Norwegian envoy equates Israel with Nazis

Oslo-based anti-Semitism watchdog demands gov't apology after diplomat makes comparison in e-mail.

By ETGAR LEFKOVITS
January 21, 2009 01:44
2 minute read.
Norwegian envoy equates Israel with Nazis

gaza holocaust 248.88. (photo credit: )

 
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A Norwegian diplomat based in Saudi Arabia has sent out e-mails from her Foreign Ministry e-mail account equating Israel's offensive against Hamas in Gaza with the systematic mass murder of six million Jews by the Nazis. The e-mail, sent out by Trine Lilleng, a first secretary at the Norwegian Embassy in Riyadh, includes a juxtaposition of black-and-white pictures from the Holocaust with color images of Operation Cast Lead. "The grandchildren of Holocaust survivors from World War II are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by Nazi Germany," the e-mail states. A copy of the e-mail was obtained by The Jerusalem Post. The 40-plus pictures included as attachments in the e-mail include the famous image of a Jewish boy with his hands raised as a German soldier points his gun at him, next to an image of an Israeli soldier aiming his weapon at a Palestinian boy. Another depicts a German soldier firing his weapon, next to an IDF soldier shooting his, while others juxtapose the barbed wire surrounding ghettos and concentration camps to the fence around Gaza, and the West Bank security barrier. The e-mail asks recipients to forward the message to others. Reached on her cellphone in Riyadh, Lilleng told the Post she had sent the message to "a few friends" in a "private e-mail," and had not sent any copy to the Post. She would not say whether it was proper for her to use her ministry e-mail account for such a controversial message. "I am not interested in saying anything about that," she said. The Oslo-based Center Against Anti-Semitism in Norway, which has filed an official complaint with Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, said it was appalled by the distribution of "clearly anti-Semitic propaganda" by a ministry official. "The Center Against Anti-Semitism regrets that Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is thus contributing to the intensification of anti-Semitic tendencies, which lately have been quite visible in the Norwegian media, and which have been reproved by both us and by international experts," the center's director, Erez Uriely, wrote to Støre. The center noted that the Norwegian government, along with other European governments, has sought to play a role as a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as part of an Egyptian-proposed agreement. "We fail to see that the distribution of anti-Semitic pictures is compatible with such a role," the letter states. The center has asked the Norwegian Foreign Ministry to recall the disseminated pictures immediately and to apologize publicly for the incident. The letter was hand-delivered to the ministry in Oslo on Tuesday. "This demonization of both Israel and the Jews must stop," said group spokeswoman Dr. Rachel Suissa. The Norwegian Embassy in Tel Aviv did not immediately respond when asked for comment on Tuesday.

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