“When war rages, civilians are made mute. Erik Fosse and Mads Gilbert were in Gaza as doctors in January 2009. They also told of what they saw. It was not their duty, but their responsibility. When military might fences out all voices the few that get through become extra strong and important.” – Jonas Gahr Støre.
Norway’s Foreign Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, has come under heavy fire from central Israeli politicians and Jewish organisations, after endorsing a controversial book that accuses Israel’s military for having committed a systematic massacre during their action in Gaza last year.
Danny Ayalon, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Støre’s back-cover praise Mads Gilbert’s and Erik Fosse’s “Eyes in Gaza” is “outrageous and borders on incitement made up of fabrication and lies.”
He added that he found it problematic that a representative of a democratic government is praising such things.
Whilst the president of the European Jewish Congress, Dr. Moshe Kantor, viewed Store’s backing of "slanted and baseless libel" to be deeply disappointing.
"Norway, which I hope will continue to live far away from terrorism, needs to know that such statements feed and assist the terrorists."
Bjørn Svennungsen, on-duty press officer at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tells Aftenposten that Støre’s aim was purely to thank them for carrying out their humanitarian efforts whilst they were there.
“Støre has underlined on repeated occasions that Fosse’s and Gilbert’s version is just one of several, but that this conflict has many sides to it.”
But the Christian Democratic Party’s (KrF) representative for Oslo and leader of the organisation Israels Venner (Friends of Israel), Hans Olav Syversen, believes Støre has shot himself in the foot, however.
“This is a strongly anti-Israel book, but he has chosen to write this type of postscript anyway. He must be prepared for that someone will deem his opinion will be to be the same as both Gilbert’s and Fosse’s.”
The book has been given the thumbs-up by five Norwegian reviewers – including one of Norway’s ex Conservative Prime Ministers, Kåre Willoch (H) – but was denounced today by a diplomatic source at the Israeli Embassy in Oslo.
“The doctors’ book is an anti-Israeli pamphlet aiming to demonise Israel and to mislead the Norwegian readers. The book represents one of the lowest points in Scandinavian publication,” the source tells The Foreigner.