Israel v. Norway: cartoon wars redux

Here we go again. Israel’s envoy to Norway complains that a cartoon goes “beyond free speech.” What the hell does that mean? Beyond good taste? Beyond acceptable discourse? Beyond what should be permitted in a free society? Where are these lines to be drawn and by whom? Why can’t the offended (Muslim or Israeli) protest offending images without calling for their censorship, either explicitly or (worse, because it is more insidious) implicitly? Maybe this kind of sloppy and censorious speech is worse than hate speech? From BBC News July 26:

Norway ‘Nazi cartoon’ irks Israel
Israel’s ambassador to Norway has complained to press regulators about a cartoon showing Israeli PM Ehud Olmert as a Nazi concentration camp commander.

Miryam Shomrat told the BBC the caricature in Oslo’s Dagbladet newspaper went beyond free speech.

Ms Shomrat said it would be open to prosecution in some European countries.

Dagbladet’s editor said the caricature was “within the bounds of freedom of expression,” according to Norway’s NRK state broadcaster.

Ms Shomrat made the official complaint to the Norwegian Press Trade Committee following the publication of the cartoon on 10 July.

In an interview with the BBC’s Europe Today, she said however that her protest could not be compared to the outcry in the Muslim world over the publication in a Danish newspaper of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

Lars Helle, Dagbladet’s acting editor-in-chief, said the newspaper was taking the complaint seriously.

“But I do not fear that Dagbladet will be found guilty,” Mr Helle told the NRK.

The cartoon shows Mr Olmert standing on a balcony in a prison camp.

He is holding a sniper’s rifle and a dead man is seen lying on the ground.

The drawing clearly alluded to the Hollywood film Schindler’s List, in which a sadistic Nazi commander shoots Jewish prisoners for fun, according to Dagbladet.

See our last posts on the Lebanon crisis and cartoon mishegoss.

  1. “Nazi” Insults Common in Israel
    This 2004 BBC report gives a bit of extra context here:

    Israeli Justice Minister Yosef “Tommy” Lapid stunned Cabinet colleagues on Sunday by saying a picture of an elderly Palestinian woman searching through rubble reminded him of his grandmother…She died in Auschwitz.

    …But while the remark shocked some Israeli politicians, it is actually fairly mild compared to some of the Holocaust-related insults that have been hurled across the Israeli political spectrum in the last decade.

    In the months before Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995, right-wing demonstrators rallied under banners showing him dressed as a Nazi.

    And of course, Palestinians as Nazis is a fairly familiar theme – I once read an article by Netanyahu in which he argued that since Jordan is “really” Palestine, the West Bank Palestinians are just like the Sudetenland Germans who welcomed Hitler.

    I also once heard a guide at Yad Vashem say that Jews marrying non-Jews was the “second Holocaust”.

  2. Get a grip.
    It all startet with the caricature of Mohammed a while back, and now even the jews are making a big deal out of nothing. The war was over 50 years ago, i repeat 50 years ago! Get over it, it’s over.

    It’s notthat anyone likes waht happened to the jews under WW2, but let by gones be by gones.

    I’m from norway my self, and i see violent pictures of Vikings weekly at least, and i have never heard that any Norwegian reacts in the matter of wich the jews and the muslims have recently. The English have the crusades as a dark part of their history, but they don’t declare war with anyone who mentiones it.

    My point is easy. Let it be, and take it for what it is. There is no wonder there still is war in the world when things like these can make nations and indipendent groups reach to arms.

    1. Get a grip yourself, dude
      We were arguing in favor of free speech (in case you didn’t notice), but as a Jew I don’t need to be told by a Norwegian to “let by-gones be by-gones” where the Holocaust is concerned. There may be ugly stereotypes of Vikings in the media from time to time, but they are not generally intended to depict contemporary Norwegians. Nor were Norwegians victims of genocide as the European Jews were, nor are they now victims of imperialist aggression as many contemporary Muslims are. Your country was occupied by the Nazis. Your parents or grandparents presumably lived through that. Ask them if it is a mere “by-gone.”

      1. And what about the innocent
        And what about the innocent people Israel kills in Libanon these days?

        What is the worst ?

