Israel: Norwegian ambassador justifies “Palestinian” terrorism (II)

Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School.

Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law Professor. Image via Wikipedia

This is an excerpt from a very interesting article written by Alan Dershowitz for Hudson review, about the views expressed by Norwegian ambassador to Israel, Svein Sevje

First of all, terrorism against Israel began well before there was any “occupation”. The first major terrorist attack against Jews who had long lived in Jerusalem and Hebron began in 1929, when the leader of the Palestinian people, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, ordered a religiously-motivated terrorist attack that killed hundreds of religious Jews-many old, some quite young. Terrorism against Jews continued through the 1930s. Once Israel was established as a state, but well before it captured the West Bank, terrorism became the primary means of attacking Israel across the Jordanian, Egyptian and Lebanese borders. If the occupation is the cause of the terror against Israel, what was the cause of all the terror that preceded any occupation?

I was not surprised to hear such ahistorical bigotry from a Norwegian Ambassador. Norway is the most anti-Semitic and anti-Israel country in Europe today. I know, because I experienced both personally during a recent visit and tour of universities. No university would invite me to lecture, unless I promised not to discuss Israel. Norway forbids Jewish ritual slaughter, but not Islamic ritual slaughter. Its political and academic leaders openly make statements that cross the line from anti-Zionism to anti-Semitism, such as when Norway’s former Prime Minister condemned Barak Obama for appointing a Jew as his Chief of Staff. No other European leader would make such a statement and get away with it. In Norway, this bigoted statement was praised, as were similar statements made by a leading academic.

The very camp that was attacked by the lone terrorist was engaged in an orgy of anti-Israel hatred the day before the shooting. Yet I would not ever claim that it was Norway’s anti-Semitism that “caused” the horrible act of terrorism against young Norwegians.

The causes of terrorism are multifaceted but at bottom they have a common cause: namely a belief that violence is the proper response to policies that the terrorists disagree with. The other common cause is that terrorism has often been rewarded.

via Is Terrorism Against Israel Really More Justified Than Terrorism Against Norway? :: Hudson New York.

A day before Breivik’s attack:

The sign in the photo reads: opphev blokkaden av = overcome the blockade of Gaza

The sign in the photo reads: opphev blokkaden av = overcome the blockade of Gaza

I don’t think this justifies any attack against them, but points out the double standard of Norwegian government and political elites: while they support terrorism that kills other people, they condemn the one that attacks them. It would be better if this “we-are-holier-than-thou” attitude would change, because I don’t think it benefits the country at all.

Photo found at Bivouac.


4 comments on “Israel: Norwegian ambassador justifies “Palestinian” terrorism (II)

  1. …and at the same time Dershowitz turns a deaf ear and blind eye when anti-Semitism strikes where its inopportune for him or his career. Shame on him.

    • Claudia says:

      Well, I’m not considering his whole career or his whole ideas. But he actually is right in this one article.
      Or do you think that just linking one of his articles means an absolute endorsement of him? I don’t: that would be ridiculous… 🙄

  2. […] Israel: Norwegian Ambassador justifies “Palestinian terrorism” (II) ( […]

  3. Paul Goldstein says:

    What appears below is my reply to the full Dershowitz article referred to.
    [I should point out, first of all, that the caption to the photograph on this page is very obviously incorrect – the sign being held by these extremely misguided young people clearly reads “SU”, Socialist Youth. This is a totally different (and more radical/extremist) youth political party than the AUF, the youth wing of the Labor Party, who were the victims of the attacks. Also the island in back looks nothing like Utøya.]

    It is so sad to see Alan Dershowitz’s continuing attacks on Norway, in which he leaves behind his usual high standards of fact presentation seen in his other writings (such as those on Israel and American civil liberties). Apparently motivated by a negative personal experience in the country, Mr. Dershowitz spares nothing in his continuing attempts to smear Norway with unjustified charges of extreme anti-Semitism. In his anti-Norway writings, he resorts to the same polemical techniques that he rightly condemns in the rantings of writers who smear Israel – highly selective “cherry-picking” of points, exaggerations and distortions, and omission of any facts that run counter to his desired conclusions.

    I’m an American-born Jew who moved to the Bergen area of Norway 11 years ago, and I’m one of the more active members of the tiny Jewish community on Norway’s west coast. The picture of an extremely anti-Semitic Norway that Mr. Dershowitz presents, based on a single week of visiting the country, is completely at odds with my own personal experiences of over a decade of living as an immigrant Jew in Norway.
    First of all, Mr. Dershowitz’s central thesis is based entirely on a misunderstanding, in which the Norwegian ambassador was misquoted by the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv.

    A letter to the Jerusalem Post by Norwegian deputy foreign minister Espen Barth Eide, clarifying the issue, led to a rare apology by the Jerusalem Post to the people of Norway.

    This paragraph by Eide refutes the heart of the Dershowitz contention: “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 Utøya.”
    This is very different from what Dershowitz claims; he completely misunderstood the thrust of the ambassador’s remarks, as did the newspaper Ma’ariv. But still, it was totally irresponsible of Dershowitz to write such a scathing attack without first making an attempt to verify if the words and intentions of the Norwegian ambassador were correctly reported. The language of diplomacy is often fraught with possibilities for misinterpretation, especially when communication is both interlinguistic and intercultural.

    By any objective criteria it is absurd to claim that European anti-Semitism is strongest in Norway. Anti-Semitic terror attacks have claimed Jewish victims in other areas of Europe, including Paris and London. Neo-Nazis have an increasing presence in Germany and Austria. There are numerous reports of intense anti-Semitism – both harassment and physical attacks – in Malmö, Sweden.
    None of this has been true in Norway.
    Mr. Dershowitz has himself written about the anti-Semitism in Poland. The Simon Weisenthal Center has called special attention to the anti-Semitism in Greece, and has in fact discouraged Jewish tourists from visiting there.
    During my 11 years here I do not recall a single news report of any Jewish person in Norway being the victim of anti-Semitic violence. The same cannot be said about quite a few other countries of Europe.

