Appreciation: Righteous Gentile, Kaare Kristiansen, 1920-2005

He quit the Nobel committee to protest awarding a peace prize to Yasser Arafat.

The Jews' best friend in Norway, Kaare Kristiansen, died this month at the age of 85. A veteran of the Christian People's Party (KrF), he was politician, moralist and debater. One of his party's most noted figures, he left his mark over 45 years and will be remembered particularly for his important contribution to the establishment of the Norwegian Social Security system - and for his persistent struggle to defend the Jews and the State of Israel. Kaare Kristiansen was the epitome of a righteous person, someone who does not compromise over his deep-seated conviction of what was right and wrong. This was most obvious when, in 1994, he resigned from the Nobel Committee in protest against its awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to PLO leader Yasser Arafat. Israelis considered him a hero, and he appreciated that very much indeed. In Norway, where Israel is generally seen as the world's most immoral country, Kristiansen's voice rang out clearly and steadily in support of the Jewish minority in the Middle East. As a believing Christian, Kristiansen saw the reestablishment of the State of Israel as clear proof of the fulfillment of God's word, just as the prophets had foretold in the Bible. Over several years he wrote innumerable newspaper articles correcting the serious accusations and charges being leveled at Jews and at Israel. Israel's security concerned him greatly, and in conversations with us he confessed that he found difficulty in understanding what he called "the self-destructive tendency of some Jews." He was totally against the uprooting of Jews from Gaza; it was his last great battle for the Jews. THE FIRST time Kristiansen came to us for dinner, he rang the wrong doorbell in a parallel street. The owner looked at him in surprise and wondered whether he was going to visit "those Jews who live there." "Now everybody knows that you are Jews," Kristiansen joked when he finally found us. "Think," he said wryly, a little later, "that neighbor felt the need to tell me that you are Jews." He shook his head. As a Jew - one of the very few who still dares go about freely in Norway with a kippa on his head - allow me to go on record as saying how much help Kaare Kristiansen was to me. I will miss him, his support, his constructive criticism - and, not least, his unconditional love for us Jews. Kristiansen was undoubtedly one of the most important opponents of anti-Semitism Norway has ever had. We at the Norwegian-Israel Center had the pleasure of his cooperation, and the privilege of his friendship, for many years. We will miss his considerateness and deep understanding of the situation of the Jews both here in Norway and in Israel. It is with great sorrow that we received the news of his passing. We will remember him with gratitude and honor his memory. The writer is director of the Norwegian-Israel Center Against Anti-Semitism, in Oslo.