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Israel has lost right to exist

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    Norway up in arms after author asserts Israel has lost right to exist By Assaf Uni, Haaretz Correspondent http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/749493.html An
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 24, 2008
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      Norway up in arms after author asserts
      Israel has lost right to exist
      By Assaf Uni, Haaretz Correspondent
      http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/749493.html


      An article in a leading Norwegian newspaper last weekend lambasted
      Israel and Judaism and said Israel has lost its right to exist in its
      present form.

      Entitled "God's chosen people," the article by author Jostein Gaarder
      in Aftenposten is raising a storm in Norway. Gaarder, author of the
      book "Sophie's World," links the Israel Defense Forces' acts in
      Lebanon to Jewish history and foresees the coming dismantling of the
      state as it exists today, with the Jews becoming refugees.

      In an interview with Haaretz Gaarder said Thursday that he was
      misunderstood. "As John Kennedy declared in Germany 'I am a Berliner'
      ¬ I say now 'I am a Jew,'" he said.
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      The article compares Israel's government, the Afghan Taliban regime
      and South African apartheid, and states, "We no longer recognize the
      State of Israel" and "the State of Israel in its current form is
      history."

      "We call child murderers 'child murderers,' and will never accept
      that they have a divine or historic mandate excusing their outrages,"
      Gaarder writes. "Shame on ethnic cleansing, shame on every terrorist
      strike against civilians, be it carried out by Hamas, Hezbollah or
      the State of Israel!"

      Gaarder repeatedly refers to the role Judaism plays in Israel's
      territorial aspirations, writing, "We don't believe in the notion of
      God's chosen people. We laugh at this nation's fancies and weep over
      its misdeeds."

      He writes, "It is the State of Israel that fails to recognize,
      respect or defer to the internationally lawful Israeli state of 1948.
      Israel wants more; more water and more villages. To obtain this,
      there are those who want, with God's assistance, a final solution to
      the Palestinian problem."

      The article has triggered off thousands of comments and dozens of
      stormy debates in the Norwegian media. It also has sparked off a
      debate about Gaarder's alleged anti-Semitic tendencies and the right
      to criticize Israel.
      The Jewish journalist and music critic Mona Levin spoke out in public
      against Gaarder and said she was shocked by the Norwegian
      government's silence. She blasted the cabinet for not denouncing what
      she described as "the most appalling thing I've read since 'Mein
      Kampf.'"

      "We're dealing with an ignorant man, a hate-filled man who derides
      Judaism," she said in an interview from Oslo. Levin said it was
      unacceptable that a man of such international repute (26 million
      copies of his book have been sold) could attack an entire ethnic
      group and that politicians would remain silent.

      "This is a classic anti-Semitic manifesto, which cannot even disguise
      itself as criticism of Israel," said Professor Dina Porat, head of
      the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-
      Semitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University.
      "The writer does not address the conflict in its contemporary context
      but reaches back thousands of years to assert that the Jewish people
      have traits of cruelty that have remained unchanged and account for
      the current war," she says.

      Porat says that according to the European Union, denying Israel's
      right to exist ¬ arguing that its existence is racist ¬ is an anti-
      Semitic statement. She also finds in Gaarder's text the use of
      classic anti-Semitic symbols, like infanticide.

      "I've been head of the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-
      Semitism for 15 years and it's not every day that I get to read such
      a radical document, in terms of its content and rhetoric," she said.

      Gaarder writes, among other things, "We do not believe that Israel
      mourns 40 killed Lebanese children more than it has lamented for more
      than 3,000 years 40 years in the desert. We note that many Israelis
      celebrate such triumphs like they once cheered the scourges of the
      Lord as 'fitting punishment' for the people of Egypt."

      He writes that the first Zionist terrorists started operating in the
      days of Jesus.

      Speaking to Haaretz on Tuesday, a day before he stopped talking to
      the media, Gaarder said he was misunderstood and emphasized that he
      is a friend of Israel and the Jews.

      "I think what Hezbollah is doing is terrible," he said, adding that
      he supports Israel's right to exist as a national homeland for the
      Jews since 1948.

      Gaarder said he does not question Israel's right to exist, "but not
      as an apartheid state." He said he could understand how his article
      could be interpreted as "anti-Jewish" and admitted that if he were to
      rewrite it, he would change a few things.

      He is aware he has hurt the Jews in Norway, he said, adding that he
      would make sure the article is not translated into other languages.
      However, Gaarder refused to retract publicly his main theme.

      Aftenposten's political editor Harald Stanghelle said he saw no
      problem publishing Gaarder's article.

