Norway’s response to the terrorist attacks in Oslo and on Utoeya is more
openness, democracy and tolerance.
However, Norwegians have been shocked
by some of the assertions that have been made about Norway in the aftermath of
This week has been one of mourning as the people killed in
the terrorist attacks in Oslo and on Utoeya are laid to rest. Many of the
injured are still in hospital.
Norwegian society has shown a common,
quiet determination not to let terrorism stop us or change us. Life has
continued. At the same time, the political parties have put their differences
aside for a while, to allow mental and physical wounds to heal. It has been a
time for holding hands, not pointing fingers.
Prime Minister Jens
Stoltenberg has stated that Norway will be recognizable after the terrorist
attacks, that our answer is more democracy, more tolerance and more
The Norwegian people have responded to this call. Hundreds
of thousands have gathered in streets and squares all over the country with a
clear message inspired by the words of one of the survivors: If one man can
create this much evil, just imagine how much love all of us can create
We have been moved by the heartfelt condolences we have
received from around the world. We thank the Israeli political leaders, headed
by President Simon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, for their kind
and comforting words at a very difficult time for our country.
Norwegians, however, have been astonished by assertions recently made in The
by two of its regular columnists, Barry Rubin and Caroline
For example, Barry Rubin wrote on Monday that “...the youth camp
he attacked was engaged in what was essentially... a pro-terrorist
According to Rubin, the camp was “justifying forces that had
committed terrorism against Israel” by advocating an end to the blockade of Gaza
and recognition of a Palestinian state.
Rubin even implicitly blamed
Norway’s Middle East policy for the attacks in Norway. He wrote, “If terrorist
murders by Hamas and Islamists did not stop well-intentioned future leaders of
Norway from considering them heroic underdogs, an evil local man could think his
act of terrorism would gain sympathy and change Europe’s politics.”
was, Rubin claimed, an example of the “Oslo Syndrome” whereby rewarding
terrorists with political gains promotes more terrorism.
Rubin and Glick
have also made much of the supposed statements by Norwegian Ambassador Svein
Sevje to Ma’ariv
, according to which he distinguished between the motivation
behind terrorism in Israel and in Norway. Glick and Rubin are not alone
in doing so. Several other Israeli media have latched on to this as
On this point, of course, it was not Glick or Rubin who was at
fault. The ambassador was incorrectly quoted by Ma’ariv
. He did not compare the
motivation behind different terrorist attacks; he simply tried to answer a
question about whether the terrorist attacks in Norway would change perceptions
of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. He stated that many Norwegians see the
conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territory in the context of the
occupation and religious extremism, and that this view would probably not change
after the events in Oslo and on Utoeya.
There should be no doubt: Norway
has never condoned terrorism. The Norwegian government has always been adamant
that terrorism, regardless of motivation and regardless of where it occurs, is
Our political position is crystal clear. And we
have a proven track record of committing our political, financial and military
resources to peace-building activities around the world, where combating both
terrorism and the causes of terrorism are important
objectives. Furthermore, it cannot be claimed that supporting recognition
of a Palestinian state or an end to the blockade of Gaza is the same as
The suggestion that Norway would condone or promote
terrorism, particularly in the direct aftermath of this terrible attack, is both
incorrect and disappointing.
We will continue to meet statements that we
disagree with in a spirit of democratic tolerance and openness, and we will
continue to defend the right of The Jerusalem Post
and its columnists to hold
different view to ours. But we cannot deny that statements like those I have
referred to have dismayed us, particularly at the present time.
writer is state secretary at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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