The President of Israel, Mr. Shimon Peres’ critical comments on the current Norwegian government’s reluctancy to follow EU, UN and USA in denouncing Hamas as a terrorist movement, are timely remarks. If one adds Harvard professor Alan M. Dershowitz article in the Wall Street Journal March 30, it all makes me ashamed to be Norwegian. Under the title “Jews are not welcome in Norway,” Mr. Dershowitz told of his encounters with anti-Semitic Norwegian academics who made it clear that he was unwanted as a guest lecturer at Norwegian universities. This is how Norwegian intellectuals treat one the West’s most famous defense lawyers and an internationally renowned Harvard University professor. This is anti-Semitism with a new European face: Anti-Israelism.
I met Dershowitz in March during Oslo Symposium 2011. His description of the obvious anti-Semitism and the lack of willingness to be objective that characterizes Norwegian academia, is flat out shocking. During my opening lecture at the same Symposium Conference, I pointed out that the lack of nuances that characterizes the Norwegian understanding of the realities in Israel and the Middle East are not only shameless, but historically inacurate. For culturally we have much more in common with the Jewish people than one would think. Western civilizational values has its cradle in the Greek and Roman contributions, but also, and especially when it comes to values, in the Hebrew-Christian contribution. The European humanistic view of the dignity of human beings regardless of rank, class or ethnicity carries deep impact from Judaism. These values are at the core of what it means to belong to Western Civilization.
But today, Norwegians reach far beyond the question of Palestine, and instead of supporting the only real democracy in the Middle East, namely Israel, we blackmail the Israelis in a manner as though we were still in 1939 at the time the socialist Hitler “zieg heil ” was shouted in Norway. For the Nazis were Left Wing, and came out of Germany’s Socialist Labour Party, they were not right-wing. The individuals in the Norwegian politically powerful positions that have pushed for these solely negative attitudes for so many years, are responsible for creating a politically-correct hatred towards Israel that has made Norway the most anti-Semitic country in the West. Norway’s largest newspaper VG recently showed a survey on what the Norwegian people think of the largest TV station, NRKs chronically negative covering of Israel. The question was whether the people feel that the coverage is done in an objective manner or not. 60% believed that the recent complaint by the Israeli embassy in Oslo is right in that the coverage is constantly negative towards Israel and highly biased. The current Radical Leftwing government, voiced by people like Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr-Store’s embracing of the Hamas, thus does not reflect the feelings of ordinary Norwegians who support a higher level of justice towards Israel. Prior to the Oslo Agreement, Fatah’s Yasir Arafat was required to denounce terrorism. Today, the Radical Norwegian governments silently accept Hamas’ wish for ethnic cleansing of the Jewish minority, and pose no major remarks. Anti-Israelistic actions like these are unprecedented in modern Norwegian History. The French philosopher Bernard Henri-Lévy has strongly criticized the European Left for its flirt with the totalitarian islamist movement, which values, for example the desire for ethnic cleansing, clashes with core Western ideals like human rights, the concept of tolerance and democracy. His point is that the Left’s ongoing sympathy with the weak and feeble in society, clouds their minds and creates an atmosphere where they make the crucial mistake of supporting the anti-Americanism, anti-Israelism and bottom line, anti-Westernism that these groups carry.
When the democratic right to free thinking is restricted, and only one part of the story is told, democracy alters shape and turns into a totalitarian system of speech control. Today Norwegian media tells of Jews who hardly dare walk the streets of Oslo without fear of being spat on, – and not from Muslims but of ethnic Norwegian misguided people who think they do the truth a service by bullying fellow human beings. Deep injustice lie in the fact that leading Radical Leftist opinionmakers in the Norwegian system have decided NOT to contribute to increased knowledge of international relations, but only reflect the politically-correct Leftwing dictate. During Soviet times this was called propaganda.
Foreign Minister Store ongoing articles in international newspapers in defense of Hamas, reflects this naiveté which eventually becomes so great that one should be promoting suspicion of deliberate malice. His International Harald Tribune article February 15 is a disgrace. There is good reason to understand why parts of the Labour Party would rather have him as Minister of Health. Then one could at least have stopped the harm this man is doing when it comes to degrading Norway’s international reputation. For Mr. Store is internationally ridiculing his own country by acting as a self-styled Hamas activist. He was recently caught lying in a live TV2 show, denying his continuous political talks with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. He only changed his story when the reporter told him Mr. Meshaal had spoken about his conversations with Mr. Store.
Because of the lack of political will to present both sides of the story, Norwegians are denied objective information that could have contributed to public knowledge of the international situation. The same happened in Iran in 1979 when the Marxists and other supporters of the naive dreams of the effects of armed revolutions “of the people”, hailed Khomeini. The Shah of Persia was overthrown and many Marxists shed tears of joy because the Iranian people now had their revolution. Today many also cry, but for quite other reasons.
The Norwegian media’s uncritical celebration of the angry young men on Tahrir-Square during the recent revolution in Egypt, is a similar example. It was remarkably quickly forgotten that President Mubarak at the last election had more than 80% of the population behind him. During his years in power, he enabled Egypt to become Africa’s fastest growing economy and one of the Middle East’s most expansive, secular and stable country, rated as a middle income country by the UN, with a national income per. capita increased by 40% from 2004 up till today. In recent years, Mubarak succeeded in bringing one million out of poverty and into a middle class, an accomplishment that further pushed economic growth.
Many questions can be asked when it comes to the situation in the Middle East, including Egypt. It is well known that the country has struggled with corruption, poverty and lack of religious freedom. Nevertheless, the conservative philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville observed that when the so-called dictators over time have made conditions better for their people, that is when revolutions come that often make things worse again.
The lack of will to promote and highlight various aspects of what is really happening in Israel as well as in numerous other international issues, is thus one of the reasons why many Norwegians now stand together and push for a new course in Norwegian politics. We want an end to the propaganda and to the misleading image which continually is portrayed of Israel. We want justice.
By: Hanne Nabintu Herland, Norwegian academic, historian of religions and bestselling author