      "Of course I don't agree with what he says," he said. "But an open
      debate on the issue is better than a covert one.

      "Gaarder's voice is important in the Norwegian discourse and it was
      right to publish the article," he said.

      Meanwhile, the furor over Gaarder's article coincides with a series
      of anti-Semitic incidents in Norway, including the desecration of an
      Oslo Synagogue and cemeteries and the assault and battery of a
      skullcap-wearing youngster.

      Quotes from article were taken from an unofficial translation

      ===

      Norwegian ex-premier counters anti-Semitism accusations, slams Israel
      Haaretz Israel
      http://whtt.org/index.php?news=2&id=2712


      Ex-Norwegian prime minister Kåre Willoch spoke out Thursday against
      Israel and a group of Israeli scholars who earlier this week held a
      symposium in Jerusalem devoted to accusing the Scandinavian countries
      of racism, anti-Semitism and Israel-hatred.

      "It's a traditional deflection tactic aimed at diverting attention
      from the real problem, which is Israel's well-documented and
      incontestable abuse of Palestinians," Willoch, who presided as
      Norway's prime minister in the 1980s, told a Norwegian daily.

      Willoch, a long-time critic of Israel, was reacting to accusations
      leveled at an event hosted on Tuesday by the Jerusalem Center for
      Public Affairs, which, as reported by Haaretz, is described by the
      organizers as "probably Israel's first comprehensive discussion into
      Scandinavia's approach to the Jewish people and state."


      The English-language event attracted approximately 50 listeners,
      including at least five Scandinavian journalists, who later wrote
      about the event.

      "Norway is the most anti-Semitic country in Scandinavia," Dr. Manfred
      Gerstenfeld, a scholar of Western European anti-Semitism from the
      Center said at the symposium.

      Gerstenfeld, a Holocaust survivor who immigrated to Israel many years
      ago from Holland, projected cartoons he had found in Norwegian
      mainstream press over the past few years.

      One cartoon, which appeared in Dagsavisen, the same paper which
      published the ex-premier's reaction, showed an ultra-Orthodox Jew
      engraving "thou shall murder" into an alternative Decalogue. Another
      cartoon from the daily Dagbladet showed Ehud Olmert dressed up as a
      guard at a death camp, smiling and holding a rifle.

      "These cartoons are one of many ugly anti-Semitic phenomena in
      Norway," he said.

      "There is something wrong with a society which is willing to accept
      these Nazi cartoons. With a Jewish population of only 1,300, Norway
      has led the pack in anti-Semitism before, during and after WWII."

      In his reaction, former premier Willoch said: "Anyone who accuses
      Norway of anti-Semitism is closing his eyes and ears." Other
      Norwegian politicians were also quoted in the article in similar
      context.

      Besides Gerstenfeld, the humble-sized event offered two more
      speakers: Zvi Mazel, a former ambassador to Sweden who spoke of
      a "deep-rooted" anti-Semitism in Sweden, and Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the
      U.S.-born director of the Wiesenthal Center in Israel - which co-
      sponsored the event - who addressed Norway and Sweden's failure to
      prosecute Nazi war criminals.

      Earlier this year, the three men contributed to a recently-published
      book entitled "Behind the Humanitarian Mask," which served as the
      kernel for the symposium. The book accuses the Scandinavian countries
      of adhering to a form of "a white supremacist" approach, which views
      non-whites such as the Palestinians as eternal victims and aid-
      recipients who are not responsible for their actions.

      The Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and Danish ambassadors were invited
      to the event but did not come. However, five Scandinavian journalists
      were in attendance to counter some of the allegations.

      "Why is criticism of Israel automatically considered anti-Semitism,"
      Louise Stigsgaard Nissen, Middle East Bureau chief for the Danish
      daily Berlingske Tidende, asked. "Why can't one criticize Israel as
      one criticizes the U.S. without being called an anti-Semite?"

      While Zuroff argued that Israelis generally accept harsh criticism
      when they do not suspect anti-Semitism, Gerstenfeld quoted the
      European Union's definition of anti-Semitism as a double
      standard. "One cannot criticize Israel for things other countries
      also do while refraining from criticizing those countries," he said.

      Another Danish reporter said that by closing Gaza to reporters when
      international organizations speak of a humanitarian crisis there,
      Israel was "inevitably rendering itself suspect in human rights
      violations" and "inviting hostile treatment."

      Each such statement was received by the audience with disapproving
      mumbles, until the guests began to argue aloud with the
      Scandinavians - who argued right back. "It's good to see some action
      around here," one JCPA regular said. "Usually these lectures end with
      a few approving nods and hear-hears."

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