There have been greatly surprising developments in Norway in the past weeks.
Conservative parliamentarian Peter Gitmark has said on television that his
country is indirectly funding Palestinian terrorists. The country’s three
largest opposition parties – the Conservatives, the Progress Party and the
Christian Democrats – have asked for an investigation into Norwegian financing
of the Palestinian Authority by the Parliamentary Committee on Scrutiny and
Constitutional Affairs. This committee has requested that the Foreign Ministry
provide proper documentation clarifying the funding of Palestinian salaries paid
to convicted terrorists.
Foreign Minister Barth Eide admitted that his
predecessor Jonas Gahr Stoere had twice misled parliament. He had said in 2011
and 2012 that his ministry knew where Norwegian aid money to the Palestinian
Authority went and that convicted terrorists in Israeli jails only received
cafeteria money while their families are given financial support. State
Secretary Torgeir Larsen has now disclosed that prisoners in Israeli jails
serving long sentences receive payments from the PA. These prisoners can choose
to whom they want to give the money. Contributing about 50 million
dollars annually to the PA, Norway is one of its largest donors.
government-owned Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) broadcast a television
program on February 28 in which the claim was made that part of Norwegian
taxpayers’ money goes to funding Palestinian murderers in Israeli jails. This
was remarkable as NRK has a long record of anti-Israel bias and distorted
reporting on the Middle East.
All of this was triggered by information
provided by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW). It showed that the PA uses money from
its budget to pay salaries to all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails for
security offenses. The recipients include those serving multiple life sentences
for murder. Among them is Ibrahim Hamed, the man behind, among others, the
Hebrew University cafeteria bombing and who was convicted for the murder of 46
Until recently, the strongest criticism of the massive
misconduct of the Norwegian Labor-dominated government usually came from abroad.
This author’s 2008 book Behind the Humanitarian Mask
: The Nordic Countries,
Israel and the Jews
was a lone foreign voice documenting that Norway is a
pioneer in promoting Israel-hatred and anti-Semitic acts. Most Norwegian
media reactions to the book have been classic responses against internal
dissenters and foreign critics; one does not mention them, but when doing so is
unavoidable, they are demonized.
At the time there were no studies on
anti-Semitism in Norway and thus no statistics to support the massive amount of
anecdotal information. Even the tiny organized Norwegian Jewish community – with
less than 900 members – tried to publicly minimize the high level of anti-
In a somewhat similar way, in 2010, almost all Norwegian mass
media concealed a letter former American senator Sam Brownback sent to the
Norwegian ambassador in Washington expressing concerns regarding Norwegian anti-
Semitism and anti-Israelism. They were accompanied by documentation from the
Simon Wiesenthal Center listing examples of anti-Israeli hate support by
Norway’s king, prime minister, minister of foreign affairs, minister of finance
and deputy minister of the environment. As far as is known, Brownback
never received a reply.
A breakthrough in foreign exposure came when
Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz visited Norway in 2011. The universities
of Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim refused his offer of a free lecture on
international law and Israel. The student unions then organized alternative
lectures. Dershowitz thereafter wrote an article in The Wall Street
Journal saying that Norway reminded him of South Africa under the Apartheid
A few months later a study commissioned by the Oslo Municipality
showed that one-third of all Jewish high school students are verbally or
physically harassed at least two or three times a month. A study in 2012 by the
Center for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities showed that 38 percent
of Norwegians agree with the statement that Israel behaves toward the
Palestinians in the same way that the Nazis acted toward the Jews. The authors
of the study in their conclusion whitewashed these findings by not including
them in their statistics of anti-Semitism. They must have been aware that
calling Israel a Nazi state is anti-Semitic according to the European Working
Definition of Anti-Semitism.
Meanwhile, internal Norwegian voices against
this anti-Israel hate-mongering have become stronger. One is the MIFF
organization, which supports Israel. Another is a leading Norwegian
non-fiction writer, Hanne Nabintu Herland. She claims Norway is the most
anti-Semitic country in the West. Her standing in the country is so prominent
that even major national media had to print this.
At present the
opposition parties are currently well ahead in the polls for the September 2013
parliamentary elections. The two largest ones – the Conservative and
Progress parties – have already agreed on a positive change in attitude toward
Israel if they win. In this context, the current pressure on the government to
end the financing of Palestinian terrorists becomes even more
meaningful.The writer is a board member and former chairman of the
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (2000-2012). He is a recipient of the
Lifetime Achievement Award (2012) of the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism.