Dr.Manfred Gerstenfeld: I am very grateful that
Harald Stanghelle is finally using my talking points
This only gets more interesting. From the excellent >Norway, Israel and the Jews blog (NIJ), is the following report that you all might find rather interesting. Norwegian elites are either impervious to being fools, or simply forgetfull of their nonsenical views. KGS
NIJ: Editorial in Aftenposten-Aften, paper edition, by Harald Stanghelle
Is it possible for the editor of one of Norway’s largest newspapers to angrily reject foreign criticism one week, only to endorse the very same facts some weeks later, without anybody noticing his inconsistency?
The above is an editorial by Harald Stanghelle, from the evening edition of Aftenposten on Wednesday, January 6th, titled “A minority in danger?” In it, editor Stanghelle refers to how all religious congregations in Oslo are experiencing growth – except for the Jews, who are in decline.
He points to how Jewish leader Anne Sander counts approximately 700 members in her Oslo-based congregation, which is 150 less than was thought. Mr. Stanghelle mentions some basics and highlights concerning the history of Norwegian Jews, and writes that Norwegian Jews are made to feel unwelcome by being required to constantly defend the actions of the state of Israel, as well as by certain segments of deeply anti-semitic muslim immigrants. He concludes:
The Jewish minority is part of the Norwegian unity – a very valuable part. In the case that what we now see are the first signs of this minority loosing its power as a viable unit, it is a deep tragedy. Not only for Norwegian Jews, but for Norwegian society as a whole.
Now it is highly commendable of Mr.Stanghelle to finally catch up on how Norwegian Jews might understandably be under quite a bit of stress, and may very well have been so for some time. An Aftenposten-editor will always be a man of considerable importance in Norway. Yet we feel it necessary to point out the following: Stanghelle is merely repeating some of the main points of what appears to be his private arch-enemy, Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld of the JCPA. What is more, these are points that Mr.Stanghelle very recently has slammed as being the exaggerations of blind fanatics on the Israeli far-right.
To follow the highly unlikely chain of events as they unfold, read through the points below:
1. Dr.Manfred Gerstenfeld of the JCPA, who has written extensively on anti-semitism and anti-Israelism in Norway (and received little love from the Norwegian media for his pains), gave a seminar in Jerusalem on November 19th where he pointed to, among other, the issues which editor Stanghelle now bemoans. One of Dr.Gerstenfeld key questions was: “What is behind this obsession with Israel and the Jews by a Norwegian elite which falsely calls itself progressive? Why are so many pioneering anti-Israeli, and also anti-Semitic, acts coming out of this country?”
2. In response to Gerstenfeld’s seminar Aftenposten published a full-page article on it on November 21st, in which Hilde Henriksen Waage, professor at the University of Oslo and a well-known Israel-critic states: “These claims of anti-Semitism in Norway lack even a minimum of factuality and foundation. Therefore it is all but impossible to relate to them in any reasonable way… they (the allegations) are put forward, in somewhat different packaging and repeatedly, by this institute, by the Jerusalem Post and by the Israeli foreign minister, in other words by the rightwing in Israel“.
3. Aftenposten comments the very next day on November 22nd, not upon the contents of Dr.Gerstenfeld’s seminar but on Aftenposten’s own article on it (see above) in an editorial titled “False picture“, which angrily rejects Dr.Gerstenfeld’s criticism and states: “Again the extreme Israeli right-of-centre demonstrates how it is so impossible to arrive at a passable basis for discussion whenever the Middle East – conflict is on the agenda. And again it is the inexhaustible author Manfred Gerstenfeld who is afoot“. This editorial, which also manages to call Dr.Gerstenfeld a “blinded fanatic“, is widely believed to have been written by Harald Stanghelle (It was unsigned).
4. Aftenposten allows Dr.Gerstenfeld a right of reply to the editorial on November 28th (above). in a letter where he writes: “Aftenposten has attacked me in an editorial with false personal characterizations. The same text shows the paper’s inability to confront my detailed documented exposures about many shortcomings of Norway’s ruling elites” and also points out how he believes the story of the boycott-Israel attempt at NTNU is being twisted.
5. At this point the debate crosses over to Israel, where there is a brief duel in the Jerusalem Post, before the debate continues in Aftenposten with a reader criticizing the editorial (of November 22nd) attacking Gerstenfeld (the reader, a professor at NTNU, was shortly thereafter made out to look like a fanatic in NTNU’s University newspaper Universitetsavisen) and NTNU’s rector Torbjørn Digernes pens a letter in defense against Gerstenfeld’s right-of-reply of November 28th.
6. Ambassador Jakken Bjørn Lian writes to the Jerusalem Post on December 13th a letter titled “Norway is not anti-Semitic” in response to an op-ed which Dr.Gerstenfeld somehow has managed to squeeze in on November 30th (actually a response to another Norwegian…). In his letter the ambassador, who has whitewashed Norway before, among other claims that is unfair of Gerstenfeld to see deputy Minister Ingrid Fiskaa’s statement of wanting the UN to “precision-bomb Israel” as anti-Semitic, as she said this in the dim past an entire year before being made deputy-minister.
7. Dr.Gerstenfeld challenges the ambassador to debate him fair and square. In a letter to the Jerusalem Post on December 14th Dr.Gerstenfeld states: “The Norwegian government asks Israel to talk to Hamas which in its platform promotes genocide against the Jews. With such a governmental attitude ambassador Lian should be delighted to debate a democrat like me rather than murderers. I am waiting for his suggestion of possible dates for a public debate so that the audience can decide who is right.”
8. Aftenposten interviews Jewish leader Anne Sender under the heading “Jews are leaving Oslo” on December 15th. This is the interview to which editor Harald Stanghelle refers in his editorial yesterday. At the time, this site commented upon how Anne Sender proved ambassador Lian wrong:
“Only a few days ago, on December 13th, Norway’s ambassador to Israel slammed JCPA’s Dr.Gerstenfeld in an op-ed to the Jerusalem Post. The ambassador claimed that Dr.Gerstenfeld’s criticism of Jew-and Israel hatred in Norway was exaggerated. The ambassador, Jakken Bjørn Lian, wrote: “If anybody should feel the brunt of what Gerstenfeld has described as “the pattern of anti-Semitism,” it would be the Norwegian Jews living in the country. But the opinions of their leaders do not fit Gerstenfeld’s worldview, and are conveniently left out.”
9. Norway refuses to debate Gerstenfeld, online newspaper Idag.no reports on December 16th, quoting a Norwegian spokesperson as saying: “The Norwegian government is open to any criticism or complaint to their position and politics, but this must be based on respect both towards the involved parties and truth. So far we have seen very little of this is in the tireless campaign being waged by Gerstenfeld“.
10. Editor Harald Stanghelle of Aftenposten writes an editorial (see top) on Wednesday of January 6th, where he basically regurgitates some of the very same allegations of Manfred Gerstenfeld which he and ambassador Lian have so vehemently objected to previously. No mention is made of the Israeli academic who identified patterns of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism in Norway for years ago, so naturally no apologies can be made either.
While it is a great relief to see the powerful Mr.Stanghelle recognize some of the more ugly aspects of Oslo, it would be even better if he had not first resisted seeing them in the first place, and slammed Dr.Gerstenfeld for doing so. Yet even though an apology would definitely be in place, the most important thing is to make Oslo a city in which Norwegian (as well as foreign) Jews want to live.
To this then, we must hope that editor Stanghelle will contribute.