        Israel killing 50 – 100 -maybe even thousands of people
        or a Norwegian newspaper posting a picture

        AGAIN : GET A GRIP

        (written in about 1 minute)

      2. lebanese Holocaust
        There is no such thing as “let by-gones be by-gones”, Holocaust will always be remembered, at least by my generation. But please, Israel, don’t use the terrible things that happened to jews during world war 2 as an excuse to behave just like the leaders of “das dritte Reich”, towards the lebanese people. To kill innocent people is always detestable, regardless of the organisation performing the act. If you don’t see that, I feel sorry for you.

      3. Why don’t we all get a grip?
        It’s true what you say Bill, history must be remembered. I think that we should remember the past so we don’t commit the same horrible mistakes ourselves, and that is the reason i wonder why the israeli government havent just sat down and thorougly thought through their actions. Because their warfare against the Palestinians is frighteningly similar to the acts commited against their own people.
        In short, the Israeli are harassing the Palestinians in ways similar to the treatment the jews recieved by the nazi government and the german army.

        And some jews justify the invasion of Palestine settlements with these gruesome acts that were commited during world war II.

        I believe that Viking is trying to say that some israeli individuals have a tendency to focus the holocaust every time they are criticised and cry out “anti- semitism” to gain sympathy for their cause.

        But hey! The original topic was free speech wasen’t it? Well, as I mentioned above, some individuals try to inspire guilt and empathy, and I think thats what the Israeli ambassador is trying to do now, she tries to label the critisism against the war as “anti semittic” to scare people into silence, she says that the cartoon is disrespectfull and dishonoring for the victims of holocaust, I say that Israels aggressive acts on Palestine are disrespectfull to these vitcims because some, maybe a lot of jews seem to honor the victims by terrorizing another people as they themselves were once terrorized, and I do not think that this conflict will resolve itself unless the Israeli government will accept criticism and be open for a dialouge.

      4. Anti-Israel = Anti-semitism?
        Far too often do I get the impression that being opposed to israeli politics is the same as bing anti-semitic. It has become too easy for the counterpart of such discussions to claim racism or anti-semitism to those that oppose Israel. Clearly Israel is a jewish state, but their politics should not be confused with religion, – by either side!
        Being critical of current Israeli politics have nothing to do with anti-semitism and should not be treated like it is either.

      5. What i dont get
        “as a Jew” those this sentence absolve you from everything not consistent with “human” behavior? Can you use this “freecard” everytime someone criticize your state? “OMG, somone portraid the israelie PM as a nazi camp comander, stop this at once! We do not like to be reminded that what we do with the pelestineans is “almost” the same as “we” suffered during the WWII. Please remember the conenctration camps in WWII, we can do what “we” want beacuse of that surly, the rest of the world just shut up!” Did you experince the camps during WWII(cuase i surly hope you did with that kind of “WE SUFFERED” statement, please do not use other peoples suffering as an excuse to yourself, my people sufferd therefor i suffered..) ? I just HATE the “omg remener WWII!” card alot of jews pull out when the world opinion goies against them, did you not learn a thing? No, extermination of the jews was not a good thing, it waws one of the darkest episodes in history, but do you realy think that makes the jewish state elligable to do the same to the palestiniaen people? AND to the “in favor of free speech”, yup that drawing is a political stament in norway, it does not “attack” jews in general, it makes a statement to the fact that teh isralie state is puttin gup a great big effin walll around a small area containg a million people, and then starts to fire missiles and boms into the same area, real nice.. Learn from your past and do no let it happen again my ass, you fucking hypocrits…

        1. First off let me say learn
          First off let me say learn how to correctly spell. Secondly how dare you ever compare 6 million jewish deaths to a meager lets say 2,000 and thats a guess but probably correct. Out of 2,000 I would say 800 are terrorists. And what about the other 1,200 why so many civilian deaths the world shames Isreal for this. And yet fails to mention why there as so many civilian deaths in Palestine and in Lebanon. Why so many deaths? I’ll tell you why it’s because these groups like hamas and hezbollah purposelly place there head-quarters and other strategic sites in the midst of residential and commercial places where civilians live and work. You sir are pathetic in comparing 6 Million to nothing

      6. get a grip
        as a comment, im a norwegian and a christian. being a jew for it self does not command the right to do whatever you want. murder is murder. We come from a society that deems peace and respect as an virtue. We come a long way from the viking mentality.
        Sorry u and your country hasnt come this, holocaust and all.
        And thats the point, u cant abuse a historical fact that appeared 50
        years ago. Yes, jews suffered, sustained and fought, but that is no excuse why u should force that pain on your neighbours.

