Chillingly Emblematic Iceland

This lone windswept island – astride the juncture-point of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans as well as the North American and European tectonic plates – is as far-removed from the Jewish people, the Jewish state and the entire Mideast as can be.

This lone windswept island – astride the juncture-point of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans as well as the North American and European tectonic plates – is as far-removed from the Jewish people, the Jewish state and the entire Mideast as can be.

The boycott which the Reykjavik municipal council declared on all Israeli products (and then clumsily backpedalled therefrom, to include only “occupied-territory” goods) was always meaningless in practical terms. But its meaning was mega-distressing on the moral plane.

Iceland is chillingly emblematic of phenomena greater than its own minuscule role in world affairs.

This lone windswept island – astride the juncture-point of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans as well as the North American and European tectonic plates – is as far-removed from the Jewish people, the Jewish state and the entire Mideast as can be.

Our Israeli travails aren’t only history-steeped but are unimaginably complex. Even savvy observers find it difficult not to generalize and oversimplify. It’s more than doubtful that the remote Icelanders have amassed any outstanding expertise in the annals and twists of our struggle for survival. Odds are they know even less about us than the average smug European.

Not only are Icelanders in all certainty clueless about our complex history, but they’re probably abysmally ignorant about our unique geography. It would be surprising if they can spot our tiny country on the map. It would be altogether ultra-astonishing if they knew that at direct proximity to our densest population centers – at the heart of our tortuous and narrow territory – Israel’s waistline is terrifyingly a mere nine-miles-wide.

Add to this the fact that Israel is the world’s most threatened nation – with the entire Arab/Muslim realm around it vowing to annihilate it – such boundaries become an existential peril. By comparison, it’s worth noting that Iceland is over four times Israel’s size and that with a population of 330,000 that could be easily squeezed into a Tel Aviv suburb like Holon.

It’s OK not to know us or not to want to delve into our predicaments. But it’s quite another matter when those who don’t know also presume to judge us and compound their prejudice with punitive measures.

That takes hubris to a singularly sinister level – one that significantly surpasses galling chutzpah. It transforms into an irrational animosity harking back to the sort of barefaced abhorrence with which the Jewish people have had to contend time and again in one land or another.

There is no point accusing Icelanders of Jew-revulsion because anti-Semitism is so politically incorrect in our postmodern reality that any bigot’s kneejerk inclination is to indignantly deny it. Indeed there has been too little Icelandic contact with Jews to breed particular ill-will. But this is where we encounter the illogical.

Most Jew-haters have no cogent reason for their antagonism. It may be an atavistic enmity going back to church-inspired demonization, which has now imperceptibly or otherwise been pinned on the Jewish state. This empowers anyone anywhere to arrogantly censure us without cause.

Icelanders know nothing of our troubles but feel sanctimoniously authorized to impose sanctions against us. Their claim is that we oppress Palestinians but that’s a transparent trumped-up pretext where malevolent slander expunges the truth. Doubtless, few in Reykjavik can even pretend to back their bias with solid facts rather than rank propaganda.

Theirs is a pretentious pose born of ambition to impress themselves and others with their professed righteousness.

It speaks volumes that a far-flung mini-country like Iceland would feel impelled to gang up on the Jewish state in concert with European powers – those driven by realpolitik cynicism and subliminal needs to ostensibly clean up their blood-stained history of persecution and genocide.

Hate spreads to where plausibly we wouldn’t expect it to sink roots and all for the sake of basking in the supposed aura of enlightenment.

Of course, in real terms the joke was on the Reykjavik city councilors, who may have been unaware of the fact that there are negligible (if any) Israeli exports to their distant jurisdiction, much less exports from the so-called occupied territories.

Icelanders likely are blissfully oblivious to such basics, to say nothing about more intellectually-challenging aspects of our enduring Israeli endeavors to keep ourselves alive in a vast sea teeming with primal hate. Like Iceland, we too are an island – but of a very different sort.

14 thoughts on “Chillingly Emblematic Iceland

  1. Icelanders are nice people. They want world peace and universal respect for human rights.

    Icelanders are so nice that their Reykjavik City council has a tradition of approving the last resolution of an outgoing council member. On September 15, 2015 that council member happen to be some Bjork whose husband heads Iceland-Palestine Association and is on record of supporting Hamas, which nice people of Iceland must know to be a terrorist organization.

