In the wake of Anders Breivik’s massacre of his fellow Norwegians, I was amazed
at the speed with which the leftist media throughout the US and Europe used his
crime as a means of criminalizing their ideological opponents on the Right. Just
hours after Breivik’s identity was reported, leftist media outlets and blogs
were filled with attempts to blame Breivik’s crime on conservative public
intellectuals whose ideas he cited in a 1,500 page online manifesto.
revulsion at this bald attempt to use Breivik’s crime to attack freedom of
speech propelled me to write my July 29 column, “Breivik and totalitarian
While the focus of my column was the Left’s attempt to
silence their conservative opponents, I also noted that widespread popular
support for Palestinian terrorists in Norway indicates that for many Norwegians,
opposition to terrorism is less than comprehensive.
To support this
position, I quoted an interview in Maariv with Norway’s Ambassador to Israel
Sevje explained that most Norwegians think that the
Palestinians’ opposition to the supposed Israeli “occupation” is justified and
so their lack of sympathy for Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism was
unlikely to change in the wake of Breivik’s attack on Norwegians.
my column was a defense of free speech and a general explanation of why
terrorism is antithetical to the foundations of liberal democracy – regardless
of its ideological motivations – I did not focus my attention on Norwegian
society. I did not discuss Norwegian anti- Semitism or anti-Zionism. Indeed, I
purposely ignored these issues.
But when on Friday, Norway’s Deputy
Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide published an unjustified attack on me on these
pages, he forced me to take the time to study the intellectual and political
climate of hatred towards Israel and Jews that pervades Norwegian
That climate is not a contemporary development.
has been a mainstay of Norwegian society.
In a 2006 report on Jew hatred
in contemporary Norwegian caricatures published by the Jerusalem Center for
Public Affairs, Erez Uriely noted among other things that Norway banned kosher
ritual slaughter in 1929 – three years before a similar ban was instituted in
And whereas the ban on kosher ritual slaughter was lifted
in post-war Germany, it was never abrogated in Norway.
As Uriely noted,
Norway’s prohibition on Jewish ritual slaughter makes Judaism the only religion
that cannot be freely practiced in Norway.
Fascism was deeply popular in
Norway in the 1930s.
In the wake of the Nazi invasion, Norwegian
governmental leaders founded and joined the Norwegian Nazi Party. Apparently,
sympathy for Nazi collaborators is strong today in Norway.
As the JCPA’s
Manfred Gerstenfeld noted in a report on the rise in Norwegian anti-Semitic
attacks during 2009, two years ago the Norwegian government allocated more than
$20 million in public funds to commemorate Norwegian novelist Knut Hamsun on the
occasion of the Nobel laureate for literature’s 150th birthday. As The New York
Times reported, in February 2009, Norway’s Queen Sonja opened the, “year-long,
publicly financed commemoration of Hamsun’s 150th birthday called ‘Hamsun
2009.’” But while Hamsun may have been a good writer, he is better remembered
for being an enthusiastic Nazi. Hamsun gave his Nobel prize to Nazi propaganda
chief Josef Goebbels. During a wartime visit to Germany, Hamsun flew to meet
Adolf Hitler at Hitler’s mountain home in Bavaria.
And in 2009, Norway
built a $20 million museum to honor his achievements.
As Uriely explained
in his report, “Norwegian anti- Semitism does not come from the grassroots but
from the leadership - politicians, organization leaders, church leaders, and
senior journalists. It does not come from Muslims but from the
Despite indignant claims that the two are
unrelated, Norway’s elite anti-Semitism merges seamlessly with their
anti-Zionism. An apparently unwitting example of this fusion is found in Eide’s
attack against me in last Friday’s Post.
Eide’s attack on me revolved
around my citation of Ambassador Sevje’s interview with Maariv. In his column
Eide wrote, “Several other Israeli media have latched on to this [interview] as
While this may be true, I first learned of Sevje’s interview in
the US media. Specifically, I read about the interview at Commentary Magazine’s
website, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s website, and the website of the
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) before I
read the original interview on Maariv’s website.
Commentary, JTA and
CAMERA are not Israeli organizations or outlets. They are Jewish American
organizations and outlets. Eide’s conflation of them with the “Israeli media”
indicates that the deputy minister has a hard time separating Jews from
Israelis, (and by extension, Jew hatred from Israel hatred).
One of the
Jewish Americans who attacked the Norwegian ambassador’s willingness to
distinguish between Palestinian terrorist murderers of Israelis and Breivik’s
terrorist murder of Norwegians was Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz. Dershowitz
said, “I know of no reasonable person who has tried to justify the terrorist
attacks against Norway. Yet there are many Norwegians who not only justify
terrorist attacks against Israel, but praise them, support them, help finance
them and legitimate them.”
In March Dershowitz experienced Norway’s elite
anti- Semitism-qua-anti-Zionism firsthand. Dershowitz was brought to Norway by a
pro-Israel group to conduct lectures at three Norwegian universities. All three
university administrations refused to invite him to speak. Student groups acting
independently of their university administrations in the end invited Dershowitz
to give his lectures.
