A smiling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with his Norwegian counterpart, Erna Solberg, in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday, and one of the topics on the agenda was Netanyahu's son's new Norwegian girlfriend.
Netanyahu reportedly revealed to Solberg that his son, Yair, had recently vacationed in the northern part of Norway with his new girlfriend, Sandra Leikanger, a Norwegian national who is currently studying at Israel's Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.
Norwegian news agency Dagen managed to snag some photos of Yair and Sandra together in Norway from her Facebook page. A day later, Leikanger quickly restricted public access to the images, and declined to comment to Dagen on the matter.
As Netanyahu is one of the world's foremost terrorist targets, he is the subject of constant and strict security measures. Dagen contacted Norway's Police Security Service (PST) to ask what special measures had been taken to protect Netanyahu's son during his recent visit.
More than 20 Christian leaders from Norway presented a statement to the Israeli Knesset this week asking the Jewish state to forgive them.
The declaration asks Israel to forgive Norway as a nation for the Oslo Accords and dividing the Land of Israel.
The Oslo Accords were discussed in the Norwegian capital and signed 20 years ago on the White House lawn between former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat in the presence of then President Bill Clinton.
It essentially created the Palestinian Authority to rule in biblical Judea and Samaria. It was intended to be a framework for a five-year plan to establish a Palestinian state in Israel's biblical heartland.
The declaration from the Christians also asked for forgiveness for Norwegian money that ended up supporting terrorist organizations; not moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; for not standing up to defend Israel; and for the anti-Semitic and anti-Zionistic attitude from politicians and media in Norway.
The declaration also asks for forgiveness as a Church for "not standing up more clearly to stop the Norwegian anti-Israel political attitude," for those who reject Israel's role in God's plan, and for "lukewarmness" regarding persecution.
It also re-affirmed Israel as the "spiritual mother of the church" that had given the scriptures, prophets, apostles, and the Messiah himself.
The document was presented to Deputy Knesset speaker Gila Gamiel with copies to each of the 120 Knesset (parliament) members.
Oslo and Trondheim’s synagogues and Jewish community centers are among the most heavily fortified buildings in Norway
In the cold, dark mist of the afternoon of Nov. 26, 1942, the SS Donau sailed out of the Oslofjord with 532 unwilling passengers.
They were Jews, robbed of all their earthly possessions, kidnapped and imprisoned, on their way to the Polish port of Stettin, from which they would be transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. All but nine were murdered there.
There were other such deadly transports before and after, but the Donau was the largest.
In the early fall of 1942, there were about 2,100 Jews in Norway. Of these, about 780 were killed in the Holocaust. Norway’s Nazi occupiers initiated the genocidal program as directed by the Wannsee Conference, but it was the country’s Quisling regime, aided by Norwegian ”security police,” that implemented it: Only after the Jews had been brought to the pier in Oslo were they delivered into German custody.
With a few brave exceptions, most Norwegians stood by as their Jewish neighbors disappeared.
Those Jews who had the means fled and found temporary homes, primarily in Sweden, but also in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. A disproportionately high number of Norwegian Jews volunteered for military and clandestine work for the Allied war effort, which they served with distinction.
Following the war, it took several years for Norwegian Jews to return to their country.
The much-heralded White Buses program did not compile or present a list of Jewish Norwegians to Himmler or camp commanders, and those few Jews from Norway who walked out of the camps had to find their own way home.
Many of the stateless Jewish refugees who fled to Sweden in the 1930s were refused re-entry into Norway after the war. Others were reluctant to attempt to reclaim stolen property or rebuild a community in shambles. Many families have yet to return, and probably never will.
Much has happened in Norway since World War II. The small kingdom has in full measure adopted social welfare reforms and financed them with abundant fossil fuel production in the North Sea.
Norway now consistently ranks in the global top five for GDP per capita, human development, political stability, democracy and other indexes.
But on the 70th anniversary of the departure of the Donau, it is time to ask: How far has Norway come in developing the ability to prevent such an act from happening again?
There is no lack of good intentions. The Holocaust is a mandatory subject in all primary schools, and political parties across the entire spectrum categorically denounce anti-Semitism.
But the Jewish community is struggling. There are about 800 members of the country’s two prominent Jewish congregations (in Oslo and Trondheim), and probably fewer than 2,000 self-identified Jews in Norway. Several hundred Norwegian Jews have made aliya, and others have emigrated to the United States and elsewhere.
The two synagogues and adjacent community centers are among the most heavily fortified buildings in Norway, and a large number of Jews have chosen to keep their Jewish background secret to all but their closest family, or to abandon it altogether.
Norway takes pride in promoting an open, inclusive democracy, but is clearly unable to nurture a vibrant, growing Jewish community.
Until recently, Norwegian politicians, journalists and academics were in denial about this. The Jewish community was small, individuals were by and large well-integrated and productive members of society, and it seemed inconceivable that a country with such high ideals could have an anti-Semitism problem.
But facts have become difficult to ignore.
A survey among primary school students in Oslo found that the system’s handful of Jewish students were by far the most bullied and maligned of any group. The term ”Jew” has been widely adopted as a derogatory term, and concerned teachers choose to stay anonymous in the media for fear of reprisals. School authorities tell Jewish students that wearing a Star of David constitutes a provocation.