Photo: Oren Agmon
Oslo (Archive photo)
Photo: Oren Agmon

Norway reprimands Israel envoy for bashing royals

Ambassador to Norway Miryam Shomrat criticizes royal family for failing to express sympathy with Jewish community over Oslo synagogue shooting; country’s foreign minister: Comments unsuitable

Norway reprimanded Israel's ambassador to Oslo on Tuesday after she criticised Norway's royal family for failing to express sympathy with the Jewish community over a shooting at Oslo's synagogue.


Norway's foreign minister called the comments "unsuitable" and even the country's Jewish community distanced itself from them. The royal family in this democratic Scandinavian country is rarely criticised, even by Norwegians.


In an interview with public television aired late on Monday, Ambassador Miryam Shomrat said: "I think a gesture from the royal household to the Jewish community on the eve of the (Jewish) New Year would have been in place anyway, certainly a show of solidarity after the shooting incident would have been in place.


"Forgive me for saying it so openly, but I do think it is a very important gesture which should be taken," she added.


Norwegian police have caught four men suspected of shooting Oslo's only synagogue full of holes during an early morning raid on September 17, in which nobody was hurt.


The incident was the worst in a series of attacks on the Norway's small Jewish community in recent months.


"In the first place an ambassador from another country ought to know that the Royal Family can never respond to such remarks," Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said. "And anyway she should also know that it is the government that expresses the view of the Norwegian authorities.


Gaarder enrages Israelis

"What she is doing is to make criticisms of something that must be interpreted as a lack of sympathy with what happened last week. I think this is an unsuitable remark for an ambassador from another country in Norway."


Anne Sender, leader of the Mosaic Religious Community which owns the synagogue, rushed to distance herself from the ambassador's comments.


"She can of course say what she wants, but she cannot talk on our behalf," Sender told daily Aftenposten. "We would never have dreamed of taking a stand against the royal family."


Norway's King Harald V presides over the country's parliamentary democracy, signing bills into law and hosting foreign heads of state, but rarely comments on current affairs.


Shomrat also slammed former Norwegian Prime Minister Kaare Willoch and Jostein Gaarder, the author of "Sophie's World", a novel and teenagers' guide to philosophy that has sold tens of millions of copies worldwide.


Gaarder enraged Israelis by writing a newspaper column some weeks ago questioning whether Israel had forfeited its right to exist with the war in Lebanon. And Shomrat accused Willoch, a critic of the war, of spreading half-truths.


פרסום ראשון: 09.26.06, 14:23
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