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Letters to H.E. Mr. Morten Wetland, Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative to United Nations and Ambassador Wegger Strommen, Royal Norwegian Embassy

January 9, 2009


H.E. Mr. Morten Wetland
Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary
Permanent Representative to United Nations
825 Third Avenue, 39th Floor
New York, NY 10022

Dear Ambassador Wetland:

I am writing on behalf of the 400,000 members of the Simon Wiesenthal Center to express our grave concern over the violent Islamist protest last night that left at least 6 people injured. As you know, there was a legal demonstration of at least 500 people outside Norway’s Parliament and they were attacked by a pro-Hamas group that threw Molotov cocktails, rocks, fireworks and burned Israeli flags.

This deeply disturbing violent attack is not only connected to the unfolding events in Gaza, but takes place against the backdrop of one-sided and unfair attacks against Israel by much of the mainstream media in your country. Just recently your nation’s second largest daily newspaper, Aftenposten ran 4 consecutive days of anit-Israel articles. The first called for a general boycott of the Jewish state; the second promoted an academic boycott and falsely accused Israeli doctors of participating in torture and that the Israel Medical Association remains silent about it. Other articles accused Israel of not being a democracy.

In the meantime, your government chose to remain silent to the plea of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for a public condemnation of your nation’s leading comedian Otto Jespersen who on your country’s largest TV station said on November 27, 2008:

“I would like to take the opportunity to remember all the billions of fleas and lice that lost their lives in German gas chambers, without having done anything wrong other than settling on persons of Jewish background.”

A week later Jespersen, in his weekly TV appearance, gave a “satiric” monologue of mixed anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli remarks. He concluded by wishing the Jews a happy Christmas. But then as an afterthought, he said this was not proper, as the Jews had murdered Jesus. Two years ago the same comedian burned pages from the Jewish Bible in front of a TV camera, but this also failed to generate condemnation. Jespersen explained that he wouldn’t burn the Koran if he wanted to live longer than a week.

Mr. Ambassador, we know that Norway is a proud democracy and this letter is not about limiting expression or personal liberties. It is, however, increasingly clear that the environment for your nation’s tiny Jewish population has been poisoned by unanswered antisemitism and virulent attacks on Israel that go far beyond criticism of specific actions or policies but rather serve to demonize and deligitimize the Jewish state. We urge your nation’s leaders in Oslo to deal swiftly and publicly in ensuring that yesterday’s violence will not be tolerated and that all public manifestations of Jew-hatred will be swiftly condemned.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Abraham Cooper
Associate Dean



 

January 9, 2009

Ambassador Wegger Strommen
Royal Norwegian Embassy
2720 34th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 2008

Dear Ambassador Strommen:

I am writing on behalf of the 400,000 members of the Simon Wiesenthal Center to express our grave concern over the violent Islamist protest last night that left at least 6 people injured. As you know, there was a legal demonstration of at least 500 people outside Norway’s Parliament and they were attacked by a pro-Hamas group that threw Molotov cocktails, rocks, fireworks and burned Israeli flags.

This deeply disturbing violent attack is not only connected to the unfolding events in Gaza, but takes place against the backdrop of one-sided and unfair attacks against Israel by much of the mainstream media in your country. Just recently your nation’s second largest daily newspaper, Aftenposten ran 4 consecutive days of anit-Israel articles. The first called for a general boycott of the Jewish state; the second promoted an academic boycott and falsely accused Israeli doctors of participating in torture and that the Israel Medical Association remains silent about it. Other articles accused Israel of not being a democracy.

In the meantime, your government chose to remain silent to the plea of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for a public condemnation of your nation’s leading comedian Otto Jespersen who on your country’s largest TV station said on November 27, 2008:

“I would like to take the opportunity to remember all the billions of fleas and lice that lost their lives in German gas chambers, without having done anything wrong other than settling on persons of Jewish background.”

A week later Jespersen, in his weekly TV appearance, gave a “satiric” monologue of mixed anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli remarks. He concluded by wishing the Jews a happy Christmas. But then as an afterthought, he said this was not proper, as the Jews had murdered Jesus. Two years ago the same comedian burned pages from the Jewish Bible in front of a TV camera, but this also failed to generate condemnation. Jespersen explained that he wouldn’t burn the Koran if he wanted to live longer than a week.

Mr. Ambassador, we know that Norway is a proud democracy and this letter is not about limiting expression or personal liberties. It is, however, increasingly clear that the environment for your nation’s tiny Jewish population has been poisoned by unanswered antisemitism and virulent attacks on Israel that go far beyond criticism of specific actions or policies but rather serve to demonize and deligitimize the Jewish state. We urge your nation’s leaders in Oslo to deal swiftly and publicly in ensuring that yesterday’s violence will not be tolerated and that all public manifestations of Jew-hatred will be swiftly condemned.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Abraham Cooper
Associate Dean