Sidsel Wold, victim du jour

Nobody has the right to harass or abuse Sidsel Wold (or anyone else). And anyone who does is doing a disservice to the legitimate criticism she (and anyone else) deserves. It’s not just a matter of civility, it’s a matter of constructive debate.

It seems that Aftenposten’s Vibeke Borgersen feels bad enough about this abuse to make sure she didn’t ask Wold a single critical question in a two-page spread (three if you count the photo page, with Wold in her floral pants, but so far this can only be read in the paper version May 7th pps 38-40). This is a softball interview that would make Barbara Walters cringe.

Yet this is entirely consistent with the narrative the press has tried to construct around Sidsel Wold: accusations against her have to yield to the fact that she’s a victim. Someone so sweet, so sensitive, so much like a “young girl,” can’t possibly be held responsible for high journalistic standards. So she gets a pass.

But in spite of all this sweetness and sensitivity: She rudely cut Manuel Gerstenfeld off when he complained that she fabricated an interview with him, but feels put out when Israeli sources won’t talk with her. She said that Israeli military sources are pathological liars who try to seduce the reporters and won’t even meet with the IDF spokesperson to confront her with these charges. Without blinking, she claims that her reports would fit nicely with Ha’aretz’s editorial policy – which is rather like saying Ny Tid offers an unbiased view of Norwegian political affairs.

But hey, she knows all about the fear Israelis experience, because her son’s school bus in Jerusalem was delayed once.

I think it’s safe to say that anyone who enters the fray on Israeli matters in Norway will experience slings and arrows. But I know one thing: Wold’s point of view will find a lot more supporters in the political mainstream than anyone who tries to point out that there are other ways to look at the matter. If it’s true that 59% of all Norwegians think that Israelis – in general – are fanatics, then Wold has to look at herself in the mirror and wonder how she contributed to that perception.

Anyone who feels like hurling abuse at Wold (or her successor, or anyone else) should exercise self-control. Her work speaks for itself. As Hellestveit pointed out, it falls neatly in the “moderate” Fatah narrative. To the exclusion of anything else.