Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Norwegian Media Retaliates Against Author Of Book On Nordic Anti-Semitism (Updated)

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is the author of: Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews. It is a 256 page book that is available for free on the web (PDF).
In the introduction to his book, Dr. Gerstenfeld writes:
...Our research clarifies that in recent years part of the societal elites, particularly in Sweden and Norway, have been responsible for many pioneering efforts to demonize Israel. Prominent among the perpetrators are leading socialist and other leftist politicians, journalists, clergy, and employees of NGOs. This demonization is based on the classic motifs of anti-Semitism, which often also accompany its new mutation of anti-Israelism.

Darker Attitudes

Behind the Nordic countries’ righteous appearance and oft-proclaimed concern for human rights often lurk darker attitudes. This volume’s main purpose is to lift their humanitarian mask as far as Israel and Jews are concerned. This disguise hides many ugly characteristics, including the financing of demonizers of Israel, a false morality, invented moral superiority, and “humanitarian racism.” Such humanitarian racists think—usually without expressing it explicitly, sometimes not even being conscious of it—that only white people can be fully responsible for their actions while nonwhites cannot (or can but only to a limited extent).

...In recent years Aftenposten has published a variety of extreme anti-Semitic cartoons, articles, and letters to the editor. Before World War II it also published anti-Semitic articles. No overview of twenty-first-century West European anti-Semitism can be complete without reference to this paper. The facts presented in this volume about this Norwegian “quality daily” demonstrate how hypocrisy and anti-Semitism converge.

When discussing the more general convergence of these two tendencies during the preparation of this volume, one example seemed to impress my conversation partners in particular. In Norway, Jewish ritual slaughter has been forbidden since well before World War II, under Nazi influence. On the other hand, except for Norway, Japan, and Iceland no countries allow whaling. The Norwegian quota for the 2008 season is the highest, with over one thousand whales to be killed. These mammals are harpooned and die in an exceptionally cruel way. [emphasis added]
Read the book.

Now Norway has struck back at Dr. Mansfeld. He has brought a complaint with the Norwegian Press Authority against the TV2 television station concerning the extreme manipulation of an
interview they did with him. Here is his Press Release:

Press Release

Chairman of Israeli policy research institute submits complaint with Norwegian Press Complaints Commission against Norwegian TV2 for distorted reporting

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, Chairman of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a leading Israeli policy research institute, has submitted a complaint with The Norwegian Press Complaints Commission (Pressens Faglige Utvalg – PFU). Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld claims that, in an interview broadcast on TV 2 on 1 March 2009, his words were deliberately distorted. The TV2 interviewer, Fredrik Graesvik, falsely stated that Gerstenfeld had called the Norwegians 'a barbarian and unintellectual' people. This statement was later published in many Norwegian papers, as well as Swedish ones, and has caused damage to Dr. Gerstenfeld's reputation. The article accompanying the interview on the TV2 website says falsely that Dr. Gerstenfeld considers Norway to be the most anti-Semitic nation in Europe. The Dagen daily of 2 April also quoted additional false text attributed to Dr. Gerstenfeld by Mr. Graesvik. The complaint asks PFU to condemn TV2 and its conduct. and to grant Dr. Gerstenfeld airtime in the form of a live interview in order to correct this matter. This last request has been turned down by TV2.

Please find the text of the complaint below.

Further information may be obtained from Tamas Berzi, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Tel. 972-2-561 9281, or e-mail: phas1@jcpa.org.

27 April 2009
Pressens Faglige Utvalg – PFU
Fax: 0047-22 40 50 55

Dear Sirs:

Re: Complaint Regarding Interview with TV2 on 1 March 2009

After having tried in vain for several weeks to have TV2 grant me a live interview in order to correct the deliberate distortion of my words in an interview broadcast on their station on 1 March 2009, I am hereby addressing this complaint to your organization regarding the conduct of TV2 and its interviewer Mr. Fredrik Graesvik toward me. This behavior is a major breach of journalistic ethics as stated, for instance, in the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists. http://www.spj.org/pdf/ethicscode.pdf

The essence of my complaint is:

1. The interview as broadcast includes a combination of words which were said at different moments in the conversation preceding the interview, relating to issues radically different than what the broadcast suggests. The pictures shown at the same time have no relevance to the issues on which I used either of the expressions which were falsely combined by the interviewer. This interview can still be viewed at http://www.tv2nyhetene.no/utenriks/article2599956.ece. Below it on the TV2 website is a written text which further distorts my words.

In an interview, the interviewer usually asks questions and the interviewee answers. If the interviewer in addition quotes himself the interviewee’s words he should do so correctly. In this specific interview, however, Mr. Graesvik mentions additional words which I said and which context is radically distorted. He says, in Norwegian, as you can hear: “Gerstenfeld lashes out against what he calls ‘barbarian and unintellectual’ people.” This gives the false impression that I consider all Norwegians to be barbarian and unintellectual.

When I complained to Mr. Helland and Mr. Henschien of TV2 (letter of 8 March – attached), Mr. Graesvik answered in a letter of 16 March, writing that in our conversation I used the word “barbarian” in regard to whale hunting. (Mr. Graesvik’s letter is attached.)

