The Israeli ambassador in Stockholm, Isaac Bachman, speaking to Swedish government radio Tuesday, compared Israel’s release of 26 Palestinian prisoners to releasing right-wing extremist Anders Breivik, who was responsible for the massacres on the Norwegian island of Utøya in 2011….
The ambassador’s remarks have caused a storm in Sweden, and have garnered harsh criticism from the families of Breivik’s victims.
According to the Swedish English-language news website TheLocal.se, both survivors of Breivik’s massacre and family members of the victims have expressed outrage over the Israeli ambassador’s comments.
“I think it is ridiculous to compare this with a mass murderer from Norway,” Trond Blattmann, whose son Torjusdatter was killed when Breivik opened fire on Utøya, told The Local. “There’s no similarity at all. This is a ridiculous way to talk.”
Bjørn Ihler, who survived the massacre by hiding from Breivik, also said that the comparison “does not make sense.”
“Breivik was a solo terrorist whose actions were based purely on an unreal situation. The situation in the Middle East is very different. There is a real fight for Palestinian freedom going on,” said Ihler.
Here are some of the “freedom fighters” that Israel released:
Abu-Musa Salam Ali Atia of Fatah murdered a construction site colleague, Holocaust survivor Isaac Rotenberg, in 1994, repeatedly striking the 67-year-old in the neck…. Ra’ai Ibrahim Salam Ali attacked 79-year-old Moris Eisenstatt while the elderly man was reading a book on the beach, striking the victim in the head repeatedly with an ax…. Ramahi Salah Abdallah Faraj axed 84-year-old Avraham Kinstler to death in 1992 after Kinstler arrived to work at his orchard… Salah Ibrahim Ahmad Mugdad killed 72-year-old hotel security guard Israel Tenenbaum in 1993 with blows to the head with a steel rod.
One hopes that the “outraged” Swedes and Norwegians aren’t aware of the prisoners’ crimes. Otherwise, one would be tempted to think that the only thing “ridiculous” about comparing these murderers-for-a-political-cause with Breivik is that the former’s victims were Jews.
UPDATE: It’s possible that some of the outrage (though not from those quoted above) is due to a misunderstanding of the ambassador’s comment. The ambassador wasn’t analogizing releasing the Palestinian terrorists to advance peace talks to releasing Breivik for no reason, he was suggesting that it’s just as painful for Israel to release terrorists who murdered dozens of Israelis as it would be for Norway to release Breivik, for whatever reason.
But what of the argument that the Palestinians committed murder to advance a pressing political cause, but Breivik killed for a cause that largely exists in his own mind? First, this arguably makes Breivik less culpable, because it suggests mental illness. Second, I’m not sure this is a distinction worth making. The Nazis killed to suppress an international Jewish conspiracy that existed only in their own minds. Does that somehow mitigate the crime?
Of course, besides anti-Semitism there is an element on the Scandinavian left as elsewhere who have different moral standards for actions committed by what they see as Third World revolutionaries “of color” and those committed by white Europeans. This hardly is a defense of the outrage, however. And one can’t fully understand this story without noting the extraordinary hostility that exists to Israel in Norway, which has increasingly manifested itself in (or is a result of) outright anti-Semitism.
Also, I should note that finding the analogy inexact or inapt is not the issue here. The issue is why its deemed “ridiculous” and should spark “outrage” to analogize releasing the terrorist murderer of dozens by Norwegians to releasing the terrorist murderers of dozens of Israelis.
FURTHER UPDATE: I never did get around to blogging about this this Norwegian cartoon criticizing religious circumcision, which was condemned as anti-Semitic, when it was a live controversy. FWIW, I thought that particular accusation of anti-Semitism was unfounded.