Justifying their decision, the jury says the prize-winner has “brought the Jewish minority’s history in Norway to light and has worked against anti-Semitic attitudes for many years.”
“As a Jew, she independently and courageously focuses a critical spotlight on the policies of the Israeli and Palestinian leaders in the area of conflict, not least by her own observations of living conditions in the West Bank.”
Ms Sender, who has previously been awarded a Christian organisation’s reach-out prize, spent two months living on the West Bank in 2012.
She highlighted the situation of the worst-affected Palestinians on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, declaring they are “pawns in a game coming from the political conflict.”
“They are neither addressed by Palestinian nor Israeli authorities, and end up between a rock and a hard place,” she told Christian newspaper Vårt Land. “The result is suffering for both people and individuals.”
Former Jewish Community in Oslo spokesperson Ms Sender (2005-2011) subsequently travelled to the West Bank as delegate on an ecumenical accompaniment programme.
She has also written a book, ‘Vår jødiske reise’ (‘Our Jewish Journey’), in which she among other things accounts for her changes of attitude relation to Israeli policies in several areas.
In it, she underlines the need to “see with both eyes”. She has been vehemently attacked for her views in connection with the book’s 2013 publication, and responded by insisting on a dialogue and a quest for justice.
Ms Sender’s work combating anti-Semitism includes calling on Norwegian governmental politicians to actagainst this and racism, found to be common in Norwegian schools and universities.
A report following a Holocaust Centre-conducted study on Norwegians’ attitudes to Jews found approximately 12.5 per cent have a direct prejudice against Jews.
The previous coalition government announced it was to provide providing anti-Semitism teaching courses.
58-year-old Anne Sender was born in Oslo. She has represented Norway’s Jewish Community in bilateral dialogues with the Norwegian Church, the Catholic Church and in tripartite dialogue between the Norwegian Church, the Islamic Council, and the Jewish Community.
She was also operations manager for the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) between 2006 and 2007 in parallel with her role as Jewish community spokesperson.
Other posts Anne Sender has held include being special advisor and consultant at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ humanitarian section from 1999 to 2001.
Fritt Ord’s annual prize is the foundation’s highest award. The prize consists of NOK 400,000 and a Fritt Ord statuette signed by prominent Norwegian sculptor Nils Aas (1993-2004).
This year’s ceremony will take place on 8th May at 19:00 at the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet in Oslo.