The Board of Deputies has condemned Norway’s public broadcaster NRK after it defended a cartoon in which a Scrabble player forms the word “Jewish swine.”
The video, posted online earlier this month by the state-owned NRK network, is titled “Scrabble” and was captioned “tag a Jew” on the Facebook page of the animators who created it, Norske Grønnsaker.
In it, a grey-haired man wearing a yarmulke and dressed like a haredi Jew is playing Scrabble with a younger man in shorts. The Jew is frustrated over how long his opponent is taking to construct a word. The camera switches to the young man’s point of view to reveal that he’s constructed the word “Jew swine” (one word in Norwegian) but has not revealed it yet.
The young man sighs in frustration as the Jewish player taunts him over his Scrabble skills. “We are clearly on different cognitive levels,” the Jew exclaims.
The cartoon’s airing by NRK, which has long been said to espouse a left-wing editorial line, evoked unusual support and praise by far-right figures, including the antisemitic Holocaust denier Hans Jørgen Lysglimt Johansen.
Ivar Staurseth, a journalist for the Minerva newspaper, on Facebook suggested the video was antisemitic. ”It’s not for nothing that suffix ‘swine’ doesn’t appear together with other groups/minorities,” he wrote.
NRK Entertainment editor Charlo Halvorsen rejected the allegation, telling Aftenpost Wednesday: “The Scrabble player made an indecent and indefensible word that we can’t and shouldn’t use. But he’s tempted to win.”
Board of Deputies Senior Vice President Sheila Gewolb said: “Antisemitism and antisemitic tropes need to be called out wherever they appear.
“It is appalling and deeply offensive for Jewish people to see Norway’s state broadcaster NRK air a ‘Jewish swine’ cartoon.
“NRK needs to take down the cartoon and immediately apologise.”
While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.
That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.
We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.
Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”