      7. Well spoken, concerning the
        Well spoken, concerning the post you replied to (I’m also Norwegian).

        Today’s complaints against newspapers like Dagbladet and VG are unfair. In Norway (and everywhere else) it should be possible to front reasoned critisism of Israel without automatically being accused of anti-semitism. That is, unfortunately, what happens today.

      8. LOL
        The norwegian Jews faced the same thing as the European Jews did.
        you cant just see the numbers of Norwegian Jews that got affected but you gotta see the % of Jews in Norway and compare.

        So stop with the “im more hurt than u are” act.

        Should i and the other Jews in Norway now start a campaign against you since you are publicly writing nonsens?
        Or is maybe this also another case of freedom of speech?

        And yes we was occupied by the germans, but u dont see me hating all the german tourists in Norway.
        You cant change the past, but you can try to make the future better,
        and bullshit like your writing aint helping.

      9. dudes…
        let’s all “get a grip” here…
        OK, this is about free speech:
        The ONLY conclusion here is that the caricature is utterly tasteless. Obvioulsy. But it does not warrant calling for censorship. People calling for censorship because of caricatures are destroying their own cause.

      10. You obviously have a problem
        You obviously have a problem seperating the term race from nationality. Jews were victims of the Holocaust but Norwegians weren’t? Ever heard of norwegian jews? No? Maybe because most of them didn’t survive the camps either.

        Very few is asking jews today to forgive what the nazis did. What a lot of people are asking is that jews today stop pretending they still are victims deserving sympathy and “free tickets” to act irrationally. Just like african-americans today are NOT the victims of slavetrade and post-WWII generations of germans are NOT nazis, the same applies to modern jews; they are NOT all victims of Holocaust. Did they lose family during the war? So did tens of millions of other Europeans. Very few of them have forgiven the nazis, but most of them don’t whine about it everytime things don’t go their way.


        You don’t call a nazi occupation an act of imperialistic aggression? Interesting.

      11. Two of my grandparents were
        Two of my grandparents were shot by them. Does that count? Do I get to say that the caricatures are an overreaction? I mean.. after all, – There’s a nazi-inflicted death in MY Norwegian background, if we’re dealing with qualifiers.

        Or would that sort of kill your argument? If you’re going to argue at all, argue on merit, not the victim card. 6 million people is an incomprehensible amount of deaths. I don’t think anyone is ignoring that. But if your country goes to war with another, comments and reactions will occur – and should they occur, in a foreign newspaper, they don’t need any blessing from the Israeli government to express their points of view.
        Neither do we need Shomrat to tell us what is acceptable or not in our own media. We didn’t do that to the Jerusalem Post a few years back when y’all were ticked at Norway and were boycotting us.

        Please – do let me know whether my response is qualified enough for you – I don’t know how much else you need or need not be told by someone such as myself, or what you can tolerate from some shiksa like me.

        Shabbat Shalom


      12. Bah
        You clearly do not know anything about our people’s history. Unarmored Norwegians were brutally slaughtered and forcibly converted to Christianity under torture by an army sent by the Emperor Otto III of Rome, a descendant of Judah ben Ahunai. This was done in order to exterminate people of non-Christian faiths. This is a historically proven fact. The Holocaust is not, it has no basis in reality. Censorship and raging fits do not count as proof and “trials” where only the prosecution is allowed to present their “evidence” and where the so-called witnesses testify under torture and threats do not either. Prophecies in the Talmud are not proof. Every time you censor, you prove to the world that you have something to hide, that you are lying. You go as far as infiltrating other people’s resistance movements and censoring from within. That is what I call genocide. You are denying Europeans the right to live in peace within our ancestral homelands. One quick example is the Union des étudiants juifs de France, which shaped the political climate for a massive Arab immigration into Europe with the sole purpose of displacing the native people and causing conflicts. Through these kinds of troublemaker gangs you support so-called minorities in Norway from countries with populations of more than 150 million and help them expand at the expense of Norwegians who count less than 5 million! To say that we have not been and are not victims of genocide, is a statement of such character that I don’t have words to describe it. I believe you have one, though. This is what you call chutzpah, I presume?

