Until the recent developments in Ukraine, it was unclear for many Westerners what the current justification for NATO’s existence was. The Cold War is history, so why continue to maintain a transatlantic military alliance? However, the recent tensions in Eastern Europe have led to major worries about an increasingly unsettled future.
In this context, the expected appointment of Norway’s previous Labor Party prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, as the new NATO secretary- general seems bizarre. This is not only due to Norway’s political and military reality under his leadership which ended with the election defeat last September, but also because of the attitudes of his government vis-à-vis Israel.
The Stoltenberg government was the only European government to include the extreme Left. Several ministers came from the SV party, among the founders of which were Norway’s communists. Ingrid Fiskaa of SV was deputy environment minister for some time. She had stated before: “When for example the Palestinians are exposed to a slow genocide and the UN does not get much done, this discussion does not come up. Why not? Because it is not in the US interest. In some dark moments, I might wish that the UN fire some precision- guided rockets at selected Israeli targets.”
Though Norway sent soldiers to Afghanistan, its military capabilities are deficient. In 2013, former chief of the Norwegian army General Sverre Diesen said that the country’s military defense had neither the quality nor capacity to face even limited attacks on Norway.
This situation was summed up in 2008 by General Robert Mood, inspector-general of Norway’s army, in a slightly different way. The Norwegian army, he said, was barely “able to defend perhaps one neighborhood in Oslo, much less the entire country.”
The Stoltenberg government frequently applied double standards against Israel, a behavior which fits the European definition of anti-Semitic acts. The government de facto legitimized the genocidal Palestinian terrorist movement Hamas on several occasions. If its calls to remove Israel’s security barrier had been successful, this would have facilitated Palestinian terrorist acts. It also organized major festivities on the occasion of the 150th birthday of the late writer Knut Hamsun, a fanatic Hitler admirer. This was yet another example of the poor judgment of a democratic prime minister.
Stoltenberg’s personal support for hate-mongering against Israel is mainly indirect.
As prime minister and party leader, he is responsible for all the anti-Israel and hate bias coming out of his government and Labor. In a letter to the Norwegian ambassador in Washington in 2010, then-US Senator Sam Brownback listed a number of anti-Semitic acts by the Norwegian government.
The letter mentioned for instance how the Norwegian government funded the trip of two extreme left-wing Norwegian doctors to Gaza during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead campaign. They became a mouthpiece for Hamas. Stoltenberg phoned these propagandists for Palestinian murderers and told them that “all of Norway is behind you.”
During his tenure, the Norwegian embassy in Damascus funded an exhibition of hate-Israel paintings by artist Håkon Gullvag.
The ambassador said at the opening that, “this exhibition is perceived as one of the most important political expressions that has been made by a Norwegian artist in a long time.”
The party’s youth movement, the AUF, is packed with anti-Israel inciters. After criminal Anders Breivik murdered tens of youngsters at the AUF camp on the island of Utoya in 2011, it became known that a substantial part of the camp was devoted to promoting hatred against Israel among its participants, the youngest of whom were 14 years old.
Stoltenberg spoke at several meetings over the years in which there were brutal verbal attacks on Israel, while he remained silent. A prime minister indicates his support by not confronting these attacks.
The most recent case was at the May 1 celebration of the umbrella Trade Union LO in Oslo in 2013. Salma Abudahi from Gaza’s Union of Agriculture Work Committees (UAWC) spoke at the event. Earlier she had given an interview in which she called rockets a “symbol of resistance” and said that occupied people have a right to defend themselves. “It is important,” said Abudahi, “to understand the proportions. The Israelis are killing our loved ones all the time.” This was yet another example of Palestinian hatemongering.
Stoltenberg spoke after Abudahi at the meeting and ignored her incitement in his speech.
If NATO states believe that out of all potential candidates this person is the most qualified to coordinate the workings of the alliance and head its staff, this is indication of poor judgment. Regarding Israel’s contacts with this powerful organization, Stoltenberg’s anticipated appointment is at best moving several steps backward.
The author has written over 20 books, of which two deal with Scandinavian anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism.