A United Nations spokesman is being sharply criticized by Israel supporters for calling on reporters to interview a Norwegian doctor and communist politician who once notoriously justified the 9/11 attacks and decried “the white world” for not understanding that terrorism is the weapon of the poor.
Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency that services Palestinians who claim refugee status, tweeted Monday: "Great interviewee @ Shifa Hosp Gaza right now Prof Mads Gilbert … call him 4 fatality & cas figs and atoms."
Two correspondents for the Jerusalem Post called out Gunness:
U.N. Watch, which monitors anti-Israel activity at the U.N., appealed to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to reprimand Gunness over promoting the “radical Maoist politician who in September 2001 openly supported the ‘moral right’ of Al Qaeda to perpetrate the 9/11 terrorist attacks against thousands of American civilians.”
“It’s an outrage that a supposed U.N. relief organization — which receives tens of millions of dollars from U.S. and European taxpayers — is promoting a radical politician who has openly supported the murder of American civilians,” U.N. Watch executive director Hillel Neuer said in a statement.
U.N. Watch surveyed Gilbert’s past statements, which included support for “bloody” revolutions.
“He joined the Workers’ Communist Party (AKP), now known as the Red party, in the 1970s, and in 2009 ran as the 14th-ranked candidate on the Red party list for elections in Troms. The party calls for revolution to ‘disarm the bourgeoisie,’" the organization said.
U.N. Watch noted that weeks after 9/11, Gilbert was one of the doctors who made front page news in Norway for expressing support for Al Qaeda’s attacks on the U.S. homeland.
“Norwegian doctors ADVOCATE TERROR attack,” read the headline of Norway’s Dagbladet newspaper on September 30, 2001.
According to U.N. Watch, the newspaper first quoted Gilbert supporting a colleague who described Al Qaeda’s terrorism as a “moral right.” U.N. Watch posted on its website a translation of excerpts from the newspaper report and this photo of the cover:
“I advocate the moral right of the people you call terrorists to attack the United States, as a legitimate response to 25 years of wars of aggression, mines, starvation and embargo, says surgeon Hans Husum, University Hospital of Tromsø. He is supported by physician Mads Gilbert,” wrote the Dagbladet newspaper.
This was followed by:
Dagbladet: Do you support a terrorist attack on the United States?
Gilbert: “Terror is a poor weapon, but the answer is yes, within the context I have mentioned.”
Dagbladet: You understand that this will create reactions?
Gilbert: “Yes, that’s to be expected. The white world does not understand that it is possible to see such an act in a different perspective."
Reacting to the criticism, the UNRWA spokesman clarified his initial promotion of Gilbert:
In a Monday television interview, the Norwegian doctor called Israel “the real criminal here.”
“Israelis are accusing the Palestinians of attacking them; they have to defend themselves, they claim. Actually, the truth is the exact opposite. Israel is the attacker, the occupant,” Gilbert told the progressive show Democracy Now. “And the main problem in the Middle East today, it is the Israeli impunity.”
Despite his criticism of Israeli air strikes on Gaza, Gunness’ own organization’s facilities are being placed at risk by Hamas, according to the Israel Defense Forces, which said that the terror group "has meetings and stores weapons across the street from an UNRWA medical center, a school and civilian homes."