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Date: 2019
Abstract: This article presents an analysis of the history of antisemitism in Iceland, a country that has never had a significant population of Jews or any Jews who practise Judaism. Due to their geographical location, Icelanders have always feared isolation and have readily embraced anything new from the outside world, including ideas and attitudes. Unfortunately, antisemitism was one of these new “ideas” that was adopted at the end of the nineteenth century in Iceland, where it made a good supplement to the traditional xenophobia that already existed. Antisemitism in Iceland during the twentieth century was part and parcel of the long process of building a national identity, both before and after the country’s independence in 1944. However, as the country was without Jews of its own, it transferred this newly discovered hatred to those it had already despised for years: Danish merchants and other foreigners. In many cases, it was claimed that Danish and German merchants who had no Jewish roots whatsoever were in fact of Jewish descent. The few real Jews who wound up in Iceland were not spared either. They were rejected and expelled, while a large group of Icelanders looked to Hitler’s Germany with interest.Very few individuals with a Jewish background chose to settle in the country after the Second World War and those who did lived cut off from one another and without any possibility of practising their faith. Since 1967 antisemitism has more frequently been vented in terms of anti-Zionism and hatred towards the State of Israel. Icelanders have always been distant from the wars and reality of Europe, so people engaging in acts of antisemitism in Iceland have not thought about its consequences. But in the globalized twenty-first century, antisemitism in Iceland has grabbed the world’s attention. It stands out as an anomaly in a country that prides itself on its tolerance, its free spirit, and its unequivocal defence of human rights.