    From 1985 to 1993 Norway had a Jewish Storting president (equivalent to Speaker of the House), Jo Benkow, whose family escaped the Holocaust by fleeing to Sweden. No Jew has ever climbed to such political heights in the United States.
    Benkow is openly proud of his Jewishness, and has written a book focusing on his Jewish background.
    For the last 15 years Bergen, Norway, has held a moving annual rally against anti-Semitism, attended by hundreds of people. A torchlight procession winds its way through the streets of the old Jewish neighborhood of Møhlenpris, stopping outside each house or building where Jews lived in 1942 at the time of the Nazi roundup. A child reads the names of the victims at each house. I chant a Hebrew memorial prayer at this event, and others give speeches. It is noteworthy to add that this rally against anti-Semitism is entirely organized by non-Jews.

    And this is Europe’s most anti-Semitic country?

    I have not encountered anti-Semitic statements by any native Norwegian I’ve personally known. My experience is that most Norwegians are curious about Jews and Judaism in a positive way, and want to learn more about both. I have felt completely comfortable living an openly Jewish life; I feel completely safe, and have never felt anti-Jewish animosity among Norwegians.

    Mr. Dershowitz leaves out a key point when relating his experience with Norwegian universities during his week in the country. The rector of the largest university in Norway, the University of Oslo, explained afterwards that the group sponsoring Dershowitz had given the university only one choice of date, and that single choice was not available. This “rejection” had nothing to do with content.

    The bigoted comment about President Obama appointing a Jew did not come from anyone in the current Norwegian government – it came from an elderly former prime minister of the 1980’s, Kåre Willoch, who is retired from politics, and has been out of power for decades. Willoch has made shameful anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements during his retirement years, but these cannot be construed as statements of the government. The Norwegian media roundly condemned his bigoted comment; there was no support for it that I can recall.
    Mr. Dershowitz claims that Willoch’s statement “was praised”. By whom, I ask? I only recall vigorous condemnation.
    On the day before the shootings, a radical extreme faction within the AUF (the youth wing of the Labor Party) staged a demonstration against the Norwegian foreign minister, who was addressing the group on the island. This radical faction supports a boycott of Israel, but the foreign minister explained firmly that the Norwegian government is unalterably opposed to such an action, and praised Israel’s democratic processes.
    The faction’s demonstration, coupled with purported videos of Gaza flotilla games (which have now been identified as false, having taken place in 2010 with a different group) led to Dershowitz’s hyperbolic phrase “orgy of anti-Israel hatred”.
    Dershowitz makes no mention of the foreign minister’s speech which confirmed Norway’s support for Israel. And his attempt to smear the young people of Norway who now lie dead is ugly indeed.

    Dershowitz reaches across the years to accuse Norway of complicity with the Nazis. This is nothing less than a slap in the face to all the brave Norwegians who risked their lives to help save 2/3 of Norwegian Jewry escape to freedom over the border into neutral Sweden. It is a slap in the face to the many members of the Norwegian Resistance who fought the Nazis bravely for two months before being forced to surrender. It is a slap in the face to the brave fighters of the Norwegian underground who sabotaged Nazi Germany’s efforts to obtain the “heavy water” for the building of atomic weapons. And it is a slap in the face to the postwar Norwegian government, which suspended its revulsion of capital punishment long enough to execute Quisling, the ultimate Nazi collaborator within its midst.
    Mr. Dershowitz seems to be in possession of inside information that some Norwegians have financed terror activities. This is an extremely serious charge, and one that I’m sure would greatly interest the people of Norway, who have no knowledge that such financing has taken place. I would advise him to come forward and publicize his information, with details of persons involved, dates, and the payments made. I could virtually guarantee that any confirmed financing of terror activities, which are completely illegal in Norway, would result in the termination of political careers and very likely criminal prosecutions as well.

    Mr. Dershowitz has brought out his own link of recent activities to the Holocaust, and I bring out mine: The incredible bravery of the Norwegian fishermen and boatmen who risked their lives to save dozens of young people on the island of Utøya while the shooting was in progress remind me of the bravery of Norwegians who helped two-thirds of Norway’s Jews flee to safety in Sweden.
    This is the true Norwegian spirit.

    Some of the same teenagers who Mr. Dershowitz claims were full of hatred were desperately fleeing for their lives in the water. When rescue boats came along with limited space, while the shooting was still in progress, some kids asked that their friends be taken to safety first, saying that their friends were in worse shape than they were. Some kids jumped on top of their friends on the ground, to make sure their friends would be saved from the bullets. One 18-year-old boy picked up his friend who had been shot four times, and ran with her, holding her in his arms.
    This is the true Norwegian spirit.
    How Norwegians have responded to the tragedy is also exemplary: Hundreds of thousands have assembled with roses of peace, and pictures of hearts. There have been no cries of revenge – that is not the Norwegian way. Instead, Norwegians have responded to hatred and terror with peace and love (including reaching out to comfort the parents of the terrorist). That is the Norwegian way.
    Mr. Dershowitz concludes his invective by urging Norway to engage in “soul searching”. Norway is in fact “soul searching” now, trying to understand the elements of hatred that led the terrorist to commit his monstrous deeds.
    The Jerusalem Post also did some soul searching of its own, and wound up apologizing to the people of Norway for its earlier rush-to-judgement words.
    Mr. Dershowitz should consider the same for his slander of a country and people of such gentleness and peace, and of such courage and spirit.

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