Last June, a Norwegian rapper named Kaveh performed at the Haugen Food Festival at St. Hanshaugen in Oslo.
On stage, he asked if there were any of his fellow Muslims in the crowd, and when the audience responded with some applause he wished them “Eid Mubarak.”
He then asked if there were any Christians and received some applause.
Then he asked if there were any Jews, and there was no response. After waiting a beat, he said, “F*** Jews.”
In front of all the families with children enjoying a food festival.
He followed up with words to the effect that we are all God’s children anyway, implying that even Jews are sort of human.
When this was reported to the police, they investigated and decided that “F*** Jews” was not a racist statement. “The way it was said, it falls within the freedom of speech of artists and performing artists to make provocative and satirical statements or the like,” said the police report.
Then, in January, State Attorney Trude Antonsen agreed with the police’s assessment. In her decision to close the case, she wrote that the statement is highly derogatory, offensive, and false, but that it is not affected by the criminal code.
That decision was appealed.
Last week, Attorney General Tor Aksel Busch rejected the appeal on the grounds that “f*** Jews” can be understood as criticism of Israel.
“It seems to be targeting Jews, but it can also be said to be targeting the state of Israel and showing dissatisfaction with its policies,” the Attorney General wrote in his decision.
Needless to say, there was not even the hint of anything about Israel in what Kaveh said. He wrote an apology on Facebook shortly after the incident, saying:
The statement I made was in a context related to one of my most controversial songs “Shamener.”
Before the song I used the opportunity to first congratulate my fellow believers for the end of Ramadan.
Having received feedback from both Muslims and Christians on my question as to whether any of them were present, there was no response to the same question of Jews. In this vacuum, I followed up with a statement that has now been taken out of context. This was meant as irony and I then followed up with “No matter, here we are all God’s children anyway.”
Taken out of context, this appears to be wrong. I’m not a racist and I’m not a Jew hater.
My goal was to mark that we were people from different cultures and religions that were good together, in the same place at the same time.
This apology rings hollow because a week before the show, he tweeted, “How did the Drake get on the front page at GQ be the best dressed man in the world? ASAP ROCKY has 28 times better style. F***ing Jews are so corrupt.” (The tweet was removed since then.)
There is nothing at all about Israel in Kaveh’s remarks. It is clearly nothing but Jew-hatred. Yet the Attorney General chose to defend antisemitic remarks by invoking the “he’s just anti-Zionist” defense.
The Attorney General was also aware of Kaveh’s apology and mentioned it as a mitigating factor in his decision, showing that he was quite aware of the context and that Israel had nothing to do with it.
An attorney for pro-Israel organization MIFF, Jan Benjamin Rødner, is upset.
“It appears that the Attorney General created the connection between Jew and Israel entirely on their own initiative, without any form of support in what was uttered. They found the ambiguity themselves. This creates the impression that this is not anti-Semitism, but only legitimate criticism of the Israeli state’s policy,” said Rødner.
“It is a frightening sign of the times that the Attorney General has chosen to find an inherent ambiguity of this kind,” he added.
The lawyer believes it would have been much better if the Attorney General wrote that “F*** Jews” is not sufficiently serious to be affected by the anti-racist law paragraph §185.
“With the argument he has chosen, he legitimizes the use of such expressions as synonymous with ‘F*** Israel.’ Thus, the stage is set for the spread of the term ‘F*** Jews’ and correspondingly for the resurgence of disdain and hatred against Jews. Not to say that ‘F*** Israel’ is fine, but then it is in any case formulated with a glimpse of political expression.”
In other words, now pretty much any attack on Jews in Norway can be justified as being merely political, and not racist.
“Elder of Ziyon” has been blogging about Israel and the Middle East since 2004. This post was originally published on his website.