The PR disaster that is the Norwegian embassy in Tel Aviv.

Some diplomats should definitely spend more time drinking cocktails than trying to “represent” their country.

Here Gerstenfeld undresses Mr. Sevje

lifted from

Op-Ed: A Norwegian Diplomat Who Only Harms HIs Country’s Image

The only Norwegian speaker at the Conference on November 6 at Haifa University, sponsored by the Norwegian embassy, is the leading anti-Israel inciter Butenschon.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld

The writer has been a long-term adviser on strategy issues to the boards of several major multinational corporations in Europe and North America.He is board member and former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and recipient of the LIfetime Achievement Award (2012) of the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism.


Over the past years, a bit more has become known in Israel about Norway’s hateful attitudes toward Israel and the Jews. This has led to an increasingly negative image of that country.

In Israel, the greatest damage to how Norway is viewed was probably caused by its current Ambassador Svein Sevje.

In a recent interview with extreme left wing Israeli journalist Akiva Eldar, Sevje explained why Bashir Assad will go down in history as a barbarian dictator instead of a democratic reformer. He implied that the Syrian civil war resulted from the absence of a peace agreement with Israel saying: “I believe that with such an agreement, Syria would have been a different country today. The emergency laws would have had to be removed; the regime would have carried out reforms. The regime was petrified, and they knew that any opening up to democratic values would mean atransfer of power, and they were not ready for it. A peace agreement with Israel would have meant an opening up to the world.”[1]

Most of Sevje’s diplomatic postings have been in the Middle East. However, he has learned precious little from the millennial history of anti-Semitism in which Jews were continuously blamed for the misconduct of others. One sees this from his remark to Eldar concerning the Oslo agreements and if peace had been reached as a result of them: “I am well aware of the fact that what is happening in the Arab countries around you has nothing to do with the lack of an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, but it would have removed the pretext for blaming Israel for everything.”

Not surprisingly in that interview, Sevje said nothing about the Palestinian Authority’s glorification of murderers of Israeli civilians, nor about religious elements in Hamas’ genocidal charter.

A number of remarks made by Sevje to Israeli media after the Breivik murders in 2011, have greatly contributed to Norway’s negative image. In his observations he implied that terror against Israel was justified in Norwegian eyes. This elicited strong replies from various Israeli writers.

Caroline Glick, Senior Editor of the Jerusalem Post quoted Sevje’s words “We Norwegians view the occupation as the reason for terror against Israel. Many Norwegians still see the occupation as the reason for attacks against Israel. Whoever thinks this way, will not change his mind as a result of the attack in Oslo.” Glick commented: “So in the mind of the illiberal Norwegians, terrorism is justified if the ideology behind it is considered justified. For them it is unacceptable for Breivik to murder Norwegian children, because his ideology is wrong. But it is acceptable for Palestinians to murder Israeli children, because their ideology is right.”[2]

Political scientist Barry Rubin wrote, “Many Europeans will accept terrorism against Israelis or even Americans; very few will applaud terrorism against fellow Europeans. One of the most sensitive aspects of the murderous terrorist attack in Norway by a right-wing gunman is this irony: The youth camp he attacked was engaged in what was essentially – though the campers didn’t see it that way, no doubt – a pro-terrorist program.[3]

“The camp, run by Norway’s Left-wing party, was lobbying for breaking the blockade of the terrorist Hamas regime in Gaza, and for immediate recognition of a Palestinian state, without that entity needing to do anything that would prevent it from being used as a terrorist base against Israel. They were justifying forces that had committed terrorism against Israelis, killing thousands of people like themselves.” In another article Rubin wrote, “People who accept rationales for terrorism and reward those movements politically increase terrorism.” [4]

Diplomats in foreign countries try to improve relations between their countries. However, Vebjørn Dysvik, while he was Deputy Head of the Norwegian embassy in Tel Aviv under Sevje, published blog posts on the Norwegian government website where he repeated the one-sided rhetoric on how settlement activities are an impediment to a peaceful solution.[5]On another occasion, Dysvik also described how the “occupation” is a “defining factor” of Norway’s relations with Israel.[6]

In a recent interview, Sevje said that Norway’s embassy will invest in cultural activities in Israel to improve the country’s negative image from now on.[7] To accomplish this, Norway could have found more effective ways.

It would for instance have been much more meaningful if King Harald V apologized for the high orders he awarded to extreme anti-Semites masquerading as anti-Israelis.