    Bjork, being nice Icelanding woman, wanted to shoot some missiles into Israel, but nice city of Reykjavik did not have any. So, she decided on the second best – hit those money-grabbing filthy Jews in the wallet.

    Her resolution passed. But then, suddenly, Jews from all over the world started to cancel their travel to Iceland, and voiced their opposition to investing in this nice country. And turned out, that nice Iceland people don’t care about their high moral standards and love money more than those Jews they had never seen in their lives. And, oy wey, the City council cancelled, changed, or whatever, their resolution.

    This story is a good example how the reverse BDS works on “nice” people.

    Right now the message from Iceland is that they corrected the situation and are open for business. For them this Jewish man says – “Fuck you, you showed your true face, it will take a lot more to convince me that you have learned your lesson”.

    Now, the Internet is full of comments from truly nice Icelanders who say that the City council decision does not represent their views. To them I say – “Sorry, it does, you had elected those people. Now work to fix it”.

  2. Reykjavik … notorious for its greed-driven bankruptcy, sovereign default, alcoholic drinking problem and highest suicide rate. Now with a new addition to the list of infamy; ignorant bigotism and bare-faced hypocrisy.


  4. Scandinavians settled Iceland fairly recently by Jewish standards. Life there has always been pretty tough. Scandinavians also tried to settle Greenland, but they wasted their time and resources building churches and burning witches.

  5. Icelands Antisemitism is EVIL in an abstract form, it’s paradicmatic for ALL Jew hatred.
    NO Jew-hater has ANY reason for his antagonism.
    It’s rooted in the teachings of the New Testament and the teachings of the church which are demonizing the Jews. UNTIL NOW !
    That evil old tradition easily transforms into todays most arrogant self-righteousness and hypocrisy.

  6. Sarah, the posted comments say what needs to be said. My comment is my love and respect for your brilliance and marvelous ability to ferret out obscure events in history, and how well you do this. You excel!. I have “Another Tack” stories about two inches thick in my collection. Thank you so much. You are a Brooklyn treasure.

  7. I was a Catholic school first grader when my young Jewish neighbor in Elizabeth, NJ announced, yes, he announced in late spring 1948, “We have our own country now called Israel”. I never forgot how Arnold Eiser beamed, he was so happy. I was happy too, and I have supported Israel and all of the Jewish diaspora for all 67 years. I tried to make Aaliyah but was rejected because I am Slovak Catholic. No matter & no hurt feelings. I’ll always support Israel.

  8. Bjork Vilhelmsdottir, who drove the resolution through Reykjavik City Council, is currently in Judea volunteering with some sort of “solidarity” organization.

    Make no mistake – she has already done some damage to Jewish people. She should be apprehended and deported.

  9. When I heard of the Icelandic backpedaling in the mainstream media, thoughts very similar to those expressed in this article went through my head. I wonder if the need to change the wording of the motion which in essence advocated ‘kauft nicht bei Israelis” to one that specified West Bank products was viewed as anything other than an embarrassing typo, with the real magnitude being lost on Reykjavik councillors. Evidently they want to be on the bandwagon with the cool kids, despite not understanding what the bandwagon really is. Indeed, taking into consideration that it is highly unlikely that one would find any Israeli products on a Reykjavik shelf it truly is chillingly emblematic, as Sarah so succinctly put it.

  10. I know something of Icelandic culture and am half Icelandic by descent. Icelanders left Norway over 1000 years ago, fleeing an overbearing king. Until the late 19th century, Iceland had been isolated, living a bare existence out of fishing and farming.

    Now Icelanders are getting bored with just being icelanders, and while the world has not embraced them, they have embraced the world. Some Icelanders have married foreigners. There is a small Muslim community in Iceland.

    There is a political divide in Iceland, highly correlated with gender. Men tend toward an approximation of Republicans and libertarians, while women tend to be leftist. When men were in charge, politically, their view was that Friedman-esque freedom calls for little or no banking regulation.

