Paris, 15 May 2021

In a letter to Iceland President, Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson, the Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, expressed outrage at “the spate of antisemitism yesterday in one of Iceland’s most read newspapers and websites, Visir.”

The unacceptable online messages are in the main:

- “The Nazis had no better students than the Israelis. Only the gas ovens are missing...”

- “The Nazis used the same methods as the Jews are using now. Hold people in ghettos to be killed later...”

- “The question is which are worse, the Nazis or the Israelis. That’s the sad fact...”

- “Many rich Jews are influential in American politics and therefore the US supports Israel.”

- “These disgusting Zionist rats must be punished for genocide in international courts. But we know that will not happen.”

- “Israelis call this ‘mowing the lawn’ and its done in the Spring. Kill as many young Palestinian males and teenagers to eradicate possible Hamas members.”

15 May 2021

The letter added, “Mr. President, this is hardly the first time we bring Jew-hatred to the attention of Icelandic political leaders. Here are a few examples:

- In 2020, we wrote to Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, on the Neo-Nazi posters by the Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR), displayed on Yom Kippur, accusing the Jews of ‘cruelty against animals, abuse of women and paedophilia’.

- In the same year, we protested the Icelandic Book Publishers allowing distribution of ‘The Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The Case Against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry’, by Arthur Butz, a vicious antisemite.

- In 2019, we called on Eurovision for the disqualification of Iceland’s pop band ‘Hatari’ (Hate), whose antisemitic incitement contravenes the spirit and rules of the Song Contest.

- In 2015, we issued a travel advisory on Reykjavik, after its City Council voted to boycott Israel.”

Samuels argued, “we understand Iceland’s pride in freedom of expression, but incitement to hate and violence does not fit that value. It rather infringes the freedom and security of all.”

The Centre noted that “the Icelandic Althing, one of the earliest parliaments in history, has provided legislation against hate mongering. Sadly, there seems to be no will for its implementation.”

“Mr. President, our Centre offers an antidote: Iceland’s adoption of the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) Definition of Antisemitism, already a tool for nations (including the EU and Scandinavian countries), municipalities, sport clubs, media, academia, etc.”

The letter recalled, “in addition, Iceland’s commitment at the 2000 Stockholm Conference on Holocaust education was also never apparently implemented, thus accepting expressions of Holocaust denial – such as those on Visir... We call on you to take measures for all Icelandic media outlets to regularly monitor and rapidly remove such hateful incitement forthwith.”

“We also urge you, Mr. President, to cleanse Icelandic antisemitism in the spirit of our late mentor, Simon Wiesenthal, who would declare: ‘What starts with the Jews, never ends with them!’,” concluded Samuels.

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“For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing.” (Simon Wiesenthal, 1908-2005)