Paris, 22 June 2010

In a letter to Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr.Shimon Samuels, noted that “this weekend, 20 June, marked ‘International Refugee Day’ to celebrate the contribution made by refugees and migrants to their host countries and also the injustices they face”. 

He quoted the United for Intercultural Action Special Report for the occasion, entitled “‘13,824 Deaths: Blood on European Hands’ – a litany including 286 drownings and harrowing stories at detention facilities across the continent”. 

The letter pointed to “Norway – the country of the Nobel Peace Prize and donor of huge subsidies to ostensible human rights defence agencies – as strangely silent regarding atrocities visited on defenceless refugees in Europe”, adding,  “yet tomorrow, 23 June, the University of Oslo intends to vote on a full academic boycott of Israeli institutions of Higher Education”. 

Samuels suggested that “among your academics, trade unionists and much of your media, are some who may be suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)”, continuing, “this is a national defence mechanism, in response to pangs of guilt for the deportation of Norwegian Jews – what I would call “the Quisling syndrome” for the Nazi-collaborator who ruled your country during the Holocaust. This has led to a default fixation upon the Jewish survivor state”. 

The letter informed that “through a role reversal - by demonizing the contemporary Jew as perpetrator – Norwegian collective memory may achieve a catharsis. So much simpler and cleaner than confronting the deaths of 13,824 refugees on European soil or in international waters flowing near the coast of Norway and its neighbours”. 

The Centre stressed that “should Oslo University choose to expiate its hard-to-find conscience by isolating Israeli scholars, it will have diminished its own reputation for independent scholarship, conducted a collective punishment and breached European anti-discrimination provisions, based upon religious, ethnic or national origins. The University may, arguably, thus expose itself to legal counter-measures”. 

“Above all, Norway will have demonstrated its priorities in human rights concerns, while 13,824 refugees - and counting - die on your very doorstep. We urge you to invoke your moral standing and honour to readjust these priorities and to see this mischievous Motion withdrawn definitively”, concluded Samuels.