Jostein Gaardner, an internationally known Norwegian writer, came out last week with an anti-Israel, anti-Jewish piece titled "The Chosen People". (You can read about it on the Norwegian News blog).
The piece started off a storm in Norway and caused Gaardner to come out with an explanation, saying he was very insulted to be called an anti-Semite. Aftenposten published several articles on the topic in English:
Injured and threatened, Frightened by reactions, Hate mail and dialogue, Clumsy fall in familiar trap and I wrote out of disgust for the war.
[Please note that despite Gaardner being the one injured, threatened and frightened, the people getting the hate mail are the Jewish community.]
Now, this same peace which has caused such an uproar, is flaunted by one of Norway's Arab writers as a hope for peace. The writer, Walid al-Kubaisi, had supported freedom of the press during the Mohammed cartoon affair, and for that he should be commended. However, I wonder how many Norwegian articles that came out then apologizing for Norway and its press, did he bother to translate and send to the Arab world. Wouldn't that have made more an impact for peace? Wouldn't that have showed more that Norway cares about what Muslims feel? Apparently, one anti-Israel piece is worth it all.
Author Walid al-Kubaisi calls Jostein Gaarder's highly controversial critique of Israel "a gleam of light for the Arab world", and has sent an Arabic translation to at least 40 Arab newspapers and web sites.
Walid al-Kubaisi has been a prominent writer in Norway, and has expressed his opposition to fundamentalist Islam on several occasions. Now he strongly supports Jostein Gaarder's provocative attack on recent Israeli actions in the Middle East, and has sent a translation to leading Arab culture desks.
"I contacted Gaarder for permission, but received no answer. After finding an extremely inaccurate translation on a web site I felt compelled to send out my translation. I have sent it to countries like Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and all leading cultural editors," al-Kubaisi said.
"This is big news, for Arabs, that an intellectual from Norway weeps for their suffering. It is important that it becomes known, and that one learns that it is the man who wrote "Sophie's World" that writes this. It is powerful that Gaarder's article is written in a Lutheran society. It is as strange to people as a flying saucer on Karl Johan (Oslo's main avenue)," al-Kubaisi said.
Al-Kubaisi said that he has spoken to many intellectuals that support Gaarder but feel that the time is not right to say the same.
"Some time in the future Norwegians will say: Why did we react so strongly to Gaarder? I do not support Hezbollah. For the same reason I cannot support Israel. To kill children is a criminal act. How can the world accept what is happening? As a humanist I feel honored to read a Norwegian humanist who distances himself from the concept of God's chosen people. It is racist to claim that some are chosen, it means that God has rejected the rest," al-Kubaisi said.
Al-Kubaisi feels that Gaarder has criticized both Hezbollah and Hamas in the piece as well. He does not expect trouble for helping publish the piece in the Arab world, arguing that it would be published anyway, sooner or later.
Al-Kubaisi believes that Gaarder will receive respect in the Arab world and that Norway should take advantage of this.
"I say to (Foreign Minister) Jonas Gahr Støre, this is a good starting point for dialogue and peace efforts with the Arab world. So don't ignore this, please. Especially now with the terror attempt in London, it is very important. With Gaarder we can create a new history," al-Kubaisi said.
Source: Aftenposten (English)