By now many of you have probably heard that Bobby Fischer has been granted citizenship by the government of Iceland and should be well on his way there. This was accomplished through a special act of the Icelandic parliament, sponsored by a Mr. Saemundur Palsson, who have the following comment to the press, “I hope that he will stop cursing the Americans now. It has gotten him into so much trouble.” Unfortunately, Mr. Fischer was not quite so sensible. The NYT quotes him as saying, “This was not an arrest, it was a kidnapping cooked up by Bush and Koizumi. They are war criminals – they should both be hung.”
Bobby Fischer is of course the former world chess champion, on the run from US authorities for playing a chess match in a country which no longer exists in violation of economic sanctions. Despite actually being Jewish, he became a rabid anti-Semite and after years of hiding resurfaced as a caller to radio programs in Iceland and the Phillipines ranting about how fantastic it was that the World Trade Center had been destroyed and calling for the extermination of the Jew-infested US Empire (his sentiment of course, not mine).
More information on Bobby Fischer, as well as links to recordings of some of his insane radio interviews can be found here.
Considering how his bizarre anti-Semitism, I was curious how this attitude might fit into the general perception of Jews in Iceland, and after a little research found this article, which is very likely the best word on the topic on the entire Internet. I would like to quote from the conclusion:
However, one cannot say that Iceland was a case of “antisemitism without Jews”. Iceland’s antisemitism first appeared concerning the Bolshevik connection, but only in small measures. It was not until the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Germany that Icelandic antisemitism became transparent. The anti-communism elements in Iceland, most notably the newspapers Morgunblaðið and Vísir, showed considerable antisemitism, especially when the persecutions in Germany became more visible. After the Kristallnacht the existing support for Germany decreased, and vanished almost completely after the Russo-German pact of 1939. Consequently, criticism of the German antisemitism inflated and antisemitic remarks receded.
Iceland’s Jewish policy was in most ways similar to these of other Nordic countries. However, what differed was Hermann Jónasson’s lack of flexibility while, on the other hand, other Nordic governments allowed proportionally more Jewish immigration on humanitarian grounds. On the total, it seems that Iceland took much less part in the rescue of German Jewry than most, if not all, European countries, contrary to Jónasson’s statement of the opposite. Although the general Icelander was usually friendly and compassionate towards the Jewish refugees, the Government showed a totally different attitude.
Anyone interested should read the entire paper.