        And why do you feel that it is more ethical to insult our dead forefathers than living persons? In fact, insults to living persons, especially women, are just as abundant in the press. I find the blonde jokes in your media deeply offensive as do I the thousands of negative characteristics of Norwegians and other European people given in articles, letters and editorials. Just recently I read that the Jerusalem post “feels sorry for our inferior intellect and low self esteem” and that “Norway is not exactly known for its brilliance”, and that “Norwegians are very muslim-friendly”. If the editor of Jerusalem post would come here and make those statements in the presence of Norwegians, I expect that he would quickly get holocausted in his nose. This comes from the same people that would scream racism as loud as they could if the government here (who is led by a Jewish prime minister, by the way) were to ban all muslim immigration.

        As for WW2: Had Germany not stepped in with their military presence in Norway, England would certainly have invaded as English warships were moving rapidly towards the Norwegian coast and had already trespassed the border contrary to repeated warnings from the government. I dare not contemplate the brutal fate we would have had to endure if that had been allowed to happen. Germany felt forced to move in, as having English fleets in Norway would constitute a high level of threat to the European mainland. Remember that England was the aggressor in this war and had started it under pressure from Jewish lobbyists and for completely fraudulent reasons. Unfortunately there was some political confusion here due to the massive bombardment with English propaganda and the indecisiveness of the far left government in charge at the time which was strongly in support of the Soviet Union, something which led them to ally with Britain. This caused many unnecessary misunderstandings because people were given inaccurate information about the circumstances of the situation. Nevertheless, Norwegians had a standard of living that was much higher than the norm for people in territory occupied by a foreign power, such as during the gruesome Muslim conquests throughout the world. After the war, the treatment of German civilians by England and Russia was particularly cruel and brutal. Women were raped in large numbers and their children and husbands were murdered.

      13. What the *uc*
        Fact is that norwegian jews and norweigans all over was sent to some of those camps. My doctor as a child was in Auswitch amongst other camps.
        He said we shouldn’t forget, but forgive.

        The question is should you be able to say what you want or shall we all shut up. There’s always someone that won’t like what we’re saying. Everyone has a dark past in their history. So what? Going nuts, because someone mentions this is good for Bush and his friends. Just another way to get full control over the working masses.

        If we can’t use drawings, art, movies and so on to put a point to a case? Then i fear greatly for humankind. Remember what happened when “Life of Brian” came out? And now “Da Vici” or “Passion of christ”?

        And just for your info Bill. Wearing viking jewellry in Norway automatically places you either far far out on the right side or in a bikergang. Here it’s gone to the point that national pride = nationalism and nazi sympatizing. Vikings wasn’t politically correct, than god for that.

    2. Moron
      I’m a Norwegian myself, and your comment is ridiculous. The Vikings were the oppressors, so what you are saying does not make any sense what-so-ever. Also, don’t tell Jews how they should feel about their terrible past.

      However, I would like to say that some Jews are way too quick calling any sort of criticism for anti-semitism, regardless of whether the criticism is valid or not.

      Lastly, Freedom of Speech is not something you can turn off and on – just because it suits ones political or religious purpose..

  3. About the Norwegian Drawing
    For those who do not know…
    The drawing is based on statements from members of “doctors without borders” who is treating Palestinian kids for gunshot-wounds from israeli snipers. The doctors stated that there was surprisingly many center-hit headshots, and that it probably should be checked out if it is kind of exessive force to blow a 12 year old kids brains out for throwing rocks…

  4. How about..
    ..seeing this cartoon in a somewhat different light?

    First, let me thank you for your short, consise and to-the-point commentary on the issue. You managed to ask the questions that have been spinning in my head for a while; I’ve just not been able to get them out in a coherent manner.

