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Dershowitz Slams Norway for Anti-Semitism

Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz visited Norway, decried the official anti-Semitism he encountered, and inspired new-found pride among Jews.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 3/28/2011, 11:03 AM / Last Update: 3/28/2011, 10:38 AM

Samuel Dershowitz

Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz visited Norway, decried the official anti-Semitism he encountered, and inspired new-found pride among Jews. 

The renowned lawyer and author spoke at the Beit Chabad in Oslo, startling the audience with his account of the reactions he received from the country’s political and academic leadership.

Dershowitz, 72, said he is generally invited to meet with heads of state wherever he travels, yet Norway’s leaders refused to meet with him. His offers to speak at NTNU-Trondheim and Oslo universities were also declined, he said, because of his views on Israel.

Lubavitch.com reported that Dershowitz spoke before a group of about 30 people, including university professors, and urged them to take lessons in Jewish pride and courage from Chabad.

The event was arranged by Rabbi Shaul Wilhelm, Oslo’s Chabad representative, who later said it had an enormous impact. “I received calls and texts from people who finally realized that it’s time to speak up,” the rabbi said. “One woman called me and said, ‘We finally have to be vocal about who we are.’ Another said she took the courage to make a statement on Facebook and wrote, ‘I am a Jew and I am sticking up for Israel.’”

Yet another participant said, “After so many years of living here and hearing people tell me that day is night and night is day, I’ve stopped screaming that it’s not true. Mr. Dershowitz comes along and opens the window and says it’s a beautiful day!”

Petition Against Israel's Existence
Dershowitz came to Norway at the invitation of the ICEJ (International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem), and was invited by NTNU students independently of the university. Lubavitch.com reported that the professor read aloud the first line of a petition prepared by Norwegian professors to boycott Israel, showing the students that it is not occupation, but rather the existence of the State of Israel altogether that bothers Norwegian academics: “Since 1948 the State of Israel has occupied Palestinian land…”

The petition failed to garner the necessary signatures, but it is effectively being practiced against Israel by Norwegian universities, Dershowitz said. He cautioned that those who attempt to pursue it formally would be shunned in the academic community, boycotted in reverse, and sued for discrimination.

Against Shechitah, In Favor of Seal-Butchering
When it comes to its record on Israel and the Jews, Dershowitz said, “Norway is the worst country in the world… it is on the wrong side of history, morality and democratic values. It permits the butchering of seals and whales, but does not allow the most humane means of animal slaughter” simply because it is needed by Jews.

Norway was the first the country in the Western world to prohibit production of kosher meat. 

Rabbi Wilhelm told Lubavitch.com that fewer than 1,000 people are registered as Jews in Norway, but that there are actually twice that many, including 800 living in Oslo. He said that Chabad, working hard to inspire a change in Jewish attitudes, drew a record number of 250 at its Purim bash last week.

Dershowitz has been outspoken on behalf of Jonathan Pollard, against Judge Goldstone and his report, and against classifying U.S. President Obama as unfair to Israel. Regarding Israeli towns and communities ("settlements") in Judea and Samaria, he said last year, "I did not say the settlements were illegal; I said they are not good for Israel and that I oppose them." On the other hand, he has also expressed his belief that even if Israel were to remove all its "settlements," the PA would still be reluctant to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish secular democracy.