexual” and “Down’s Syndrome” – thereby
belittling the cause and the rights of each.

Is this new emanation a political stratagem or a mental illness? If
the latter, there may still be hope for a psychiatric cure.

About the Author
Shimon Samuels is Director for International Relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He has served as Deputy Director of the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, European Director of ADL, and Israel Director of AJC. He was born in UK and studied in UK, Israel, U.S. and Japan.