Oslo, 2006. Miriam Shomrat, Israel’s Ambassador to Norway, was incensed. And with good reason.
In September that year, a month after Oslo’s Jewish cemetery was vandalised, and just before Rosh Hashanah, three individuals in a passing car (later identified as two Islamists and an accomplice called Kristiansen), fired a volley of 13 shots at the synagogue. The building’s facade was damaged, although luckily no one was hurt.
The attack came shortly after the government of Jens Stoltenberg (who of course has been very much in the public eye this past week, and has visited a mosque to show his solidarity with his country’s Muslims) ruled that security cameras monitoring the approaches to the synagogue in Oslo must be removed.
Likening the attack on the synagogue to terrorism (a court verdict disagreed, by the way, finding merely that “serious vandalism” had occurred), Miriam Shomrat observed, before the perpetrators (who had, it would transpire, planned to bomb the Israeli and American embassies and to kidnap and decapitate her) were discovered:
“We don’t know who’s doing this, whether it’s Norwegians or foreigners. But the fact that there’s been an increase [in attacks] and that it’s happening in Oslo must be taken very seriously by the political community.”
Diplomatic or not, in a television interview she made some pointed remarks about the fact that not a single message of sympathy had been forthcoming from the country’s Royal Family, and blamed a former prime minister, Kåre Willoch (wrongly identified in the following video as “Kurk Witnak”) for contributing to the climate of antisemitism in Norway, and also criticised bestselling author Jostein Gaarder.
Willoch, a Conservative, and a fierce critic of Israeli policy towads the Palestinian Arabs, had in May 2006 invited Hamas official Atef Adwan to a private lucheon; Willoch would subsequently be accused of antisemitism by the Wall Street Journal for observing of President Obama’s appointment of Rahm Emanuel: “It does not look too promising, he has chosen a chief of staff who is Jewish,” a remark also condemned by Alan Dershowitz.
Gaarder, during Israel’s operations against Hizbollah in southern Lebanon, had in an op-ed in the newspaper Aftenposten entitled “God’s Chosen People” described Judaism as “an archaic national and warlike religion” and noted that Christianity promotes “compassion and forgiveness”. He claimed that many Israelis rejoiced at the deaths of Lebanese children, just as the biblical Israelites celebrated the plagues a wrathful Deity inflicted upon Egypt.
“We laugh at this people’s whims, and cry over its misdeeds. To act as God’s chosen people is not only foolish and arrogant, it is a crime against humanity. We call it racism…. We laugh with embarrassment at those who still believe that the god of the flora, fauna and galaxies has chosen one particular people as his favorite, and given them amusing stone tablets, burning bushes and a license to kill….
We no longer recognize the State of Israel. We could not recognize the apartheid regime of South Africa, nor did we recognize the Afghani Taliban regime. Then there were many who did not recognize Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or the Serbs’ ethnic cleansing. We need to get used to the idea: The State of Israel, in its current form, is history.
The State of Israel has raped the recognition of the world and shall have no peace until it lays down its arms.”
Ambassador Shomrat’s remarks were denounced the following day by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, of whom we’ve also been seeing a lot in recent days.
Sniffed Støre, who has shown time and again that he is no friend to Israel:
“In the first place an ambassador from another country ought to know that the Royal Family can never respond to such remarks. And anyway she should also know that it is the government that expresses the view of the Norwegian authorities.
What she is doing is to make criticisms of something that must be interpreted as a lack of sympathy with what happened last week. I think this is an unsuitable remark for an ambassador from another country in Norway.”
Time for Norwegians to learn a lesson?