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Norway’s Foreign Minister rejects charges his country is anti-Semitic

January 19, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

JERUSALEM (WJC)–Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store, who visited Israel this week, has told the newspaper ‘Haaretz’ that there were forces in Israel that unfairly portrayed Norway as an anti-Semitic country. “There are references to anti-Israel sentiments in the Israeli press. I see part of that as a campaign which is being organized and orchestrated from circles who point out enemies of Israel [in Norway],” Store said.

Last summer, media reported that a Norwegian diplomat who had compared Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza with the Holocaust had been promoted, and that Norway had honored the novelist and Hitler admirer Knut Hamsun with celebrations and a commemorative coin on his 150th birthday.

Ahead of Store’s visit this week, a ‘Jerusalem Post’ columnist had described the current Norwegian government as “rabidly hostile” toward Israel, and a Norwegian opposition leader said that Israeli concerns about Norway were “understandable.”

Store said these incidents were not representative. “When I read these allegations in the Israeli press – and some of them I find almost a smear against Norway – my response is: Go and check with the leaders of the Norwegian Jewish community. You will get a [different] story. Yes, there is this gruesome phenomenon of anti-Semitism, also in our society. But I don’t buy it at all that Norway is one of the worst cases.”

Rejecting criticism over his contribution to the back cover of a controversial book on the Gaza war by Norwegian medics, Store said he merely applauded the authors for speaking up about what they saw, without judging the validity of their conclusions. In the book, which contains eyewitness testimony by two Norwegian doctors in Gaza, the authors Mads Gilbert and Erik Fosse accused Israel of perpetrating a “systematically implemented and comprehensive massacre.”

“What I said was that during the Gaza war, all independent press was closed out and that when there is no coverage, the first victim is the truth,” Store told ‘Haaretz’, adding: “I believe that these doctors reported what they saw. I believe that was important.” His comment for the book’s cover did not mean that he endorsed the book’s content, Store emphasized.

Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

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