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Right-wing Israelis find little sympathy for Norway after tragedy

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TEL AVIV // A few Israelis who shared their feelings on websites are expressing anything but sympathy for the killing of at least 76 mostly young people in Norway.

Postings on Hebrew websites suggest Friday's attacks have reawakened hostility among some Israelis towards what they view as Norway's pro-Palestinian approach to the peace process.

Such sentiments may have also been prompted by the fact that the confessed perpetrator in the attack appears to have espoused anti-Muslim sentiments and a pro-Zionist philosophy.

One person, who identified himself as Yuval, wrote on the popular Ynet news website: "Now they understand what political terrorism is. We should explain to them that the Palestinians are doing this to us for several decades already."

Another reader who called himself Yossi wrote on the same website that "it's no wonder that someone got fed up with the fact that Muslims are filling up the streets in Europe".

Another responder named Erez, who commented on a report stating that some of the campers had called for boycotting Israel just two days before the attack, said he "did not shed one tear over the killings".

He added that the "shooter should sit in jail for what he did … but we should thank him for leaving us with fewer anti-Semitic Israel-haters in the world".

Several analysts said such reactions may be the expression of hostility of extremist Jewish settlers living in the Israeli-occupied West Bank towards Arabs and Muslims.

Michael Warschawski, the founder of the Jerusalem-based Alternative Information Centre, a joint Israeli-Palestinian activist group promoting Palestinian rights, said: "For these settlers, the world is divided into two peoples - Judeo-Christians and Muslim terrorists. There is a disappointment among them which is not hidden that the killer was not a Muslim and that his crime was not part of an Islamic plan."

The hostile responses may have also been spurred by Norway's hosting of the 1993 Oslo Accords, which gave Palestinians a measure of self-rule, some analysts said. Yaron Ezrahi, a political scientist at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, said: "It's very clear that the Israeli Right, which associates the Oslo Accords with compromises towards the Palestinians, is generally antagonistic towards Norway."

Mr Ezrahi said that the adverse statements on the Web were likely made by extremist settler groups such as supporters of the prominent settler Rabbi Dov Lior. He drew much condemnation in Israel in recent months for sanctioning the killing of non-Jews, including babies, under certain conditions.

Ziv Lenchner, a left-leaning artist who writes columns for the Ynet website, wrote that parts of the Israeli internet commentary on the massacre reflected a kind of schadenfreude at Norway's pain. He said much of it was due to the perception being advanced by the predominantly right-wing Israeli government that "the whole world is against us, and that is in no way our fault".

While analysts say that Norway holds a similar view to other European countries when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israelis consider its approach as favouring the Palestinians. That is partly because of Norway's apparent support for a boycott of Jewish settlements, including by having its US$450 billion (Dh 1.65 trillion) sovereign wealth fund - one of Europe's largest institutional investors - last year divest its holdings in at least two Israeli firms involved in settlement building or helping to erect Israel's controversial West Bank barrier.

Last week, Norway's foreign minister, Jonas Gahr Stoere, said it was "perfectly legitimate" for Palestinians to seek recognition of their statehood from the UN in September and added that Norway upgraded the Palestinian representative in Oslo to ambassadorial rank. While he said Norway would wait to read the exact Palestinian proposal before deciding how to vote, he indicated that the country may favour the Palestinian plan.

In recent months, Israel has escalated its diplomatic push to persuade allies to reject the proposal should it come up for a UN vote.

 

foreign.desk@thenational.ae

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