The Center Party proposes Bishop Gunnar Stålsett Nobel Cte vice representative

Gunnar Stålsett, the bishop who regretted having awarded Shimon Peres (Shimon Peres! You really cannot find a more docile man than him!) the Nobel peace price, has been proposed as vice representative to the Nobel Price Committee.

Let me put it like this, a couple of days ago, guest writer Bell Martin wrote a small summary of Bishop Stålsett’s complicated relationship with Israel and the Jews, but I hesitated publishing it, wanting to put it into a specific context.

Retrospectively, this was probably a smart decision, because now the Center party and the powers that be who decide on the political make-up of the Nobel Peace Price committee, now have the opportunity to carefully think through whether Bishop Stålsett is the right man for the job, or if Norway, once more will face tough questioning for politicizing this prestigious body.

Thank you, Bell, for your hard work of documenting Stålsett’s intolerable bias!

A Bishop’s Biased Statements

Bell Martin

One of Google’s many useful applications is that we can often rapidly see where a person stands on certain issues. This also helps to introduce those who do not read Norwegian to a number of well-known Norwegians with anti-Israeli bias. The first one whose collective statements on Google are exposed here is the former Lutheran Bishop of Oslo (1998-2005) Gunnar Stålsett

In a sermon from the memorial service for the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center held in the Oslo Cathedral, Stålsett said about extremism:

“One has to defeat fundamentalism in Christian, Jewish, or Muslim disguise. It is the same.” [1]

Stålsett lectured on the topic “Religions for peace”:
“… [he] puts a mental question mark behind the title [Religions for peace], but hopes to put a dash or preferably an exclamation mark behind it!” [2] “…one of the reasons the Oslo Accords did not succeed was because they did not include the religious leaders.”’ [3]

In 2002, along with other members of the Nobel peace prize committee Stålsett criticized Shimon Peres and accused him of breaking international law.[4]

During the Gaza war 2009 Stålsett criticized the Christians that supported Israel.
“Stålsett finds it difficult to see that it is possible, on the basis of Christian belief and theology, to defend the war in Gaza the way it is being conducted by Israel. He reacts to the fact that Christians can ‘stand up and defend the murder of innocent civilians’. ‘Israel has the right to protect their residents. What we are protesting against is the way this is carried out, the violent war machine Israel has mobilized which leads to a blood bath in Gaza’, says Stålsett, as the leader of The European Council of Religious leaders.” [5]
“But he believes Israel is a superior military power, Israel particularly, has a moral responsibility in the conflict. ‘They say this is a reaction to the Palestinian intifada, but the reaction is in no way proportional to it.” [6]

At a pro- Palestinian rally in Norway in 2002, Stålsett, then bishop of Oslo, was to speak. However would not speak until anti-Semitic signs were taken down.
“Jews in Norway are exposed to threats and harassment towards        their own homes. Parents are worried about their children’s security. This makes an impression and calls for caution’, Stålsett says, he warned about a new wave of anti-Semitism in Europe if we are not aware” [7]

Stålsett supports a ceasefire in 2009, as the elected leader of Religions for Peace:

“When innocent children, women and elderly are made targets or randomly are affected by the Israeli war machine, the world community does not want to take responsibility. The consideration to save civilian life must be a priority rather than tactical and strategic assessments. Both the Israeli government and Hamas must be able to realize this. Neither Hamas’ rockets nor Israel’s attacks can be legitimized as self defense. But Israel’s response to Hamas’ rockets is oversized and breaches all civilized norms of warfare.” [8]
“This is not a religious war, but on both sides religious legitimization occurs by the use of violence. Luckily there are religious counter forces and we now need to support the peace initiatives that are being made by Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders in the region.”
“Yet again we see the global and the local cannot be separated when war breaks out. Palestinians here in Norway are worried about their relatives and friends and need our support.”
“From different directions there are messages of legitimate demonstrations against Israel’s warfare which have started unruly violence against the police and carried ugly anti-Semitic pieces. … This is terrifying for the Norwegian Jews and completely unacceptable.”
“Stålsett believes there has been a striking silence among the Norwegian church leaders. ‘When those who are close to our hearts are pursuing criminal acts, we must for their sake and our own conscience dare to take a side to not become an accomplice. Therefore all legitimate forms of protest against the cruelty in Gaza must be increased.”

We have provided the raw materials for analysis. Those who want to exercise their skills in identifying the varied types of bias in Bishop Stålsett’s statements should put their teeth in the above texts.


[1] Norge IDAG, ”Biskop Stålsetts falsknerier”, 15.09.2001, http://www.idag.no/ledere-oppslag.php3?ID=1495

[2] Signe Luth Johansen, ”Gunnar Stålsett: Religioner for fred. Perspektiver på den globaliserte verden”, http://pugjovik.no/referat/stalsett.html

[3] Ibid

[4] Hege Ulstein & Kaia Storvik, ”Skammer seg over nobelprisen til Peres”, 07.01.2009, Dagsavisen, http://www.dagsavisen.no/innenriks/article390380.ece

[5] NTB,”Stålsett kritiserer kristnes forsvar av Israel”, 08.01.2009, http://www.aftenbladet.no/utenriks/midtostkonflikt/Stlsett-kritiserer-kristnes-forsvar-av-Israel-2006310.html

[6] NTB, ”Biskop Stålsett kritiserer Israel”, 28.12.2000, http://www.dagbladet.no/nyheter/2000/12/28/234677.html

[7] Wibecke Lie, ”Stålsett Reagerte på Jødehets”, 06.04.2002, http://www.dagbladet.no/nyheter/2002/04/06/323126.html

[8] Gunnar Stålsett, ”Stans blodbadet I Gaza! Advarer mot anti-Semitisme I Norge”, 06.01.2006, http://www.ntbinfo.no/Det-europeiske-religionslederradet/Gunnar-Stalsett-Stans-blodbadet-i-Gaza-Advarer-mot-antisemittisme-i-Norge.12991/?type=opensearch&pageIndex=263&searchKey=6f074433-d2b7-11e0-946b-4d03383dd13c&languageId=NO

The attached references reveal a troubling  record, scroll up to the paragraph where Stålsett addressed the pro-Palestinian rally in 2002 (when Israel was plagued by a wave of suicide attacks, killing and maiming many hundreds of innocent Israelis), where one could get the impression that he was standing up for decency. After having cleared the plaza of blatant anti-Semitic banners, he was quite happy to speak in front of a crowd that called for death to Israel. In his speech in 2002, he said among other things

It is wrong to accuse all Jews for what is the responsibility of the Israeli government. But it is alos dangerous to stop all criticism of Israel by calling it anti-Semitic. All attempts to limit a the public discourse, is an affront to democratic values. It should serve as a reminder that if everybody who is critical of the policies of Israeli prime minister Sharon, are anti-Semites, then this would also be true of many Israelis.

it is time for the international society to place UN troops to guard the borders between Israel and Palestine. Only in this way, can Palestinian suicide bombers be stopped from killing innocent Israelis, and only in this way can the world stop israel from liquidating Palestinians on Palestinian soil.