Open Letter to the National Theatre of Norway



Some weeks ago, a video appeared on Youtube entitled "The National Theatre of Norway Apologizes." In this video, an actress, purporting to speak on behalf of the National Theatre of Norway, delivers the usual BDS-inspired claptrap against Israel's purported policy of "racism", "illegal occupation", "apartheid", "oppression" and Heaven-knows what else. The video is hysterically funny. It has also created an international incident, to which I hope to have contributed in some small measure with the following letter, dated October 26, 2106. In fact, subsequent to the mailing of my letter, another video appeared with an unknown Norwegian actor (comically disguised as another Norwegian actor who is alleged to be responsible for the first video!) apologizing on behalf of the National Theatre of Norway for the first video. One suspects that the second video is not the product of the National Theatre of Norway, but kudos to whoever made it. In fact, the tone it strikes is so on the nail that I thought perhaps my protest was superfluous. However, since the first video, as of this posting, has netted 65,452 viewers, while the second, only 2,488, I see no reason to withhold my two cents.  


To: Maria Pia Roll; the Honorable Norwegian Minister of Culture; and the National Theatre of Norway

             As Director of VEI—the online Visual Encyclopedia of the Ineffable, and Chairman of our Annual VEI Competition for the most representative example of each category, it is my distinct pleasure to congratulate Ms Maria Pia Roll; the National Theatre of Norway; and the Norwegian Ministry of Culture (as facilitator) on winning First Prize for your entry, “The National Theatre of Norway Apologizes” in the category of “Hypocrisy”.

            As a matter of record, I feel that it is important to mention also that your entry was leading in the category of “Sheer Idiocy”, when your primacy was displaced by UNESCO’s rollicking vote declaring null and void the so-called “historical connections” between the Temple Mount and Judaism. That mental convulsion usurped First Prize in that category. We therefore took the liberty of considering “The National Theatre of Norway Apologizes” in other categories thankfully still beyond the reach of UNESCO.

            Indeed, while your entry was originally received in the category of “Clown”, no doubt owing to Ms Roll’s hysterically off-kilter performance in “The National Theatre of Norway Apologizes”, the Jury was unanimous that Ms Roll fell short in that category by not physically slapping herself on the bottom à la John Cleese in a way that would visually convey the profundity of her remorse. (As a courtesy to Ms Roll, we provide herewith, for instructional purposes only, a link to a video demonstration of the pertinent technique by Professor Cleese: http://makeagif.com/NWislq.) We did however agree that “The National Theatre of Norway Apologizes”, with its innovative notion of adding self-directed, self-righteous moral indignation to the semiology of abject humility, epitomizes everything that has ever been written or said (or could be), on the subject of hypocrisy. Indeed, my colleagues and I are unanimous in the belief that nothing like this has ever been done before, on-stage or off. Moreover, the delicious idea of using the “Israeli Occupation/Apartheid” canard as a referential context for your video adds special “zip” to your entry in light of Norway’s proud history of Jew-hatred, Collaboration, and anti-Zionism.

            Accordingly, the VEI’s coveted Golden Hemorrhoid in the Category of Hypocrisy is hereby awarded jointly to Maria Pia Roll, the Norwegian Ministry of Culture, and, last, but not least, to the National Theatre of Norway (in spite of its hilariously demure disavowal of any involvement).

            It may be unfortunate that the special piquancy of Ms Roll’s portrayal of “Hypocrisy” will be lost on the majority of your viewers, who are probably not aware that while your progenitors were still vomiting over each other and splitting each other’s skulls in their longhouses, our own ancestors (when not under immediate threat of extinction) were studying and teaching Torah, Talmud, Ethics and Kabbala in our study halls and libraries under the direction of great and holy sages such as Rashi, Rambam, Ramban and many, many others too numerous to name in this brief letter.

            Norway is a young nation with much promise, as attested by the many great luminaries it has produced in science, mathematics, music, literature, and (until recently) the dramatic arts. We appreciate the progress you have made from barbarity and encourage you warmly to continue on the road to civilization.



                                                            Peter Gimpel, Publisher

                                                            Red Heifer Press


TanaisTANAIS: Kyklonio & Tanaïs. Two Poem Cycles Commemorating the Holocaust of the Jewish Community of Crete

First Bilingual Edition: Modern Greek & English

By Iossif Ventura.


      Just over 70 years ago, on June 9, 1944, the German merchant vessel Tanaïs was torpedoed by a British submarine off the coast of the Greek Island of Crete.  The freighter was carrying 900 prisoners of war destined for the slave camps and crematoria of mainland Europe. All prisoners perished in the attack—among them, 299 Jews (men, women and children) comprising virtually the entire Jewish Community of Crete. 

      Among the handful of Jews who evaded capture was the family of a small child named Iossif Ventura. Iossif survived to become a nationally renowned poet.  Red Heifer Press is very honored to present the English-speaking world with the first bilingual edition of Tanaïs & Kyklonio, in which the original Modern Greek is accompanied by a powerful English translation that is the collaborative effort of several distinguished poets, scholars and critics.

      Iossif Ventura lives the echoing void left by friends, playmates, cousins, uncles and aunts, in a small town haunted by his uprooted Jewish Heritage. These poems stand out among all the poetry of the Holocaust for their eloquent tone, tempered grief, and surrealistic imagery. They are beautifully moving poems, a worthy memorial to the small but ancient Community that for at least 2300 years played an integral role in the economic and cultural life of the Island—a Community that was wiped out in one fatal hour that must never be forgotten.


“Transcendent revelation traverses the poetry of Iossif Ventura, a feeling of everyday sacredness, the sacredness of life, transcendent revelation. This sense of the sacre of the historical moment extends throughout Ventura’s poetry, giving it a certain rhythm, a musical movement interwoven with biblical rhetoric  not that far from the solemn dithyrambs of [legendary Greek poet] Andreas Kalvos.”
—Alexis Ziras, Founding Member and past Vice-Chairman and  President of the Hellenic Authors Society.



Photo by Mikhail Bargman

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