Manfred and Anne Lehmann Foundation

Nobel Peace Prize Defiled

For many years the Nobel Peace Prize was the badge of honor and recognition for true efforts at human rights and peace between nations. That perception was laid to rest on Friday, October 14, when the Nobel committee in Oslo included Yasser Arafat -- murderer and terrorist par excellence -- in this year's Peace Prize award.

The outcry against this outrageous misuse of the hitherto prestigious prize was ear splitting. Already, weeks before the October 14 date chosen for the announcement of the prize winners, heavy warnings against giving it to Arafat were heard around the world.

In various articles of mine, you have read again and again that Rabin and Peres were tailoring their political moves to winning favor with the Nobel committee. Thus, these two leaders undertook the most dangerous and reckless steps -- which risk the very survival of the Jewish State -- just to give the appearance of having created a peaceful climate in Israel. Even the censoring and suppression of news on murder by the PLO and its henchmen were aimed at misrepresenting the true results of the so-called "peace" process. I predicted that after October 14 passed and the decision on the Nobel Prize is history the situation may change in Israel.

Three days before the fourteenth, leaks came out of Oslo indicating that Rabin and Arafat would win the prize. The question remained, what about Peres, who was said to be actively lobbying for his own nomination. It is known that Rabin, whose relations with Peres over the years have been filled with hatred and suspicion, was trying to prevent the lobbying by Peres in Oslo.

Typically, while self-respecting Jewish organizations protested the awarding of the prize to Arafat, his friends -- American for Peace Now, the New Jewish Fund and other leftists -- applauded the honor being given to Arafat! Such unprincipled behavior shows how alienated these leftists are from Jewish pride and sensitivity. These are the same types of Jews who defended the murder of 22 Jews in a synagogue in Istanbul by the PLO some years ago.

In the middle of the night of October 14, I reached the Nobel committee by telephone and was given the stunning news that not only had Arafat and Rabin won the race, but also unexpectedly Peres' name had been added. Evidently the ambitious Peres had won the race against his archenemy, Rabin, and had robbed him of the glory of being the sole Israeli winner.

Immediately, arrangements were made for a protest meeting in front of the Norwegian Mission to the United Nations at 825 Third Avenue. A multitude of Jewish organizations were at hand to meet a battery of cameras of practically every TV station and newspaper, including the New York Times, in a press conference. The speakers were Councilman Dov Hikind, Dr. Jo Frager, Rabbi David Algaze, Beth Galinski and myself.

Speaker after speaker lamented the total bankruptcy of any value to the Nobel Peace Prize, now that a mass murderer was given the same award as Mother Theresa! To the Jewish people it was a tragic reminder that Jewish blood counts little, even in a supposed democratic country such as Norway, and that the memory of the hundreds murdered by Arafat has already faded from the minds of the members of the Nobel Prize committee.

The Norwegian Mission, whose representative was present, was clearly impressed with the press conference, and invited three of us to a meeting with their Mission chief, Mr. Svein Andreasen. I made use of my knowledge of the Norwegian language -- almost identical to my native Swedish -- to explain that the sharp decline in the moral and ethical standards for the award is best defined by the stark contrast between the action of the committee 60 years ago and today.

In 1934 the Peace Prize was awarded to German human rights and anti-Hitler activist, von Ossietzky, who had been imprisoned in the Oranienburg concentration camp for anti-Hitler activities. Hitler ranted against the award and not only stopped von Ossietzky from collecting the prize -- in fact, he was soon thereafter killed by the Nazis -- but also forbade all Germans to accept any Nobel Prizes.

Today the opposite has happened; the latter-day Nazi and murderer of Jews, Arafat, is honored with the Nobel Prize, while the voices of human rights activists have been muzzled. I also reminded the Norwegians that Vidkund Quisling, the Norwegian Eichmann, had sullied Norway's good name. Why now revive the criticism of Norway by rewarding a latter-day Quisling with the Peace Prize?

Many have wondered if, by these new low standards, next year's prize will be offered Saddam Hussein.

A ray of sunshine can be found in this whole sordid and outrageous episode; the staunch pro-Israel stand of one member of the Nobel committee, Mr. Kaare (pronounced "Kawre") Kristiansen, who made good on his threat to resign from the committee of Arafat was rewarded. Kristiansen explained his stand by pointing to Arafat's past of murdering countless Jews. I am confident that Jews everywhere will show their appreciation for this Christian's staunch stand, which is in the tradition of courageous Norwegians such as Grieg; Ibsen; Bjornesen, and Wirgeland. (The latter is the national poet of Norway who 140 years ago championed the admission of Jews into Norway for the first time.)

Professor Francis Sejersted, chairman of the Nobel Committee in Oslo, in answering all this criticism, said sheepishly at a press conference in Oslo that it was not his committee's duty to check into the background of each nominee! What else were they doing if not checking into each nominee's background?

Mr. Andreasen encouraged our plans to submit a petition to the Nobel committee and, as a minimum, demand that the prize be set aside for a year during which time the awardees, including Arafat, could prove whether they really were working for peace. While he said that the Nobel committee acted independently of the government and was a semi-private body, he would help us to convey our petition to Oslo. Since there are still two months before the prize is actually given on December 19, there is still time for reconsideration. The address of the Nobel committee is Drammensvn 19, N-0255, Oslo, Norway.

To be continued new week

 

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