BERLIN (JTA) — The confessed perpetrator in the attack in Norway that killed at least 76 people espoused a right-wing philosophy against Islam that also purports to be pro-Zionist.
Anders Behring Breivik is charged with detonating a car bomb outside Oslo’s government headquarters, which houses the office of Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, that killed eight people and of shooting and killing at least 68 mostly young people at a political summer camp on nearby Utoya Island. The July 22 massacre reportedly was the the worst attack in Norway since the end of World War II.
In numerous online postings, including a manifesto published on the day of the attacks, Breivik promoted the Vienna School or Crusader Nationalism philosophy, a mishmash of anti-modern principles that also calls for “the deportation of all Muslims from Europe” as well as from “the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”
According to the manifesto, titled “2083: A European Declaration of Independence” and published under the pseudonym Andrew Berwick, the Vienna School supports “pro-Zionism/Israeli nationalism.”
Breivik listed numerous European Freedom Parties and neo-Nazi parties as potential allies because of their anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim stance, and mentioned that right-wing populists like Dutch politician Geert Wilders “have to condemn us at this point which is fine. It is after all essential that they protect their reputational shields.”
Among the potential allies he listed for Germany were the three largest neo-Nazi parties — the National Democratic Party, Deutsche Volksunion and Republikaner. In Holland, Wilders’ Freedom Party topped the list, and the British National Party topped a long list of potential supporters in the United Kingdom.
European right-populist parties increasingly have been waving the flag of friendship with Israel, as well as expressing vehement opposition to Europe’s multicultural society.
Last month, after it emerged that German-Swedish far-right politician Patrik Brinkmann had met in Berlin with Israeli Likud Party lawmaker Ayoub Kara, who is deputy minister for development of the Negev and Galilee, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman wrote to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanding that Kara be prevented from making further trips abroad. According to Ynet, Lieberman accused Kara of meeting with neo-Nazis and causing damage to Israel’s image. Brinkman said he had reached out to Israeli rightists hoping to build a coalition against Islam.
In postings on the website Document.no that appear to be by Breivik, the poster pondered whether one could “accept the moderate Nazis as long as they distance themselves” from the extermination of the Jews.
The words of right-wing populist politicians “are dangerous, it allows them to radicalize,” Hajo Funke, an expert on right-wing extremism in Europe and the Holocaust at Touro College Berlin and the Free University Berlin, told JTA in a phone interview.
“It is a tactical viewpoint of the rising populist right-wing to use this kind of identification, or forced identification with Israel, to be accepted,” he said. “They say, ‘Our enemies are not any more the Jew … the real enemy as you can see all over the world is Islam, and not only Islam, but the Islamic person.’ This is the new, great danger.”
Stephan Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told JTA that “in the recent years we have witnessed the phenomenon of radical rightists proclaiming their sympathy for Jews and their support for Israel, also in Germany,” adding that “In many cases, it is clear that this is no more than a PR maneuver to create an air of respectability.”
“Whatever ‘support’ for Israel Anders Behring Breivik may have had in his abominable mind, it is not any kind of support we want,” Kramer said.
One day after the attack, members of Norway’s small Jewish community gathered at the Synagogue of Oslo to pray for the survivors.
“We also pray that the authorities will be less naive on security issues and threats,” businessman Erwin Kohn, newly elected head of the 750-member Jewish community, said in a telephone interview from Oslo.
Kohn added that it appeared that no one in the Jewish community was injured or killed in the attack, but “we are affected just the same as the Norwegian society in general.”
On the reports about Breivik’s online postings, he offered his concerns.
“You have many others who are in the same ballpark, being scared of multiculturalism,” Kohn said, adding that Breivik’s alleged pro-Zionism is a sham. “We don’t need such friends, we don’t need such friends.”
Serge Cwajgenbaum, secretary general of the European Jewish Congress, in a call from France said that Breivik “is not pro-Israel — he is anti-Muslim.
“It is a national catastrophe,” he said, “and we share the sadness of the sorrow of the families.”
German journalist Ulrich Sahm reported on the pro-Israel Israelnetz.com website that many of the youths who survived the massacre said they thought the killer, dressed as a police officer, was simulating Israeli crimes against Palestinians in the occupied territories. They believed that “the cruelty of the Israeli occupation” was being demonstrated to them, Sahm wrote.
Meanwhile, Israel on Saturday night condemned the attacks in Oslo.
“Nothing at all can justify such wanton violence, and we condemn this brutal action with the utmost gravity,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We stand in solidarity with the people and government of Norway in this hour of trial, and trust Norwegian authorities to bring to justice those responsible for this heinous crime.”
Israeli President Shimon Peres called the king of Norway, Harald V, to express condolences. “Your country is a symbol of peace and freedom. In Israel we followed the events over the weekend in Norway and the attack on innocent civilians broke our hearts. It is a painful tragedy that touches every human being. We send our condolences to the families that lost their loved ones and a speedy recovery to the wounded. Israel is willing to assist in whatever is needed,” Peres said, according to his office.
The king thanked Peres for his phone call and for the expression of Israeli solidarity.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visited Norway last week and was told that Oslo will recognize Palestine, but not immediately.
While much attention in Norway has been focused on the threat of Muslim extremism, the threat from the far right was generally considered to have abated.
Kohn noted that anti-Semitism in the country remains a serious problem. A recent study of 7,000 Norwegian teens showed that more than half of youth of all backgrounds, whether Christian or Muslim, use the word “Jew” as an expletive.
Anecdotally, Kohn said, “one-third of the Jewish kids in our schools have experienced harassment … but not from one specific group.”