Accusations of anti-Semitism in Norway October 5, 2009Posted by Sverre in : Academic matters, International relations, Norwegian politics , trackback
It seems to be a recurring trend to accuse Norway of anti-Semitism and hate against Israel. Lately these criticisms have come from Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman over the decisions to divest Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit from the national pension fund stock portfolio and from the Israeli embassy over a seminar series at the Norwegian university NTNU (if you read Norwegian, here’s a blog post from me, and another on the latter).
It seems there are a great number of people out there with an interest in portraying Norway as a country of Jew-haters who wish to see Israel destroyed. From my experience, that couldn’t be further from the truth. With the obvious exception of both the extreme right and the extreme left, there seems to me like there is very little hate of Jews and Israel in Norway. There is, however, much sympathy for Palestinians and much resentment over the actions of the Israeli state. This should not be confused. Critique of the so-called Operation Cast Lead aka. the Gaza Massacre is not equal to hate of Israel. Support for UN resolutions condemning the separation wall is not anti-Semitism.
It appears like elements within the Israeli government want to keep the conflict level up, possibly to maintain an image of Israel as a victim and weaken Norway’s position as a peace negotiator in the region. This is a bad and dangerous idea. It serves to further isolate Israel from the rest of the world, making it easier to rally domestic support for outrageous policies. The proposal of an academic boycott is equally bad and will only add a new layer of insulation and make the work of internal critics in Israel more difficult.
Dialogue is the key, but good dialogue doesn’t start with accusing your opponents of being evil or confusing well-reasoned critique with hateful attacks.