Earlier this month, the Norwegian artists Pia Maria Roll and Marius von der Fehr, published a film on YouTube demonising Israel. Since then, they have come to their senses, and have choosen the pro-Israel organization Med Israel for fred («With Israel for peace») to publish this apology. The apology, written by MIFF, is also printed in the influential Norwegian weekly magazine Morgenbladet Friday 30 September.
– With antisemitism in Europe on the rise, and a dramatic increase in deadly ethnic and religious conflicts in the Middle East, it is crucial that Jews have a country of their own that they can defend. This is what we didn’t understand before. And for this we are deeply ashamed, says Pia Maria Roll and Marius von der Fehr.
The artists are ashamed of their stunt regarding The National Theatre of Norway and Habima Theatre in Israel, and ask you to help share this apology in social media.
Watch and share the video. Text in English follows.
This is a big day for Pia Maria and myself. It is the day we publicly apologise for our shameful demonisation of the world’s sole Jewish state. When we first began to support the Palestinian national movement, we were unaware of the anti-Semitic and Islamist currents that have left an indelible mark on the movement from the outset.
We didn’t know that previous and present-day Palestinian groups are abusing the solidarity and financial support from their friends in Norway to terrorise their Jewish neighbours and their own civilian population. We didn’t know, because we had not done any research.
We didn’t know that a united Palestinian civil society is demanding that millions of Palestinians should be entitled to move into the state of Israel, because they want to obliterate the Jewish state. The international forces of humanism and solidarity that we in the past would have liked to compare ourselves with, are not fighting for the “right to return” for any other group of refugees than the very one that would send Jews back to a life as a minority everywhere in the world – back to the very situation the Jews had fled. We didn’t know this, because we hadn’t bothered to investigate.
Ladies and gentlemen: How, in the name of Nansen and Lie could we be so blind? While we were fighting for the Palestinian cause, Hamas and Islamic Jihad – in the name of Palestine – were attacking Jewish women and children with thousands of rockets. While we were using the Norwegian taxpayers’ money, given to us as artists, to demonise Israel, Fatah and the Palestinian autonomy authority have used Norwegian taxpayer money to applaud terrorists in official media and to richly reward them – including proud murderers of children. We have lent an ear to people who speak glowingly about a two-state solution, while simultaneously supporting a political demand that will make Israel Arabic and Muslim. They will not hear of two states for two peoples. They forget that this is not a conflict on equal terms.
There are already 22 Arabic states and 57 Muslim states. It is these that need to sit down and collectively accept the fact that the Jews have one state. One. Only when this is in place, we can start talking about love blossoming.
This is not a colonial conflict. The Jews are an indigenous population in the Middle East and North Africa, and especially in the region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, where they have their historical, cultural, religious and linguistic roots. The Jews have been persecuted and discriminated against as a minority both in Europe and the Middle East.
In our grandparents’ lifetime, Jews in Arab countries, who constituted 1-2 percent of the population, have been given their own state on 0.2 per cent of that area. They have been driven off the other 99.8 per cent of the land.
Those of us who support a national state for the Palestinians know that it is only reasonable that also the Jewish people have autonomy. With antisemitism in Europe on the rise, and a dramatic increase in deadly ethnic and religious conflicts in the Middle East, it is crucial that Jews have a country of their own that they can defend. This is what we didn’t understand before. And for this we are deeply ashamed.
Ladies and gentlemen, you are undoubtedly thinking that these are “just words – just more empty words from yet another artist!” But we promise you, from the depths of Our creative hearts: It’s not. New knowledge has forced us to realise that we can no longer blindly support the Palestinian national movement and simultaneously demonise and disallow the Jewish national movement. We cannot allow ourselves to be used as a tool to enhance the power and prestige of corrupt Palestinian leaders.
This should go for all European artists. To avoid such nightmares of shame as we have experienced, we must open up to the outside world. We must acknowledge that the Western world is under attack from radical Islamists, liberate ourselves from appeasement, and dare to take personal risks. Only then can art assume importance in the years to come.
Yes, we will surely lose money. And yes, we will surely make enemies. But by acting in this way we will actually have something in common with the majority of our European public.
And we – Pia Maria Roll and I, Marius – will take the lead and set an example with the following promises:
Firstly, we hereby give our full support to Israel as the national homeland of the Jews. And we hereby register for membership in the organisation “With Israel for Peace” [Med Israel for fred, miff.no], where we can stand united with more than 10,000 other Norwegians whose eyes have been opened – people who know what we previously didn’t know.
Secondly, for two years, until the end of 2017, we will use all our state support – our livelihood as artists (in 2016 alone, Pia received at least 1.3 million kroner) – to highlight the threat from radical Islam. We and our colleagues have huge artistic resources at our disposal, which we hope to use in exploring a threat which, in this century alone, is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East and hundreds more in Europe. During this period, we will also donate 50% of our salaries to build bomb shelters for Jewish families threatened by rockets from the Shia Muslim terror organisation Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Thirdly, we will use these two years to show the Norwegian people all the technology and skills that Israel possesses and that we will need in a future society.
In closing: The BDS movements’ lies have caused us to realise something we had long forgotten: Art can be important. We will always be deeply thankful for this reminder.
Let Israel live! Long live art!