    Icelanders, particularly men, are known to be risk-takers, starting with the move from Norway and now expressed in dangerous fishing, and consumption of alcohol. Many took advantage when the world economy bubble was expanding, and speculated wildly.

    Icelanders wisely choose to not put government on the hook to pay for the resultant losses in banking and other paper fields. They also blamed men for economic fallout and elected a female socialist lesbian as president.

    This resolution says more about the left than icelandic culture. Although i must admit, icelanders tend to be Lutherans, and Martin Luther didn’t like Jews. In fact he was quite emphatic on the subject. While Icelanders tend to be secular, like most modern Europeans, they are still culturally Lutheran.

  11. Most modern Europeans are culturally Christian, not necessarily Lutheran.

    Now to practical matters: how to deal with boycotts.This was a city council resolution with no legal impact on Iceland-Israel trade. But still, other european countries are moving toward a quasi-boycott of Israeli goods.

    –Sanction every politician who votes for a boycott of Israel. Deny them entry to Israel and sue them personally in any possible jurisdiction.

    –Engage in cyber-war against hostile governments and cooperating businesses.

    –Conduct a war of words and images, directed toward citizens of boycotting countries. Encourage dissidents and build up the image of Israel.

    –Counter-boycott offending countries, specifically denying them high-tech products such as Israeli-made medical devices; prevent purchase of such goods through intermediaries.

    –Get around patents held by boycotting countries. Challenge patents in court. Semi-copy patents by changing design slightly

  12. Good comments by SANYCH. Your second one goes to the heart of the matter. You write:

    “Bjork Vilhelmsdottir, who drove the resolution through Reykjavik City Council, is currently in Judea volunteering with some sort of “solidarity” organization. Make no mistake – she has already done some damage to Jewish people. She should be apprehended and deported.”

    Indeed. That raises some important questions. Such as:

    1) Why does the Israeli government allow these people to operate freely in Israel. Not only BDSrs, but staff from a particular “friendly” consulate in Jerusalem whose activism has been characterized by some people as tantamount to subversion.

    Why haven’t BDSrs who operate in Israel not been charged with subversion and hate crimes?

    A Jewish woman was arrested for calling Mohammad a pig, but those who routinely insult and assault Jews in Israel can do it with complete impunity.

    2) VERY IMPORTANT: Why hasn’t the government EVER presented all the LEGAL and historical evidence supporting Israel’s ownership of the “West Bank”?

    As far as I know the Israeli government is still calling for Two States for two peoples – thereby implying that the Arab conqueror has a right to the land – and treating many Jewish residents in Judea and Samaria as occupiers who could be expelled at the government’s will.

    3) Why hasn’t the Israeli government denounced some PA official statements as HATE SPEECH, and Arab rioting at Temple Mount and elsewhere as subversion and anti-Semitism, and charged them with a long list of crimes that would not be tolerated anywhere else in the western world?

    It’s not enough to criticize anti-Semitic Europe without denouncing those who incite against Jews and victimize Jews INSIDE ISRAEL.

  13. One wonders how many Icelanders, if they could be educated about Israel, would modify their nasty inclinations towards Jews and Israel. Some, perhaps. So, says Sarah, Icelandic Jew hatred is the result of geographic isolation, their incredible self-centered arrogance, and their equally incredible swallowing whole, without question the mainstream European Union hostile narrative towards Jews. The average Icelanders attitude says, “I don’t have to know anything about Jews or Israel.Nor do I need to.” And I believe that one of the readers above said something about the Lutheran church being the main religious establishment on the island. Lutherans are, in general, notoriously anti-Israel, and worse.
    Some years ago, at a high school that I taught at, I encountered a young man from Iceland. He was very detached, uncommunicative, and abrupt towards most everyone. I had the sense that, just below the surface, he was very angry at something–an accurate reflection of Sarah’s descriptions. However, Sarah also points out that Iceland is at the juncture of the North American and European tectonic plates. Simon Winchester comments on that, in his book, “A Crack in the edge of the World,” when he discusses the origins of earthquakes. It may be that in years to come, Iceland might suffer a swift and cataclysmic fate. I don’t wish that on them; but by their attitude, they are their own worst enemy. As Sarah says, they are on an island of a certain kind.

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