Krasnik confronts his critics

lifted from aftenposten.no (google translate)

Martin Krasnik caused a lot of bitter anger with his critical and confrontational interview with Mads Gilbert. This is his reply to his Norwegian “colleagues”

Contributes to an entrenched conflict

When I confront Mads Gilbert in the Deadline program,  is precisely because I believe that simplified representations and attitudes are conducive to an entrenched conflict, journalist Martin Krasnik writes.
Debate Martin Krasnik, journalist, DR

My interview with Mads Gilbert in Saturday’s Deadline has been the subject of some debate in Norway. It pleases me, of course, because the purpose of Deadline is to create discussion about the topics we address.

It was obvious for us to invite Mads Gilbert. We had been covering the the war between Israel and Hamas for several weeks. The attitudes of the European public sphere, particularly in Scandinavia, intensified day by day.

I had myself noticed the international interest in Gilbert’s work in Gaza. Several international media has described his praiseworthy efforts to treat wounded Palestinians. But Mads Gilbert speaks not only about his work as a doctor.

He also tells us what he thinks about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, which is quite natural when one thinks of his experiences in Gaza.

But it is none the less his political views he expresses. And with his status and reputation both in Norway and in the rest of the world, there are many people who listen to him.

Not only a doctor
The purpose of my interview was just to give our viewers an insight into these attitudes – and challenge them. Mads Gilbert has fronted media initiatives in conjunction with his medical work in Gaza, said that Israel deliberately firing on civilians, women and children, that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians, and Hamas is not a terrorist organization. These are controversial statements which naturally should be challenged.

Now there are many who say that it is unreasonable to create a confrontational interview with a doctor about politics.

This, I hold, it is totally misunderstood. Mads Gilbert is not only a doctor – he has influence, he has strong opinions, and yes, he has also been politically active in the Red party. He is quoted on the party’s website, which also encourages a boycott of Israeli goods.

Ill suited interview method?
Sven Egil Omdahl is one of my Norwegian critics. He writes in a Facebook discussion that the confrontational interview  is”suitable only to certain interviewees, and is dangerous to others. In the interview with Gilbert this format helps to relativize both Gilbert’s efforts and the horrible atrocities against the civilian population in Gaza. ”

Omdahl obviously thinks that I should go for tough confrontation for politicians or business people with some form of overt power:

“A doctor who has been working around the clock under the conditions that Gilbert has experienced, is hardly the kind of power people who should get all their motives, their experiences and their facts questioned,” writes Omdahl.

It is a very narrow conception of power is here expressed. Mads Gilbert’s influence on the Norwegian debate on the Middle East is obvious. I do not question his humanitarian work – only his attitudes. Gilbert himself is not a victim, and does not represent the “Palestinian people”, he says he supports. He represents himself – and his attitudes.

The Devil’s Advocate
Mads Gilbert has after the interview said that he experienced being “attacked” with “dirty methods”. I apologize of course, but both over the phone and just before the interview, I told him that the format is that I assume the role of devil’s advocate. He said both times that it was in order.

Gilbert also said that I “support Israel” and “trying to get the focus away from those facts” and lost my “journalistic integrity and credibility.”

Let me for the sake of clarify that my own attitudes have no influence on the questions I asked Gilbert. I have made ​​many critical interviews with sources that are highly positively to Israel, including Israeli ambassadors and spokespersons.

No one is objective
In general, in the coverage of Gaza, it is impossible to find sources that can be described as objective. Everybody has an attitude – whether the so-called experts or experience sources. And so you just have to challenge and confront the attitudes guests have.

It’s not up to me as a journalist to decide what is right and wrong. even if one is  a doctor who has devoted his life to try to save victims of the war, one should still be able to defend their attitudes when they are participating in the public debate.

I am like many other very preoccupied with Middle East. This commitment means that I believe it is important to nuance the debate about the very complicated and unhappy conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

When I aggressively confront Mads Gilbert Deadline is precisely because I believe that simplified representations and attitudes towards one party of the conflict contributes to an entrenched conflict.

Did I succeed? This, the viewers will have to decide.