Op-Ed: A Norwegian Diplomat Who Only Harms HIs Country's Image
Dr. Manfred GerstenfeldThe 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 a transfer of power, and they were not ready for it. A peace agreement with Israel would have meant an opening up to the world.”
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.”
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.
“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.” 
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. On another occasion, Dysvik also described how the “occupation” is a “defining factor” of Norway’s relations with Israel.
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. 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.”
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.
 Akiva Eldar, “Norwegian Diplomat Doubts Israel Settlements can be Stopped,” Al-Monitor, 16 September 2013.
 Caroline Glick, ”Breivik and totalitarian democrats,” Jerusalem Post, 28 July 2011
 Barry Rubin, “The Oslo Syndrome,” Jerusalem Post, 31 August 2011.
 Barry Rubin, “Norway and terror: Repressing discussion doesn’t help,” Jerusalem Post, 6 August 2011.
 Vebjørn Dysvik, ”Bosettinger til besvær” , Norge i verden: Tel Aviv (Regjeringen), 15 March 2013.
 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.
 Barry Davis, “Dancing with Norway,” Jerusalem Post Magazine, 25 October 2013, 20.
, “Why Nils Butenschøn must partake in next week’s seminar on anti-Semitism,” Norway, Israel and the Jews, 11 June 2011.