Jews in Norway tend to hide their identity


Northern Europe


Illustratitive picture. Photo AFP, Boris Horvat

More Jews are hiding their identity in Norway, the Holocaust centre in Oslo says. In the meantime, a school in the capital repeatedly suffers from anti-Semitic symbols. As soon as the one has disappeared, the next one comes up.

That is reported by the Christian daily in Norway, Vart Land. The impression among Jewish students is that the school is not eager enough to get the tags removed. In 2019, for instance, the tag “Jews are not people” stood for several months on the wall. This year, a swastika has there been all-year long since January.

The newspaper has spoken to two former students of the Majorstuen Skole, Maja Haaland and Maya Kristoffersen. Both have suffered from jokes about Jews as well. Haaland and Kristoffersen are a team from the Jewish community to raise awareness around anti-Semitism in the Norwegian society. Majorstuen has both primary and secondary education.


Haaland and Kristoffersen think the school does too little to combat anti-Semitism. Haaland says, she has heard jokes about Jews around her and even seen that other students painted a Hitler moustache on themselves and made the Hitler salute. “I notice that among boys of that age there is a culture of joking about the Holocaust”, says Haaland. “I don't think they have violent intentions, but I think it's a bit too easy to just say they're little boys who don't know what they're doing. The Holocaust is Norwegian common knowledge. If they don't know what they are doing, then we as a society have failed both them and all Norwegian Jews.”

“You get a real punch in your stomach when you see things like this on the way into school”, says Maya Kristoffersen.

The school says to Vart Land, it takes anti-Semitism “very seriously” and have removed the swastika as soon as it knew about it.

Hiding identity

According to the Holocaust Centre in Oslo, it appears that several Jews in the country hide their identity for fear of negative attitudes. In 2017, the proportion who hid their religious affiliation was 60 per cent, while in this year’s survey 71 per cent answered that they hide their Jewish identity. Above that, Jews experience more discrimination than in the past. This also applies to Muslims.

Maya Kristoffersen says, it is difficult for Jews “to fight back” in a larger country. “There are very few of us. There are only 1,500 of us in Norway, so if we are the ones who have to fight against all hate speech and delusions, it will take a very long time.”

Both recognise the tendency of Jews to hide their identity. “I was raised to be very discreet as a Jew”, Kristoffersen tells, “not necessarily wear a Star of David or tell strangers I'm Jewish, because then I've heard you get beaten up. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I understand that parents don't want to send their children with a Star of David to a school with swastikas on the walls.”



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