Norwegian state broadcaster NRK provoked a predictable response on Tuesday when they published a “satirical video” with a joke where the punchline was “Jødesvin” or Jewish pig.
The animated video published on both Facebook and NRK’s online TV site shows two men sitting at a table in a park playing scrabble. One man, old, in a black suit, with kippa and beard is obviously Jewish. The other man, young in shorts, t-shirt and with strawberry blond hair, is obviously not.
The old man jokes to the young man that he is taking a long time to think about what word to play, that the young man can just give up if he wants, that the situation doesn’t look good for him in the game. It them cuts out to a view framing the Jewish man at the top of the picture with the young man’s letters at the bottom spelling out “Jødesvin” – Jewish pig.
The Jewish man comments “you have to have a very good word if you are going to beat me”. The Jewish man chuckles at his superiority and says, “we are at different levels mentally” (nb full script is not translated here).
The video has caused upset and anger in the small Jewish community in Norway where Jews number approximately 1500. The video has been viewed 50,000 times at time of writing, a large reach in a country with a population of 4 million. Complaints so far have mostly fallen on deaf ears, NRK have replied to complaints with a text saying that satire is supposed to be painful. Comments on the Facebook posting of the video range from mundane to the usual conspiracy theories, to great praise from Norway’s far right leader and his political party. The production company who created the cartoon “Norsk Grønsaker” (Norwegian vegetables) originally shared the video on their Facebook page with the comment “Tag a Jew” – this was later amended after complaints. Facebook has also removed the video from the production company webpage on more than one occasion.
Among the negative online comments there are some positive messages. A post about the video from the Jewish Community of Oslo has received almost 100 positive replies.
Spokesperson of the Oslo Jewish Community Ervin Kohn commented “Someone commented on Facebook, were there no adults at home at NRK the day this way published?”
Scrabble manufacturers Mattel were contacted for comment, PR Director for Europe Amarilis Whitty replied “We did not authorize this (use of the Scrabble name) and we are looking into this matter”.