In a recent interview, Norway’s ambassador to Israel has suggested that Hamas terrorism against Israel is more justified than the recent terrorist attack against Norway. His reasoning is that “we Norwegians consider the occupation to be the cause of the terror against Israel.” In other words terrorism against Israeli citizens is the fault of Israel. The terrorism against Norway, on the other hand, was based on “an ideology that said that Norway, particularly the Labor Party, is foregoing Norwegian culture.” It is hard to imagine that he would make such a provocative statement without express approval from the Norwegian government.
I can’t remember many other examples of so much nonsense compressed in such short an interview. First of all, terrorism against Israel began well before there was any “occupation.” The first major terrorist attack against Jews, who had long lived in Jerusalem and Hebron, began in 1929, when the leader of the Palestinian people, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, ordered a religiously-motivated terrorist attack that killed hundreds of religious Jews—many old, some quite young. Terrorism against Jews continued through the 1930s. Once Israel was established as a state, but well before it captured the West Bank, terrorism became the primary means of attacking Israel across the Jordanian, Egyptian and Lebanese borders. If the occupation is the cause of the terror against Israel, what was the cause of all the terror that preceded any occupation?
I was not surprised to hear such ahistorical bigotry from a Norwegian ambassador. Norway is the most anti-Semitic and anti-Israel country in Europe today. I know, because I experienced both personally during a recent visit and tour of universities. No university would invite me to lecture, unless I promised not to discuss Israel. Norway forbids Jewish ritual slaughter, but not Islamic ritual slaughter. Its political and academic leaders openly make statements that cross the line from anti-Zionism to anti-Semitism, such as when Norway’s foreign minister condemned Barak Obama for appointing a Jew as his chief of staff. No other European leader would make such a statement and get away with it. In Norway, this bigoted statement was praised, as were similar statements made by a leading academic.
The very camp that was attacked by the lone terrorist was engaged in an orgy of anti-Israel hatred the day before the shooting. Yet I would not ever claim that it was Norway’s anti-Semitism that “caused” the horrible act of terrorism against young Norwegians.
The causes of terrorism are multifaceted but at bottom they have a common cause: namely, a belief that violence is the proper response to policies that the terrorists disagree with. The other common cause is that terrorism has often been rewarded. Norway, for example, has repeatedly rewarded Palestinian terrorism against Israel, while punishing Israel for its efforts to protect its civilians. While purporting to condemn all terrorist acts, the Norwegian government has sought to justify Palestinian terrorism as having a legitimate cause. This clearly is an invitation to continued terrorism.
It is important for the world never to reward terrorism by supporting the policies of those who employ it as an alternative to reasonable discourse, diplomatic resolution or political compromise.
I know of no reasonable person who has tried to justify the terrorist attacks against Norway. Yet there are many Norwegians who not only justify terrorist attacks against Israel, but praise them, support them, help finance them, and legitimate them.
The world must unite in condemning and punishing all terrorist attacks against innocent civilians, regardless of the motive or purported cause of the terrorism. Norway, as a nation, has failed to do this. It wants us all to condemn the terrorist attack on its civilians, and we should all do that, but it refuses to live by a single standard.
Nothing good ever comes from terrorism, so don’t expect the Norwegians to learn any lessons from its own victimization. As the ambassador made clear in his benighted interview, “those of us who believe [the occupation to be the cause of the terror against Israel] will not change their minds because of the attack in Oslo.” In other words, they will persist in their bigoted view that Israel is the cause of the terrorism directed at it, and that if only Israel were to end the occupation (as it offered to do in 2000-2001 and again in 2007), the terrorism will end. Even Hamas, which Norway supports in many ways, has made clear that it will not end its terrorism as long as Israel continues to exist. Hamas believes that Israel’s very existence is the cause of the terrorism against it. That sounds a lot like the ranting of the man who engaged in the act of terrorism against Norway.
The time is long overdue for Norwegians to do some deep soul searching about their sordid history of complicity with all forms of bigotry ranging from the anti-Semitic Nazis to the anti-Semitic Hamas. There seems to be a common thread.