The Foreign Ministry will send a Druze ambassador and a Christian Arab deputy ambassador to Israel’s embassy in Oslo in order to sway growing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment in Norway.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman has spearheaded a series of initiatives in Israeli consulates and embassies through the world designed to improve world opinion of Israel, and assigning Naim Araidi, 62, a Druze professor, as the new ambassador to Norway is his most recent proposition, according to the Yedioth Ahronoth daily.
Ambassador-designate Araidi told Yedioth: “It will be a great honor for me to represent Israel and present its positive sides, and express that [in Israel] there is co-existence that can only exist in a true democracy.”
A survey initiated by the Foreign Ministry found that Norwegians think that Israelis are racist, aggressive, extremist, and anti-peace.
A study by the Center for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities in Oslo in May found that 12.5 percent of the Norwegian population is significantly prejudiced against Jews. Twenty-six percent of those polled believe that Jews consider themselves to be better than other people. Eight percent of the respondents said they were unwilling to have Jews as friends or neighbors. Twenty-five percent also saw Jews as exploiting the Holocaust for their own advantage.
George Deek, a Christian Arab from Jaffa who is currently Israel’s deputy ambassador in Nigeria, will serve as Araidi’s deputy in Oslo.
Araidi, a professor at both Bar-Ilan and Haifa universities, also serves as the dean at the Arab Academic College for Education. In 2008, he won the Prime Minister’s Award for Hebrew Literature
Foreign Ministry officials hope that the unconventional embassy team will broadcast Israel’s democratic values in Norway, a country that is home to a mere 1,500 Jewish citizens.