Paris, 26 October 2009
In a letter to Norwegian Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr Shimon Samuels, deplored "a new stage in Norwegian incitement to Jew-hatred, the outrageously anti-Israel bigotry of the Middle East seminar at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim."
Samuels continued, "The virus of antisemitism in Norway's media, unions, NGOs and even government circles is now infecting academia. NTNU has deformed free and open scholarly discourse based upon mutual respect into a campaign of hate propaganda, led by masters of disinformation who exploit their academic credentials to call for boycott of their colleagues who happen to be Israeli. Most disturbing is the role of NTNU's Rector, Torbjorn Digernes, who has declared his support for this campaign."
The letter noted that, "as membership of the NTNU Student Union (SIT) is obligatory, any classroom dissident is repressed. Never since Quisling has there been such academic prejudice in Norway, and never since Hitler has any University Rector in Europe granted it his personal blessing."
Samuels pointed to Norway's "obligations, as a State Party to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to combat all forms of antisemitism under the Berlin Declaration of 2004 – a document which includes the singling out of Israel as a contributing factor to the scourge of Jew-hatred."
He added, "It is ironic that, as a democracy and a major donor country to the United Nations and other international programmes, Norway persistently takes positions regarding Israel – a fellow democracy - that harm every hope for peace in the Middle East and alienate world Jewish opinion."
The Centre urged the Prime Minister "to investigate the growing epidemic of antisemitism in your country, and to begin root canal treatment with a condemnation of the Rector of NTNU and its campaign to disestablish Jewish self-determination."
The letter was shared with Ms Marit Arnstad, both in her capacity as Chair of the NTNU Board and as Deputy Chair of StatoilHydro; Prof Juan Ramon de la Fuente, President of the UNESCO-affiliated International Association of Universities (IAU); and OSCE Secretary-General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut.