New York, NY, January 2, 2009 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed concern about several recent instances of anti-Semitism in Norway, including a nationally broadcast remark by a Norwegian entertainer who made deeply offensive statements about the Holocaust.
On a November 27 program on TV2, the entertainer Otto Jespersen remarked that, "I would like to take the opportunity to remember all the billions of fleas and lice that lost their lives in German gas chambers, without having done anything wrong other than settling on persons of Jewish background."
In a subsequent program, Jespersen tried to make light of the remark, claiming it was made only in jest. But he exacerbated the situation by repeating other classic anti-Semitic canards.
"These new manifestation of anti-Semitism in Norway are disturbing, and their seeping into the mainstream through entertainment and pop culture is clearly unacceptable," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor.
In a letter to Wegger Christian Strommen, the Ambassador of Norway to the United States, ADL noted that it had reached out earlier this year to his government about unspecified expressions of concern the League had received regarding anti-Semitism in Norway.
The recent national broadcast of anti-Semitic sentiments, Mr. Foxman wrote, reinforced those concerns and underscored the need for action.
"We call on your government to make clear that such anti-Semitic hate speech has no place in Norwegian society," Mr. Foxman wrote. "We urge your government to speak out against Jespersen's expressions of anti-Semitism, so it is clear to the Norwegian public that such hate speech is unacceptable."