The Holocaust inverting cartoonist Finn Graf drew former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as a Nazi commander. In March 2007, he was knighted in the prestigious Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav.

Two more honors were bestowed upon Hamas supporters and blood libel promoters Mads Gilbert and Erik Fosse. The King awarded another one to Muslim anti-Semite Trond Ali Linstad, yet was forced to rescind it in view of widespread criticism.

Sevje’s embassy’s promotion of Norwegian cultural activities started abysmally. Generous support for a conference at Haifa University on the Oslo Processs this week was announced. The only Norwegian speaker is frequent anti-Israel inciter Nils Butenschon. He was also a lecturer at the Trondheim NTNU University seminar held before that board’s vote whether to boycott Israel in 2010. Ha’aretz called this seminar an “All-star team of Israel-haters.”[8]

Norway has a new government, which is unlikely to continue the hostile, partly anti-Semitic and humanitarian racist policy of the previous Labor Party dominated cabinet.

I was recently interviewed by a Norwegian TV station and others about how to improve relations between the two countries.

I repeat here what I said there: the first step should be replacing Norway’s current ambassador with someone who would represent his country much better.


[1] Akiva Eldar, “Norwegian Diplomat Doubts Israel Settlements can be Stopped,” Al-Monitor, 16 September 2013.

[2] Caroline Glick, ”Breivik and totalitarian democrats,” Jerusalem Post, 28 July 2011

[3] Barry Rubin, “The Oslo Syndrome,” Jerusalem Post, 31 August 2011.

[4] Barry Rubin, “Norway and terror: Repressing discussion doesn’t help,” Jerusalem Post, 6 August 2011.

[5] Vebjørn Dysvik, ”Bosettinger til besvær” , Norge i verden: Tel Aviv(Regjeringen), 15 March 2013.

[6] Raphael Ahren, “Told that Norway is the West’s most anti-Semitic country, diplomat lashes out at Israel,” The Times of Israel, 6 November 2012.

[7] Barry Davis, “Dancing with Norway,” Jerusalem Post Magazine, 25 October 2013, 20.

[8], “Why Nils Butenschøn must partake in next week’s seminar on anti-Semitism,” Norway, Israel and the Jews, 11 June 2011.


8 comments for “The PR disaster that is the Norwegian embassy in Tel Aviv.

  1. de Bacle
    November 7, 2013 at 3:59 am

    Unbelievable that the Norwegian Ambassador to Israel sponsors, of all people, the Israel-hater Butenschoen.

    Butenschoen started up the Norwegian “support groups” for the Palestinian terrorists of the 70’s and has restlessly denounced Israel since. A spokesman for those opposing a two-state solution (well aware of that a one-state solution will destroy the state as we know it) he already received too much of a platform in Norway without this additional encouragement from the one person on the Norwegian states payroll whose explicit job it is to improve relations with Israel.

    Not surprised Sevje was put there by Stoere et al., but why keep him on now ?

  2. martin
    November 8, 2013 at 2:50 am

    de Bacle, I must disagree wit your opening statement. It is only too believable and quite expected. The chattering liberal Left wing runs most of Europe and Norway is no exception.

    The hate towards Israel, regardless of any positive accomplishments are totally ignored in favour of the glutinous greedy and corrupt nations within the oil rich autonomies within the Arab Islamic world This hate is so engrained within the society, a mere change of government will not change anything. The whole of the elitist establishment needs to take a serious hard look at itself and rid it’s hate towards the USA and Israel. It has taken maybe 2-3 decades or more for Norway to behave the ay it does. I suggest t road back to decency will take just as long.

    Have a happy…

  3. Eric R.
    November 8, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    This is Israel’s fault. Israel should have declared him persona non-grata, grabbed him the minute he stepped out of the Embassy, taken him directly to the Airport for a one way flight to Cyprus.

  4. martin
    November 9, 2013 at 5:33 am

    100% agreement with Eric R. Unfortunately, Israeli political masters have lost their baytsim. The Norwegian diplomat who was supposedly expelled from Riyadh in disgrace after her Jew hate rant, was left there in place. Of course, she has become a Muslim herself.

    I still say, regardless of who is in government the vile opportunist within the elitist establishment still makes the rules. Israel should have cancelled all diplomatic relations with Norway long ago. Israel does not need Norway. Norway needs to make herself a nuisance at Israel ‘s expense..

