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Kaare Kristiansen: A man of courage and conscience

CM 14/09/2021


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Many people come in and out of our lives over the years. Some we forget quickly. Others make a lasting impression. One such great man was the late Kaare Kristiansen, whom I met in 1994.
In my position as English spokesperson and press officer for Shaare Zedek Medical Center, I was privileged to meet many important visitors to the hospital. I had heard a great deal about Kristiansen, and his name brought to mind a quote from Dwight Eisenhower: “The qualities of a great man are vision, integrity, courage, understanding, the power of articulation and profundity of character.” Kristiansen possessed these qualities in abundance.
He resigned from the Nobel Peace Prize Committee – a very prestigious post – because on December 8, 1994, a decision was made to award it to prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, foreign minister Shimon Peres, and the PLO’s Yasser Arafat, the men who had signed the Oslo Accords. Despite this, terrorist acts by the PLO had not decreased. Arafat had shown no control over his people or any desire to reign in the terrorists; and Rabin had placed Israel in great danger by slowly giving away parts of Israel.

The only man on the committee who had the courage to raise his voice in protest was Kristiansen, and his resignation sent shock waves throughout Norway and all over the world. His was a well-known name as he had served two terms as leader of the Christian Democratic Party; was a Member of Parliament from 1973-1977 and 1981-1989; and was also Norwegian Oil Minister from 1983-1986 as part of a center-Right coalition.
When he retired from politics, he was appointed to the secretive five-member Norwegian Committee that awards the Nobel Peace Prize.
I felt in great awe when I was introduced and given the opportunity to talk with him for a short while. I can still remember much of our conversation. “I admire you so much for the stand you took,” I managed to tell him.
“I resigned out of a moral obligation,” he told me. “Arafat did not qualify. I have followed his career for many years. He is unpredictable – what he says one day is different the next; what he does one day he does differently the next. Why give him the Peace Prize when there is no peace in the Middle East?”
“So why didn’t the committee agree with you?” I asked.
“They felt by awarding it, it would inspire them, and motivate them to continue the hard work,” he answered. “The award would deter them from caving in to the hardliners on both sides.”
“You were very heroic,” I said.
“No, it was the easiest way out. I had my conscience to satisfy.”
He then told me that his father had been a pastor in the Salvation Army, a Christian Zionist, and believed God would restore the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. The old cliché about the apple not falling far from the tree came to mind. And particularly some words I had once read: “Supporting the truth, even when it is unpopular, shows the capacity for honesty and integrity.” Kaare Kristiansen embodied it in a way never to be forgotten. 
He passed away in Oslo at 85 in December 2005. For me, his memory will always be a blessing. 
The writer is the author of 14 books. Her latest novel is Searching for Sarah
dwaysman@gmail.com

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The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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