Normakor weekly summary Week of May 22nd

The weekly summaries are supplied by Normakor.

Norwegian media memes on Israel, Jews, and the Middle East
Week of May 22, 2011

Aftenposten’s article titled “Rich Jews Threaten Obama” (reported here last week) created a bit of a stir-up, prompting Barry White, the US ambassador to Norway, to submit a letter of protest to the editor. The ambassador pointed out that the headline perpetuated ethnic stereotypes and that the article itself was misleading about US policy toward Israel.

Mainstream news organizations did not provide readers with links to transcripts or videos to Netanyahu’s entire speech to the United States Congress but instead contrived a deep divide between Netanyahu and Obama. Congressional ovations were attributed to the powerful “Jewish lobby.” A translation was finally provided by Dagen, a Christian newspaper.

Foreign minister Støre published an op-ed in Dagsavisen (unauthorized Israelwhat transation here), also published on the government’s home page, pleading with the parties to return to the negotiating table. He expressed “understanding” of the Palestinian’s position but was “disheartened” by the (“not unexpected”) Israeli response.

Støre has repeatedly said that the Norwegian position toward a Palestinian unity government will be determined by the contents of a joint Hamas-Fatah platform, there is wide consensus in Norway that the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation is a promising sign. In his op-ed Støre also made it clear that Norway would consider supporting a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence unless Israel shapes up. He also admonishes all parties to comply with the “Oslo agreement,” apparently oblivious to the contradiction.

A lengthy article in Kristiansand-based Fædrelandsvennen, republished by Aftenposten, revealed that a Christian Zionist group, Karmel-Instituttet (founded by the late Per Faye-Hansen, who was named among the Righteous of the Nations), has collected funds to support settlement construction both in Gaza and the West Bank. A leader in the Conservative party quickly renounced such donations as “criminal,” and the government quickly sprang into action to pass laws to ban tax-deductible contributions to “activities in violation of international law.” Karmel-Instituttet meanwhile reported that contributions went through the roof after this article.

Norwegian newspapers widely reported in their headlines that the Rafah crossing was “open” and “free” for Palestinians wishing to enter Egypt, each noting in parantheses the various restrictions imposed by Egyptian authorities. NRK’s Sidsel Wold explained that Gaza nevertheless remained “under siege” by Israel.

Norwegian writer and political activist Sara Azmeh Rasmussen gave a remarkable and heartfelt speech at MIFF (the largest Israel advocacy group) this weekend about antisemitism in her childhood in Syria – she considered this her life’s most important speech, but it got zero attention in the mainstream press.

Looking ahead, the press is likely to focus on

  • Obama’s European tour generally, and specifically any signs that the president is aligned with the Norwegian views.
  • Norway’s continued involvement in Libya.
  • The case, or rather rationalization, for Norwegian support for a) the Hamas-Fatah government, and b) a unilateral declaration of Palestinian independence in the fall. It is apparent that Støre is under considerable pressure from members of the coalition government, and his own ego, to be a die-hard fan of Palestinian nation-building, come what may.
  • World Week for Peace [sic], arranged by Norwegian Church Aid (a semi-governmental agency), with a program that is remarkable for its lack of conciliation toward Israeli and Jewish concerns.

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This weekly update is an editorialized summary of key themes in the Norwegian coverage of Israel, Jewish matters, and the Middle East. Normakor also maintains a Norwegian-language comprehensive media stream of these items.

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