Norwegian academic boycotts Kristallnacht memorial over Israel

(JTA) — A Norwegian university distanced itself from a professor who said he opposed commemorating Nazi-era pogroms because it serves Israeli propaganda.

The views expressed last week by Trond Andresen, an assistant professor in the department of engineering cybernetics at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, are “far from what we stand for as a university,” Jan Erik Kaaro, a university spokesperson, told JTA on Tuesday.

Kaaro was commenting on an article that appeared Nov. 13 in the student news site Dusken.no in which Andresen was quoted as saying that he would not set foot at the local commemoration ceremony for the victims of Kristallnacht — the German name for a series of deadly pogroms orchestrated by Nazi authorities in 1938 that many historians view as the opening shot of the Nazi genocide.

The paper interviewed Andresen on the subject after he said on Facebook, “This annual event is used by Israel’s friends each year to deflect or undermine criticism of Israel.”

Andresen did not reply to queries by JTA, but he was quoted as telling the Norwegian news site that he stands by his Facebook statements, including, “I believe it is wrong for this particular genocide to get so much more attention than other genocides,” But this, he told the paper, does not mean that he meant to “trivialize this horrific genocide.”

The term anti-Semitism, he also said, “is so used by the Zionists that we should not use it. I think therefore that ‘anti-Semitism’ should not be a subject anywhere in the current political situation. To the extent that Jews are subjected to racism today, it is marginal compared to anti-Roma, anti-black and anti-Muslims racism, which all share one label.”

In 2009, Andresen said he was being harassed and targeted by an “Israeli or Israel-friendly foreign organization” for his support for a failed motion to have the board of his university adopt a blanket boycott of Israeli institutions.

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