About three years ago, I was asked by Roskilde University near Copenhagen to serve as an external member on a committee examining a dissertation about the relationship between the American Jewry and the settlers.
I was surprised by the request, wondering who in Denmark engaged in such an issue. It turned out that the dissertation was written by a young Danish Jew who had spent a research period of several months in Judea and Samaria.
After I submitted my remarks and amendments were made, I was invited to Copenhagen to the dissertation "defense" ceremony. The event, which was held in a large auditorium, had many participants. I sat on the stage alongside two panel members from Denmark, and each member was given about 30 minutes to speak to the doctoral candidate and ask questions. I was the last one to speak.
The academic event quickly turned into a show of condemnation against the Israeli "colonialism." One of the panel members, a sociologist, an "expert on violence," presented innovative theories about the "wrongs of the occupation" and the "gender abuse," while showing complete ignorance about the Israeli-Arab conflict. Part of the conversation focused on the "destructive power" of America's Jewish lobby.
Even before the event, I was implicitly informed that the defense ceremony was a "performance," a sort of show followed by the presentation of the PhD. When my turn arrived, I began by saying that "as far as I am concerned, we are in a test rather than in a ceremonial ritual." It was clear from my comment that the candidate did not hold a doctorate yet and that anything could happen.
The atmosphere in the auditorium changed immediately. A lot of tension replaced the festive feeling. In the half hour I was given, I asked difficult questions about the research methodology and findings. I made things difficult for the writer when I asked him if had attempted to satisfy an anti-Israel spirit in the Danish academia through his dissertation. The pressure in the room increased when I said that the politicization in the other panel members' questions was too blatant and caused damage to the doctoral candidate. Eventually the panel members decided to make changes and amendments.
In the evening I was invited to dinner by the doctoral candidate's family. A warm Jewish family, some of them Holocaust survivors. The Danish infrastructure minister, a friend of the family, was also invited. A lively conversation developed on the climate threats and his country's huge environmental budget. We also spoke about the Danish society's cultural challenges in the face of the immigration waves from Muslim countries.
At a certain stage we spoke about our children. When I said that my son was in the army, the wife's minister asked: "And you allow it?" Of course, I replied. It's part of our life in Israel. I added that I was very proud of my son, who grew up in the United States, for choosing to come to Israel and serve in the IDF.
The tone immediately changed, and a heated argument developed over the "Israeli oppression policy." the Danish minister said some harsh words about the "chauvinistic nationalism" in Israel, and about the Israeli violence and injustice towards the Palestinians and about the destruction of the Israeli democracy. He even noted that Israel's policy was affecting the security of Denmark's Jews and said it could lead to anti-Semitism against them.
I protested the criticism and talked about the Danes' failure to understand the threats in our region. I also mentioned Danish nationalism, which is trying to curb the Muslim immigration. When the argument crossed the borders of Scandinavian tolerance, I asked to call a taxi and left.
That night, I felt distressed. Could it be that I overreacted? How is it possible that even in Copenhagen, I couldn't get away from home?
But in the morning, on my way to the airport, I understood that we must not keep quiet in light of ignorance, blindness and political correctness. I asked myself: Why is Denmark, which is experiencing an internal Islamist threat, diverting the discussion towards the "Israeli occupation"?
In November 2012, Israeli Ambassador to Denmark Arthur Avnon warned that Jews in Copenhagen must be cautious: "Not to speak Hebrew loudly or demonstrably wear Star of David jewelry and to wait to don their skullcaps until they enter the synagogue."
The recent terror offensive in the Danish capital may open up the eyes of those who have yet to realize: Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.