  5. martin
    November 10, 2013 at 4:59 am

    I agree with you 100% Eric R. However, it still does not go far enough. I am delighted for Norway that the new government will have a better understanding of politics and finances especially. However, at the end of the day, insofar as Israel and the Jews are concerned…. it is still the elite establishment that runs Norway, as it does in the UK. In fact in the UK, any real democratic freedom is being eaten away b the present coalition. and that is scary.

    Eric R, what is the feeling about the US 6th Fleet retreating from the Med, while the Russki fleet is expanding its presence? It is not just Israel that has had enough of Obama, he is distrusted by Egypt, Saudi, gulf states etc as being very weak to its enemies. i.e. Iran

  6. Ellen
    November 12, 2013 at 5:34 am

    While having a new government does nothing to persuade anti-Israel sympathizers that they’re on the wrong side, at least it gives Norway a chance to improve its public image. It’s fairly obvious that Sevje and his whole embassy crew needs to be replaced at the first opportunity.

    The problem is that the people in Norway have been told lies about Israel and the conflict from a government they trusted, a government that was once very good to them. After the war, the Labour government instilled the people with a sense of hope and direction. It promised them to make Norway a better country to live in, where ordinary people would have more rights and benefits than before, and in the beginning it kept these promises. During these years, it was also quite fond of fellow Labour-friendly, progressive Israel. People felt gratitude and loyalty towards Gerhardsen, Bratteli & Co. The political left was a success because it made ordinary people love it and trust it.

    (And it’s my sincere belief that back in those days the majority of their voters were honest, hard-working people. Then came the 68’ers with their experimental beliefs and youthful superiority, and colloquial sanity died and went to hell.)

    While the love, and a lot of the trust, has gone out the window among “ordinary” Norwegians in the later years, the Left still has significant power because it made another group love them: The academics and itellectuals. Nowadays they provide a much more attractive voter-base, because they’re educated and influential. It gives AP, SV and the Reds a feeling of accomplishment and importance that they’re the parties of choice of the “enlightened” and influential. While strong capitalist leader-figures like Stordalen and Fredriksen have more power over what actually goes on in Norwegian everyday life, strong “Liberal” voices like international best-selling author Gaarder and film director Vibeke Løkkeberg contribute more to Norway’s precious image as international do-gooders and global voice of conscience. And for some reason, bashing Israel is also good for that image.

    If the Conservative new government wants to stay in power and change the course of the country, it needs to do what the Left once did, and make us love them. They are undoubtedly smart enough to see that they have a very good chance to do that now, when the Left have more or less alienated the “ordinary” people it once represented, by shaming them as uneducated, ignorant, paranoid and dangerous bumpkins who only care about cheaper booze. The Conservatives can win the people’s love now, by treating them like intelligent people capable of thinking for theselves. Maybe that will even win over a few leftists, who were secretly tired of being told what to think and feel about everything.

    They’ll probably never be as popular among the “intellectual” as the Left, since the “intellectucal” like to pretend they’re on the side of the “little guys”, so a democratic change of government in any country will never change the tilt of the main-stream media. But said media’s message has a different effect when it’s in opposition to the government, a government popular with the people, than when it’s the voice of the government. Hopefully, hearing NRK slam the government for allowing cooperation with Israel will actually make people think, where hearing them praise the government for taking a hard line only convinced people that Israel just had to be bad.

    (I seem to be on a roll today. Appologies for the rampant abuse of italics.)

  7. martin
    November 13, 2013 at 5:26 am

    Ellen, no apologies needed. What a wonderfully clear and well thought out genuine response to this article. Perhaps I need to become less cynical, time will tell, as actions will speak louder than mere words and slogans. I do hope you are right.
    Have a happy,,,,,,,

  8. Eric R.
    November 14, 2013 at 3:21 pm


    Before Obama, I would have thought that the draw down of the 6th fleet would be a disaster.

    But really, how much better these days is Obama’s regime than Putin’s?

    Putin may be ruthless, but unlike Obama, he is not a naive idiot.

    It reminds me of a joke that a conservative comedian (there are a handful in the USA) told not long ago.

    He said that any comparison of Putin and Obama is completely unfair. One of them uses his security apparatus and government bureaucracy to harass and silence enemies, and has total control over a lapdog press.

    And the other one is Vladimir Putin.

Comments are closed.