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Friday, September 24, 2021

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Annual reading of the Passover Psalms

Finnur Thorlacius Eiríksson writes

The annual reading of the Passover hymns on Ríkisútvarpið began last week and will be they read all the same until Easter. This tradition has been around since the year 075. As much as I like the Icelandic language and culture, I am completely opposed to this tradition. The Passover hymns may be well written, but that does not change the fact that they are full of great anti-Semitism.

Ríkisútvarpið has received a number of suggestions through the time of the hurtful approach of the hymns, including from the founding of Simon Wiesenthal, but those suggestions have so far fallen on rocky ground.

A certain part of the population seems to interpret all encouragement to stop performing the hymns as an execution of Icelandic culture. It does not seem to matter much that the hymns seriously affect a minority group that has been under attack in many parts of the world for over two millennia, partly because of discourses of exactly the same kind as those found in the hymns.

In this context, I would like to encourage readers to carefully consider the following excerpts and ask themselves what message they have on the radio of all Icelanders:

“The wicked Jews did not trust in his words.”

“He wanted to destroy the evil Jews with such respect.”

“The fury of the Jews was bitter, the blindness of the heart and the error of the heart.”

“Naked Jesus on the ground of Judah crucified with his fierce fury.”

These are just some of the many examples of anti-Semitism in The Passover Psalms. The examples are of such a nature that it is difficult to understand how their annual reading can be justified by reference to historical context and cultural value.

Would really be so great miss reading the Passover psalms on state radio? It can hardly be said that there is a shortage of great Icelandic literary works that could be transferred in their place. Our Icelandic national culture must stand on a more solid foundation than it can stand and fall with the reading of the Passover Psalms.

The author writes on behalf of MIFF (With Israel for Peace) in Iceland.

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