Home > Diplomacy, Freedom of the Press, Suppression of Dissent > Danny Ayalon to Norway: Why can’t you keep your artists under control?

Danny Ayalon to Norway: Why can’t you keep your artists under control?

Ayalon

The Israeli government reaction to the homegrown cultural boycott of the West Bank settlement of Ariel was forceful and blunt: Threaten funding, establish a “Zionist Art Prize” and de-legitimize whoever takes part as fifth-columnists. This should not have been a surprise, coming from a government that has overseen an unprecedented assault on domestic freedom of expression and association. The campaign has been so successful locally that the Foreign Ministry is now trying it on the international stage.

Here’s how the Israeli Embassy in Santiago dealt with reporting about a Chilean tourist beaten half to death in Jerusalem because he resembled a Palestinian:

“The incident has been blown up here out of all proportion also by members of parliament of Palestinian extraction who took advantage of it to accuse Israel of racism after it was reported that he might have been attacked because of an Arab appearence,” [Ambassador David] Dadon told Haaretz yesterday [November 10 2010]. “Following our swift and tough response, the matter was immediately removed from the media’s agenda.”

Deputy Minister Danny Ayalon expects foreign governments to adopt the Israeli standard in its entirety, at least on all things Palestinian. This morning’s [November 15 2010] Yediot reports [full translation at bottom of post; Hebrew original here]:

A severe diplomatic crisis has erupted between Israel and the Norwegian authorities. Israel has accused the Norwegian government of financing and promoting blatant anti-Israel incitement.

The article then lists a series of of Norwegian of cultural projects funded by the Norwegian government that the Foreign Ministry doesn’t like. This has been going on for a while. What brought on the “severe diplomatic crisis”? Hutzpah, apparently. Not only did the Norwegians refuse the Israeli dictate, they had the gall to cite democratic principles:

The Norwegians informed Israel in response that this was a matter of freedom of speech and that the government did not meddle in artistic content.

One can hardly blame the Deputy Minister. In Israel, suppression of information and opinions at odds with government policy has become normative. Ayalon probably thought the Norwegians were sandbagging him.

Apparently, the trigger for the Israeli diplomatic assault was this sinister piece of propaganda:

According to reports that have reached the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, the city of Trondheim, Norway, is paying for a trip to New York by a group of high school pupils who are taking part in a play called Gaza Monologues. The play deals with “the suffering of children in Palestine as a result of the Israeli occupation.” The play, which was written by a Palestinian man from Gaza, will be performed in the UN building.

The play’s website lists EED, Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst — Church Development Service, a government-funded association of the Protestant Churches in Germany. The government of Germany is also directly involved in funding the play through DED, the German development service. If Israel’s ire in the case of Norway was sparked by a municipality sponsoring a few kids trip to New York, what can the Germans expect when Ayalon’s staffers discover that the federal government is behind the play?

—-

Israel accuses Norway of inciting against Israel

Itamar Eichner, Yediot, November 15 2010 [Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]

A severe diplomatic crisis has erupted between Israel and the Norwegian authorities. Israel has accused the Norwegian government of financing and promoting blatant anti-Israel incitement.

According to reports that have reached the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, the city of Trondheim, Norway, is paying for a trip to New York by a group of high school pupils who are taking part in a play called Gaza Monologues. The play deals with “the suffering of children in Palestine as a result of the Israeli occupation.” The play, which was written by a Palestinian man from Gaza, will be performed in the UN building.

This play comes in the wake of a Norwegian artist who was sent to Damascus, Beirut and Amman with the help of the Norwegian embassies in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. His work includes exhibits of dead Palestinian babies alongside of IDF helmets, which look like Nazi soldier helmets, and an Israeli flag that is drenched in blood.

The Norwegians are also helping to finance the distribution of a documentary film called “Tears of Gaza” to festivals around the world. The film deals with — what else? — the suffering of the children of Gaza, without mentioning in a single word Hamas, the rockets on Sderot or Israel’s right to self-defense. The film shows Gazan residents calling out, “itbah al-Yahud.” The translation into Norwegian reads, “slaughter the Israelis,” not the Jews.

A book that was written by the two Norwegian doctors who were the only foreigners in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead to give interviews in which they accused the IDF of deliberately killing women and children was recently published. The jacket of the book, which has been very successful in Norway, is signed by none other than Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store, who recommends the book warmly.

The Israeli embassy in Norway submitted a vehement protest to the Norwegian authorities for assisting in demonizing Israel. A senior Israeli political official said last night: “The stated and formal Norwegian policy talks about understanding and reconciliation. However, ever since the war in Gaza Norway has turned into a superpower insofar as pertains to the export of multimedia in the service of Israel’s delegitimization in the world — while using Norwegian tax-payers’ money to produce and transport this multimedia.”

In the course of a meeting with Norwegian Members of Parliament, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said: “This kind of activity distances the possibility of reconciliation and encourages the Palestinians to adopt more extremist positions in a way that prevents them from compromising.”

The Norwegians informed Israel in response that this was a matter of freedom of speech and that the government did not meddle in artistic content.

  1. Paul
    November 20, 2010 at 00:57

    How dare those uppity Norwegians be so insolent towards their Chosen superiors!

  2. Psilly
    November 23, 2010 at 17:18

    The film “Tears of Gaza” has been discussed a lot in the comments section of various major Norwegian newspapers, and some reporting has been done on that movie. This piece of news has yet to reach the mainstream here in Norway.

  1. November 17, 2010 at 14:41
  2. November 20, 2010 at 05:05

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