    Now to the case at hand:

    I’ve seen lots of references to the “cartoon wars” of a few months ago, and while I *also* support the publication of those (man, do I have a lot to say about that, but I’ll hold my tongue here), I think they were, in a way, more criticizeable than the current cartoon from Dagbladet. Why, you ask? Because this one depicts one person. One live, named and very specific person.
    The commentary is more about him and his – presumed – lunacy, than it is about israelis in general. At a stretch, it’s about him and his fellow members of government, where he obviously has support for his views. However, a point that is made time and again in (written and drawn) commentaries here in Norway, is that Ehud Olmert is no military person, and therefore toys with his army like a child would toy with a gun – not knowing, or wanting to know, what kind of damage it can do!

    Thanks again,

    1. “Not a military person”
      It should be pointed out that when it’s mentioned Olmert and Peretz don’t have career military backgrounds, they did serve, both with distinction, and were wounded. They simply didn’t spend their careers in the army, unlike most Israeli politicians that reach these posts. There is a degree to which the Israeli government is more like a military junta in that former generals are usually running it, and security officials seem to make policy. In this case, their lack of military background may be compelling Olmert and Peretz to “prove their chops” by being overly macho, and they approved the security establishment’s plans for dealing with Gaza and Lebanon w/carte blanche. Peretz, who rose politically in the ranks of Peace Now protesting the first Lebanon war, is now called a murderer by anti-war protesters in Israel, said at the beginning of the aggression on Lebanon, “they will remember the name Amir Peretz.” Olmert is trying to prove his hawkishness because he has based his policy on unilateralism, locking Palestinians in walled enclaves in which Palestinians are often shot without provocation with little or no reprecussion — they can even be shot by remote-control machine guns mounted in the wall. Like Amnon Geith, the Nazi commandant Olmert is made to represent in the cartoon, Israeli soldiers frequently shoot children for fun. There is a culture of impunity within the Israeli military:

      Since the beginning of the al-Aqsa intifada, Israel has continuously violated the laws of warfare, primarily during its massive incursions into Palestinian cities. These violations include, inter alia, indiscriminate firing that has caused injury to bystanders, use of ammunition and means of warfare that are incapable of sufficiently distinguishing between persons taking part in the hostilities and those who are not, and extensive destruction of houses and other property, in violation of the principle of proportionality.

      The change in classification to that of war has also led to a change in Israeli policy on investigating the killing of Palestinian civilians by IDF soldiers. Prior to the al-Aqsa intifada, the Judge Advocate General’s Office automatically ordered the Military Police to investigate every case in which a Palestinian civilian was killed by IDF soldiers. Relying on its categorization of the situation in the Occupied Territories as one of war, in which innocent people are killed, the policy changed. Now, the JAG’s Office orders a Military Police investigations only in exceptional cases. A very small percentage of cases in which Palestinians were killed have been investigated. Furthermore, indictments have been filed in a minority of the cases in which a Military Police investigation was conducted. This new policy sends a message to soldiers that Palestinian lives are cheap, and creates an atmosphere of immunity from prosecution.“target=”_new”

      The world has done nothing to restrain Israel; see this recent comment by Olmert’s aide:

      The aide added that the realignment concept is gathering momentum also due to the international community’s reaction to operation “Summer Rains

  5. Is Olmert a Nazi ?
    I think not, but he’s obviously a fox, which of cause is called a fox because of it’s ‘foxy’ appearance.

    Question then is: Are you a nazi because of your nazi appearance?

    1. Ofcourse he’s no nazi! It’s
      Ofcourse he’s no nazi! It’s the STATE of Israel’s ways that are being compared to those of the filthy nazis. The way Israeli planes break the barrier of sound each night over Palestine just to scare its citizens. The building of a wall of shame, segregation of the worst kind.

      Hezballah on the other side, are a bunch of creeps – NO better in this conflict than the state of Israel. BUT; what is upsetting to people who view this conflict from outside, say for example Norway – is that Israel have the upper hand when it comes to military power, and that it seems that they use it in a rather bad way, as hundreds of civilians are the ones who have to pay at the end of the day.

      Another thing that peolpe around the world remember, is that Israels former leader, Sharon – was in fact responsible for crimes of war, slaughtering several peolpe during his years in the service.

      Both sides have lost their heads – and the world is fed up with socalled holy wars. There is nothing holy about any war. Life is holy!

      I blame religion – mans sad attempt to understand things he is not capable of understanding. Sad but true.