He also writes that elsewhere in the conversation I used the word “unintellectual” in describing Norway. In fact we were discussing the reactions to my book Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews. I said that I considered most of the reactions to my book in Norway “unintellectual” compared to those elsewhere on my 13 earlier books published in various languages. (As the book has been sold out in the meantime, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has decided to put it on its website free of charge at http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/showpage.asp?DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=84&FID=726&PID=0)

As to the whaling, page 51 of the book explains why I consider the Norwegian attitude to it as barbarian.

Mr. Graesvik and I spent almost an hour together. It consisted of a conversation which was not recorded and an on-camera interview, which took an estimated 15-20 minutes. Had Mr. Graesvik actually recorded my allegedly calling the Norwegians “barbarians and unintellectual” people, he would surely have put it in the broadcast. He does, however, admit in his letter that he put together the words from different parts of our conversation concerning other subjects than all Norwegians. If such methods of false combination are endorsed by the PFU there is no meaning anymore to the ethics of professional journalism.

To make matters worse, he showed this text against the background of major riots in Norway, which have nothing to do with either whaling or the reactions to my book, to which the expressions used referred.

As a result of this distorted broadcast, I received numerous e-mails from Norwegians to my private address, referring to the never uttered words that “Norwegians are barbarians and unintellectual” Several were hate mails.

The words “barbarian and unintellectual” or “barbarian and unintelligent” were also quoted in my name in at least 15 Norwegian papers and several Swedish papers, including leading ones. This continues till now, the latest being on 11 April in Bergens Tidende http://www.bt.no/meninger/kommentar/stroksnes/article826438.ece?service=print

2. In the web article below the interview on the TV2 website, it says falsely that I consider Norway to be the most anti-Semitic nation in Europe. This is yet another deliberate distortion of what I said. If one listens to the interview one will hear that what I actually say is that “Norway is a pioneer in anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli acts” which is something radically different. (This argument is detailed on page 24 of my above-mentioned book.)

3. Mr. Graesvik has a copy of my book and could have checked my professional background there. In the interview he calls me a professor of political science. I do not teach at any university (I left Amsterdam University in 1964) and my field is not political science. There are other mistakes as well. (See my letter to TV2 of 26 March 2009 – attached).

4. In an article by Mr. John Solsvik in the daily Dagen of 2 April 2009, “Israeler melder TV2 til PFU,” Mr. Graesvik is quoted as saying: ”Graesvik er mest forundret over at Gerstenfeldt ikke reagerer på et mest tabloide utsagnet han kom med helt pålutten:
Det eneste Norge har bidratt med i det internasjonale samfunnet er en gjeng quislinger!”

In Mr. Graesvik’s interview with me on 1 March, I however said something totally different. "There is a long tradition of anti-Semitism. I don’t have to tell you that the only contribution of Norway to political science is the name of Quisling. That is not by chance." This is very different from claiming that Norway’s only contribution to international society is a “gang of Quislings.”

Mr. Graesvik thus radically distorts what I say in English and even TV2’s own article under the video shows that he dramatically misquotes from the interview he himself conducted. There it says: “- Det er ikke tilfeldig at Norges eneste bidrag til internasjonal statsvitenskap er navnet Quisling.” This false quote attributed to me is a statement of a totally different nature than what I actually said.

I later spoke to Mr. Solsvik and he confirmed that Mr. Graesvik told him these words on the phone. Mr. Odd Sverre Hove, the editor-in-chief of Dagen, promised me that the paper would correct the matter in its issue of 4 April. He also said that they had already removed the above sentence from the article on the web: www.dagenmagazinet.no//Nyheter//Samfunn/tabid/248/Default.aspx

However, the fact that Dagen corrected the text does not change the fact that Mr. Graesvik distorted my words. Many of those who read Dagen or those who saw the original text on the website will not have seen the correction. Thus further damage has been caused.

The many press reactions to what was falsely attributed to me and the private e-mails I received show that the deliberate distortions of my statements are causing damage to my reputation. Not only has there been a breach of journalistic ethics by this distortion, but TV2 has taken a very long time to react my complaints. Its conduct is highly unprofessional. Besides the distortion, the many mistakes regarding my professional background illustrate this further. So does the misquoting of my statements in Mr. Graesvik’s remarks to Dagen.

I am enclosing my correspondence with TV2 and their replies. I am available also on the telephone for any further clarification you may require.

I would like to add that I have worked in 20, mainly Western countries, and that I have been interviewed frequently in several languages. But, I have never experienced so much deliberate distortion and misquoting as in the two-minute interview with TV2.

As I have said above, I am addressing your organization with the request to condemn TV2’s deliberate distortion of my words and its further conduct in this matter. I do not know whether it is in PFU’s power to order TV2 to give me live airtime. If it is possible, I ask you to do so.

Please confirm receipt of this letter.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld

Chairman of the Board of Fellows

Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

UPDATE: I received the following from a friend:

To deepen your insights into Norway even further:
The Norwegians continue to do horrible things, such as the royal family being some kind of patrons of the memorial year for the Norwegian Nazi Nobel prize winner Knut Hamsun, who dedicated his prize to Goebbels. The Norwegian government is also making available twenty million dollar for a museum in honor of this dead Nazi.

This was described well in an article earlier this year in the New York Times

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