(By Dr. Michal Rachel Suissa)
Israel is one of the most visited countries on earth. There is hardly a politician of importance who is not planning an official visit to Israel as an important step in their careers. It is likewise amazing how many of Israel’s enemies seem to believe that a visit to a local synagogue grants them absolution from their anti-Israel sins. Despite the fact that most of them are secular, they apparently have an irresistible need to make a public confession which they think will cleanse their souls and poise them for new rounds of "legitimate critique of Israel." But a polite and media covered reception at a synagogue is still not accepted as a basis for absolution, neither by the Pope nor by the Jews.
The Norwegian foreigner minister Jonas Gahr Støre who visited a synagogue in Oslo the other week just before taking off to Jerusalem, is a man with a record in the Middle East. Not only was he the first, and only, foreign policy leader from the civilized world to recognize and grant financial support to the Hamas regime in Gaza, but he was also the only representative of a civilized country to remain seated during the Durban II conference last year when his western colleagues left the conference hall during Ahmadinejad''s speech.
There are two ways of interpreting his behaviour in Durban: Either the opinions of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad corresponded to his own, or he simply did not understand that in Durban the important matter was not what was said from the rostrum, but who would give it their consent by staying put. Mr. Gahr Støre did just that, and my suspicion is that he understood very clearly how his behaviour would be viewed both in and outside the Middle East.
After recently having upgraded the Palestinian envoy to his Government to the rank of Ambassador, he declared the other day that he intends to wait a little before he recognizes a Palestinian state. He still believes that his Government has an important role to play in the peace process, a role which would be forfeited by a symbolic recognition of a Palestinian state. After all, he realizes that the "Head of State" in "Palestine" would be the self appointed leader of a group of terrorists. He nevertheless plays along with the PLO, probably with a conviction that that his role as a major financial donor to the Palestinian Authorities gives him a position hard to reject, even by the Israeli government. I hope that one day he will be told that his extensive funding of political incitement and propaganda by Palestinian Authority organizations as well as by Israeli NGOs, may not be conducive for peace in the Middle East.
Mr. Gahr Støre obviously feels at liberty to ride both horses: A major funder of one of the most corrupt terrorist organizations in the Middle East, and a benefactor who recognizes humanitarian values by appearing in a synagogue, wearing a kippa, prior to visiting his skeptical counterpart in Jerusalem. His behaviour is remeniscent ofa homage to the sanctity of life coming from a fox just back from a trip to the hen house.
We all remember the pictures of the same Mr. Støre visiting Hebron a couple of years ago when he refused to meet the city’s Jewish residents, ostentatiously discriminating against them by choosing to listen only to the Arabs. He even refused to honor the Jews who were massacred by Arabs on a Sabbath evening in 1929, making the city "judenrein" for the first time since our father Abraham bought the Machpela area some 3,800 years ago. Instead, he chose to support the decendants of the ones who commited the murders. Surrounded by them, he stood in the second most holy city to Jews and supported the aggressor''s demands for a "judenrein" Hebron, Judea and Samaria and the establishment of an Arab state on Jewish holy sites.
Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, of the Labor Party, has on various occasions suggested that Jews in Israel are racists who do not really want peace, and these Jews who force Arabs to leave “their land” are actually responsible for Arab terrorism. He has even blamed the Jews for the internal struggle between Fatah and Hamas. In February 2009, Støre declared that Israeli forces intentionally attacked civilian targets in Gaza as a part of this strategy. Documented statements like these explain why some people in Norway believe Jews are evil and inhuman creatures.
Foreign Minister Støre has demonstrated an incredible ability to change appearance according to need. Not only does this West End millionaire careerist convince voters that he is a social democrat, but now he is even trying to fool the Jews by dressing up in a kippa in a synagogue prior to his visit to Israel. His policies make it difficult to determine exactly where hypocrisy ends and bigotry starts. I believe most of his views are borderline cases.
Dr. Michal Rachel Suissa is a Jewish Berber refugee from Morocco, working as associate professor in medicinal chemistry at University College of Oslo. She regularly lectures and has written many articles on different aspects that affect minorities in the Middle East, human rights in the Muslim world, and the use of religion as a weapon against Jews and minorities. She is the director of the Center against Anti-Semitism, and the editor of the quarterly magazine ‘SMA-Info on Israel and Anti-Semitism’, which today has 10,000 subscribers.