Darkness and evil suggest ignorance and illiteracy, underdeveloped resources, disease and famine, tyrannical governments, and widespread violence. None of these conditions exists in today’s Norway.
How it was possible that a country that calls itself “the peace nation”, the country of Ibsen, Munch, Nobel and Grieg, had to bury close to a hundred youngsters butchered by a demonic madman named Anders Breivik? How it was possible that the island of Utoeya was exposed to such barbarity without any tangible sign of reaction or self-defense?
The answer lies in the dark side of Norway’s utopia, the beautiful landscape and blond-and-white scenario of one of the richest countries in the world per capita. This calm, liberal, peace-loving country of saunas, magnificent scenery, welfare state and smorgasbord has become the paradise of political correctness and anti-war feelings. It’s the country that, according to the Global Peace Index, tops the list of the most “peaceful” places in the world.
Oslo is a founding member of the United Nations and the first UN Secretary General, Trygve Lie, was a Norwegian. The hallucinatory Oslo Accords germinated in faraway fairybook Oslo.
Norway is in the top rank of nations in the number of books printed per capita and it is dedicated to encouraging democracy, responding to climate change and protecting human rights.
Oslo’s quality of life is so high that it has been recognised repeatedly by the United Nations as the best place to live in the world. The United Nations placed Norway at the top of women’s rights and the Norwegians like to exercise their influence through international activism predicated on a collective vision of the global good society.
This ultra-secularized and anti-nationalistic beacon has always been proud of its “lack of prejudice” and for decades it sponsored sex education, health care and freedom of expression. It’s a country that liked to call herself a “moral superpower”, that not only ranked among the world’s handful of richest countries, but also provided the world’s most generous welfare state.
With all this solidarity, why did nobody try to stop the killer, despite the island being crowded with 600 boys and girls in the same age category of the average Israeli who starts military service in the IDF? Is it possible that the Norwegian pacifist and tolerant utopia devitalized its population from the ability to fight back darkness and terrorism?
Only when the police finally got to the island (over 40 minutes after they were called) did the killer surrender.
The answer is deep and hard to measure. Have a look at Norway, many Europeans used to say, listen to their words: we have eradicated wars, nationalism and religion; we do not wage war (in Norway the policemen don’t carry guns); we negotiate; we are the moral country; we all want to make the world a better place.
A comparison can be made with Israel, a country so despised by Oslo’s governments and Norwegian יlites and so similar to Oslo. Not by chance, the only two places in Oslo where the security measures stand out are the Israeli Embassy and the Jewish community buildings.
Yet the Jewish State was recently ranked the 7th-most happy country in the world, just a few positions after Norway. The Israeli citizens live an average of 80 years, just like in placid and wealthy Norway.
Like Norway, Israel has a history of scintillating enlightenment.
Like Norway, Israel has one of the highest production of scientific publications per capita in the world.
Like Norway, Israel is the second in the world for publication of new books.
Like Norway, Israel is the source of medical and scientific discoveries that are helping to change the course of history.
Like Norway, Israel has the highest proportion of university graduates and Ph.D.s in the world, per capita.
Like Norway, Israel is home to about ten Nobel laureates.
But in Israel, a mass terror spree like in Utoeya would have never happened the way it did. At the doors of supermarkets and department stores, theaters and cinemas, schools and synagogues, during the Second Intifada, an Israeli guard always looked through the bags of any suspect person who wanted to enter. Dozens of Israeli bodyguards have been killed or wounded while trying to protect other human beings, an Israeli brand of valor that has nothing to do with the myth-soaked heroism familiar to us from the propaganda of European fascism and communism.
It is not about gargantuan deeds by superhuman champions; it is family- and home-oriented, and rather intimate in tone. It has the face of Haim Smadar, a Tunisian Jew with a kindly smile and a big salt-and-pepper mustache who could have been an ordinary guard in Utoeya. He was adored by the parents of the autistic children at the school where he had been a guard for years. He was good with children, and had five of his own at home, two of them hearing-impaired. It wasn’t easy to make ends meet, so Haim took side jobs to supplement his income, like the one at the supermarket in Jerusalem.
Haim was a humble and quiet man. Life didn’t smile on him; it was hard to raise a deaf son and a daughter with hearing problems. But he was happy. He was killed by a suicide bomber who had the same dark smile of the Norwegian killer.
But Haim Smadar, with his own body, also saved the life of the two hundred Israelis in the supermarket.
So did young Natan Sendaka, an Ethiopian born immigrant, one of seven children. A graduate of Kfar Hanoar Hadati religious youth village near Haifa and a Border Patrol soldier, he jumped on a suicide bomber on a busy Jerusalem street as the terrorist put his hand to his belt. Natan absorbed the shock of the detonation in his lungs. His youth enabled the tissue to regenerate and although limping and scarred, he is full of hope and joy.
David Shapira, young father and army officer on leave, shot the terrorist who was machine gunning the unarmed Merkaz HaRav yeshiva students studying in the library. He ran across the street to the yeshiva when he heard shots, so did another citizen who shot at the murderer from the roof. Eight were killed, but it could have been eighty if not for their valor, had they hid or run away.
That’s the saddest question that separates Europe and Israel: are we today, we Europeans, really ready to consider our citizens more important than ourselves or our families?
The Jewish State created a new kind of citizen-defender as last line of defense. In the tiny island of Utoeya, that symbol of European weakness, nobody tried to save the innocent youngsters.
The world has a lot to learn from the tiny, besieged and boycotted Jewish State.
The Israeli children in wheelchairs, the disfigured victims of every age, the legions of mourners for family members and friends lost in a moment’s horror, the babies who have had their faces burned or their hands rendered useless, the trembling people who go insane and don’t want to live anymore because they are haunted by the sound of the explosion, are a living reminder of what is evil and why a modern democracy must stop it.