As Dershowitz explained in a Wall Street Journal
article, he was the victim of an unofficial Norwegian university boycott of
Israeli universities. The unofficial boycott is so extensive that it bans not
only Israeli academics, but non-Israeli, Jewish academics that are
And lest someone believe Norway’s anti-Jewish boycott is due
to the so-called “occupation,” as Dershowitz pointed out, the petition calling
for an academic boycott of Israel begins, “Since 1948 the state of Israel has
occupied Palestinian land.”
The Norwegian elite’s rejection of Israel’s
right to exist, and ban on pro-Israel Jewish speakers from university campuses
goes a long way in explaining Norway’s support for Hamas. If Norway’s opposition
to Israel was merely due to its size, rather than its very existence, it would
be difficult to understand why Norway maintains friendly contact with Hamas.
Hamas is after all a genocidal, terrorist group, which like the Nazis seeks the
annihilation of the Jewish people as a whole. Yet Norway’s Foreign Minister
Jonas Gahr Store wrote an article justifying his relations with Hamas as in line
with Norway’s embrace of “dialogue.”
As Store’s deputy Eide’s
unrestrained and unjustified attack against me, and as Norway’s academic – and
to a large degree media – boycott of pro-Israel voices make clear, Norway’s
embrace of dialogue is as selective as its condemnation of
Here we should recall that Norway’s ruling class supported
Hamas against Israel in Operation Cast Lead.
Israel’s dovish Kadima
government only began the operation in Gaza because it had no choice. For months
then prime minister Ehud Olmert sat on his hands as southern Israel was pummeled
with unprovoked barrages of thousands of missiles and rockets from Gaza. Olmert
was forced to take action after Hamas massively escalated its rocket and missile
attacks in November and early December 2008.
While silent about
Palestinian aggression, Norway’s government attacked Israel for defending
itself. As Store put it, “The Israeli ground offensive in Gaza constitutes a
dramatic escalation of the conflict. Norway strongly condemns any form of
warfare that causes severe civilian suffering, and calls on Israel to withdraw
its forces immediately.”
Two of Store’s associates, Eric Fosse and Mads
Gilbert, decamped to Gaza during Cast Lead and set up shop in Shifa Hospital.
The two were fixtures in the Norwegian media, which constantly interviewed them
throughout the conflict, and so spread their libelous charges against the IDF
Fosse and Gilbert never mentioned that Hamas’s high
command was located at the hospital in open breach of the laws of
When they returned home, they co-authored a book in which they
accused the IDF of entering Gaza with the express goal of murdering women and
Store wrote a blurb of endorsement on the book’s back
Store visited Israel in January. During his visit he gave an
interview to the Post where he ignored diplomatic protocol and attacked the
Knesset’s contemporaneous decision to form a parliamentary commission of inquiry
into foreign funding of anti-Zionist Israeli NGOs.
The basic rationale
for the commission was that Israelis have a right to know that many purportedly
Israeli groups are actually foreign organizations staffed by local Israelis. And
many of the most virulently anti-Zionist NGOs staffed by Israelis operating in
Israel are funded by the Norwegian government. Store arrogantly opined, “I think
it is a worrying sign” about the state of Israeli democracy.
Operation Cast Lead, Oslo was the scene of unprecedented anti-Semitic rioting.
According to Eirik Eiglad, protesters who participated in anti-Israel
demonstrations – and even a supposedly pro-peace demonstration – called out
“Kill the Jews” and attacked policemen who tried to prevent them from rioting.
Demonstrators at a pro-Israel demonstration were beaten. The Israeli embassy was
threatened. Pro-Israel politicians who participated in the pro-Israel rally were
beaten and received death threats.
It is a fact that the day before
Breivik’s massacre of teenagers at the Labor Party’s youth camp on Utoya Island,
Store spoke to them about the need to destroy Israel’s security fence. The
campers role-played pro- Hamas activists breaking international law by
challenging Israel’s lawful maritime blockade of the Gaza coastline.
held signs calling for a boycott of Israel.
Despite their obvious
animosity towards Israel and sympathy for genocidal, Jew hating Hamas
terrorists, at no point did I or any of my Jerusalem Post colleagues do anything
other than condemn completely Breivik’s barbaric massacre of his fellow
Norwegians. And yet, the Norwegian government attacked us for merely pointing
out in various ways, that Norway should not use Breivik’s attack as
justification for further weakening Norwegian democracy.
massacre, the Post published a well-argued, empathetic editorial making these
general points. In response, the paper was deluged by unhinged attacks claiming
that the editorial was insensitive and excused Breivik’s crimes. In response,
the Post published a follow-up editorial last Friday apologizing to the
Norwegian people for the earlier editorial.
I was not consulted about
this editorial ahead of time, and the editorial does not reflect my views.
However I understand the moral impulse of not wishing to pour salt on anyone’s
wounds, which stood behind the decision to write it.
For my part, I will
not request a similar apology from the Norwegian government for gratuitously
attacking me. I will not request a similar apology from the Norwegian government
and elites for libelously defaming my military, my country and my people. I will
not request a similar apology from Norway for limiting Jews’ freedom of religion
in Norway. I will not request a similar apology from Norway for comparing Israel
to Nazi Germany and celebrating Norwegian Nazis.
I will not request such
an apology because there are certain actions that are simply
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