The Norwegian Royal Palace was supposed to present the prestigious Royal Medal of Merit to Trond Ali Linstad, a Norwegian Muslim convert who holds anti-semitic views. The Norwegian Royal Medal of Merit recognizes outstanding service to the community and Norway sought to honor Linstad for his work in the field of immigrant education. As the founder and head of Urtehagen, an Islamic foundation, Linstad operates kindergartens and educational programs for Muslim women. However, the proposition of giving this award to Linstad caused a storm within the Jewish world.

Anti-Defamation League head Abraham Foxman issued a strong condemnation and sent a letter to the Norwegian Ambassador calling upon Norway to rescind the award. According to Foxman, “At best, the disturbing decision to grant Mr. Linstad the award resulted from a failure by the staff involved to fully examine Mr. Linstad’s public statements. At worst, those reviewing Mr. Linstad’s public record have shown great insensitivity to anti-Semitism.” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, asserted, “This shocking award is not only insulting to Jews, but potentially dangerous as well.”

Linstad indeed has a long record of anti-Israel activism. In 2008, he addressed a conference titled “Palestine and the Right of Return.” There, he claimed that he used to live with Palestinian fighters in both Jordan and Lebanon. He was evidently expelled from Jordan due to his activities with Palestinian groups. At this conference, Linstad declared, the Palestinians “are fighting racist oppression, expulsion” and called out for people to boycott Israel. He also claimed that justice came before peace and that fighting comes before justice.

On other occasions, Linstad has uttered worse things that fall into the category of anti-semitism. He views violence against Israel to be legitimate and a “great success.” Linstad has also utilized the jihadist slogan “Kharibat Khaybar,” which calls for violence against Jews. He expressed gratitude to Johan Galtung, a Norwegian advocate of the anti-Semitic forgery, Protocols of the Elders of Zion, asking whether Jews in positions of power used “manipulative and undemocratic methods” to influence world events. He further stated that “every president in the U.S. must adapt to the Jewish lobby,” which he believes determines U.S. foreign policy.

However, despite all of this and the fact that Americans, Israelis, and Norwegians voiced their indignation, Norway was committed to giving Linstad this award until Oslo’s Mayor, Fabian Stang, canceled his participation in the ceremony. According to Mayor Stang, “I usually award the king’s service medals with pleasure, but in this case I evaluated it as problematic.” Thus, thanks to the courageous stand of Mayor Stang, King Herald decided to not award Linstad. Nevertheless, Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, a leading expert on Norwegian anti-semitism, has argued, “This is not the first time King Herald is involved in scandels” that adversely affect Jews.

According to Gerstenfeld, in 2010, the Norwegian Embassy in Damascus sponsored an anti-Israel art exhibition. Anti-semitic cartoons are evidently published routinely within the Norwegian press. In 2007, Fin Graff, a Norwegian cartoonist who drew a picture comparing Ehud Olmert to a Nazis, was knighted by the Norwegian king. According to NGO Monitor, the Norwegian government funds many anti-Israel organizations based in Judea and Samaria, as well as Gaza, some of which make boycott calls against Israel, promote the Stop the Wall Campaign in Norway, and support the Free Gaza movement.

Reported by Rachel Avraham for United With Israel

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