Mayor of Oslo Anne Lindboe: “Jews in Oslo hide in fear. How did we got here?”

Mayor of Oslo, Anne Lindboe, wrote an op-ed about the rise of antisemitism in her city and the fears of the local Jewish community in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.

“Recently, I celebrated Shabbat at the home of “Johanna” and her family. Her name is not Johanna, but for security reasons, I am calling her that. For Jews, it is a day to focus on family, friends, and God. I participated in lighting the two traditional candles, and we sang Shalom Aleichem and wished each other peace before sharing blessed wine and the traditional braided bread, challah.

But something was different this time. The seven-branched candelabrum, the menorah, was no longer in the window facing the street. It was hidden away facing the backyard. Around the table, there was an empty chair in memory of the remaining Jewish hostages.

In November 1942, the ship “Donau” left Oslo with 529 Jewish men, women, and children on board. Very few returned.

While my grandmother was playing in the snow, “Johanna’s” grandmother was fleeing for her life.

Today, there are only about 1,500 Jews in Norway. A small minority with a brutal history and deep wounds.

In January, I spoke on International Holocaust Remembrance Day at Akershuskaia. Jewish youths shared the stories of some of the victims, while their voices were nearly drowned out by the sound of protesters.

A few weeks ago, I attended the reopening of the Jewish residential and senior centre, right next to the synagogue. We sang and affixed a mezuzah, the symbol of a Jewish home, to the doorframe.

I wondered why there was no press present, as there always is when we open a new nursing home in Oslo. The answer was that we cannot expose our elderly to the demonstrations that would then occur outside. The burden is already heavy enough with the concrete barriers and armed police greeting you at the entrance.

There are fewer Jewish men wearing kippahs in Oslo now. Fathers and grandfathers take them off before picking up their children from nursery or school, to avoid their children being harassed.

“Johanna” is scared. On 17th May this year, she decided to stay indoors. She fears hostile looks and harassment, but most of all, she fears the consequences for herself and her Jewish family when they have to hide who they are. She says that many are considering moving.

I couldn’t sleep after dinner at “Johanna’s.” I thought about those who go to bed with a baseball bat beside them.

How did we get here? Why can’t we support our small Jewish minority while clearly stating that the horrific acts of war must stop?

I felt a sense of shame over my own passivity. Afraid of hurting those who suffer because of Gaza, I have closed my eyes to what is happening to the Jewish population in my own city.

Dear Oslo citizens, look out for your Jewish neighbours now. Protecting the small Jewish minority does not mean we condone Israel’s acts of war in Gaza. Jews in Oslo are not to blame

Now, “Johanna” hides her gold Star of David under her sweater before going out. Her grandmother had to wear the yellow cloth star visibly on her chest. We must not forget that.”


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