Trond Andresen: Norwegian Antisemitism Denial Fail

Last week, Professor Alan Dershowitz published an article in the WSJ about his recent tour of Norwegian Universities, in which he was hosted by student groups at a series of Norwegian universities. Although his talk was offered to various faculties at those universities, all of which have hosted a series of outspoken anti-Israel academics, none were prepared to hear Professor Dershowitz talk on international law and the Israel-Palestine conflict. Although one requested a talk on the O.J. Simpson trial.

Professor Dershowitz notes that Norwegian academics have been enthusiastic promoters of boycotts of Jews in Israel:

At all of the Norwegian universities, there have been efforts to enact academic and cultural boycotts of Jewish Israeli academics. This boycott is directed against Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian land—but the occupation that the boycott supporters have in mind is not of the West Bank but rather of Israel itself. Here is the first line of their petition: “Since 1948 the state of Israel has occupied Palestinian land . . .”

The administrations of the universities have refused to go along with this form of collective punishment of all Israeli academics, so the formal demand for a boycott failed. But in practice it exists. Jewish pro-Israel speakers are subject to a de facto boycott.

The first boycott signatory was Trond Andresen, a professor at Trondheim. About Jews, he has written: “There is something immensely self-satisfied and self-centered at the tribal mentality that is so prevalent among Jews. . . . [They] as a whole, are characterized by this mentality. . . . It is no less legitimate to say such a thing about Jews in 2008-2009 than it was to make the same point about the Germans around 1938.”

This line of talk—directed at Jews, not Israel—is apparently acceptable among many in Norway’s elite. Consider former Prime Minister Kare Willock’s reaction to President Obama’s selection of Rahm Emanuel as his first chief of staff: “It does not look too promising, he has chosen a chief of staff who is Jewish.” Mr. Willock didn’t know anything about Mr. Emanuel’s views—he based his criticism on the sole fact that Mr. Emanuel is a Jew. Perhaps unsurprisingly, fewer than 1,000 Jews live in Norway today.

Professor Dershowitz’s account stung Trond Andresen, who took to the pages of Aftenposten [and now, the Wall Streeet Journal], to deny the charge. Let’s see how well he did:

The quote that [Alan M. Dershowitz] used from me included two distinct fragments that were taken out of context, from a post I wrote during Israel’s Gaza bombing.

Verdict: An excellent start. The antisemitic quotation is said to be “out of context”. The link of the Gaza war provides the correct, exculpatory “context”.

But such criticism is – whether correct or not – taboo. It is met with shouting “anti-Semitism.” But I have no racist attitudes towards Jews, and reject such a label.

Verdict: Another classic! Jews use antisemitism to silence critics of Israel. To object to antisemitism is therefore an expression of cynical dishonesty.

Let me use another group, the Muslims, as an example. …

Verdict: Slam Dunk! Bring in the Muslims! For where you discuss Jews, it is imperative that Muslims are also mentioned.

My assessment is shared by many Jewish dissidents, such as the late Israel Shahak (survivor of Bergen-Belsen), who wrote books on the subject. And writer and musician Gilad Atzmon. None of us are racists!

Verdict: What a pity – and it was going so well. Let’s put to one side Shahak and his invented Telephone incident. It is now clear that Trond Andresen is a man who believes that Atzmon’s views are not racist. Let’s list a few of those views:

  • The Jews first declared war on Nazi Germany
  • Burning down a synagogue is a rational act
  • The Protocols of the Elders of Zion accurately and prophetically represent a Jewish world conspiracy
  • Jews are driving our planet into a catastrophe
  • Jews caused the credit crunch
  • Israel is worse than the Nazis
  • Holocaust deniers are engaged in a praiseworthy enterprise

If Andresen believes that this is not antisemitism, then he is clearly an antisemite.

Israel is heading for the cliff with its policies today. Self-reflection in the global Jewish community can help to change course. Therefore, such criticism is useful for the Jews themselves.

He’s doing it for the sake of the Jews? Ach, but for Atzmon, we’d almost have bought that.


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