In recent years Norway’s government has incited against Israel probably more than
any other Western European government.
Last week’s defeat in the
parliamentary elections of the three-party coalition of Labor Prime Minister
Jens Stoltenberg is a suitable occasion to summarize several aspects of this
hatred and assess what can be expected now.
It was symbolic that when
Stoltenberg acknowledged people for their support during the campaign, he
specifically thanked leaders of the trade union LO and Labor’s youth
organization, the AUF. Both groups have played key roles in demonizing
Norwegian trade union leaders malign Israel incessantly. The peak
of their hate promotion comes on Labor Day – May 1.
Hardly any official
banners at their gatherings deal with international matters.
of them call for boycotts, or otherwise incite against Israel. Already in 2002,
LO union leader Gerd-Liv Valla called to boycott Israel. Stoltenberg has spoken
on various occasions at the LO’s May 1 demonstrations and ignored the Israel
The AUF came into the international limelight when
criminal Anders Breivik killed 69 youngsters at its summer camp on the island of
Utoya in 2011. One side effect of the huge media attention was that it became
widely known how children of 14 years and older were indoctrinated there to hate
Israel. A number of Utoya survivors were Labor Party candidates in the September
The main Labor Party inciter against Israel is Jonas Gahr
Stoere, who was foreign minister until 2012. His successor, Jespen Barth Eide,
makes fewer inflammatory statements, yet follows similar
Earlier this year he admitted that Stoere lied to Parliament
twice when denying that Norway was indirectly funding Palestinian murderers in
Stoere denied in January 2011 on a TV2 broadcast that he
was speaking with Hamas directly. The interviewer retorted that Hamas leader
Khaled Mashaal had told him about their conversations. In an interview with
Ma’ariv in 2009, Stoere said that diplomat Trine Lilleng was no longer posted at
Norway’s embassy in Saudi Arabia.( She had used her email account to distribute
pictures juxtaposing Israeli actions against the Palestinians and the
Holocaust.) A few months later, Israeli journalist Cna’an Lipshiz called the
Norwegian Embassy in Riad. He was told that Lilleng would be back in her office
in half an hour. It seemed she had even been promoted.
photographed at the 2011 Utoya camp in front of a banner calling for a boycott
of Israel. He had said at the time, however, that he was against this boycott.
Perhaps his most extreme anti- Israel act was writing a back cover comment for
Eyes in Gaza, a book by Norwegian Hamas supporters. The authors claimed that
Israel had started its Cast Lead campaign in 2008 to kill Palestinian women and
In 2012, Stoere wrote in Ha’aretz that he was worried that 38
percent of Norwegians think Israel acts toward the Palestinians like Nazi
Germany behaved toward the Jews. However, he neglected to ask how much he and
other government colleagues contributed to that sentiment.
Stoere’s term, Norway’s ambassador to Israel, Svein Sevje, suggested that
Breivik’s killings were not understandable for Norwegians, contrary to
Palestinians murdering Israeli civilians. The ambassador’s much-publicized
remarks probably did more damage to Norway’s image in Israel than anyone
In 2010, then-Norwegian ambassador to Syria Rolf Willy Hansen
publicly praised artist Hakon Gullvag, whose exhibition of anti-Israel hate
paintings in Damascus had been co-financed by his embassy. In 2009, the
Stoltenberg government spent $20 million dollars for a year-long tribute to
writer Knut Hamsun on the 150th anniversary of his birth. Hamsun gave his Nobel
Prize for Literature to German Nazi propaganda minister Joseph
Labor’s partner in the defeated government, the Socialist Left
party, has incited against Israel even more. The third coalition partner, the
Center Party, wants to prohibit circumcision. An OSCE report in 2012 severely
criticized the Norwegian government for its attitude toward both Jews and
What can Israel expect from the Conservative and Progress
parties, the two largest parties of the center-right that are most likely to be
in the next government? They will need support from either the Christian
Democrats or the Liberals to comprise a parliamentary majority. The
Conservatives have little interest in foreign policy. The Progress Party, under
its leader Siv Jensen, is staunchly pro-Israel, and that is true for most
Christian Democrat MPs. There should thus be an improvement in Norway’s official
attitude toward Israel.
Major Norwegian media will, however, continue to
promote hatred of Israel.
The same is true for the trade unions, several
Lutheran church leaders, NGOs, academics and individuals among the civil society
elite. King Harald V may continue to award royal medals to prominent
anti-Semites, as he did during Stoltenberg’s rule.
A 2011 study by the
Oslo Municipality found that one third of Jewish high school students are
physically or verbally harassed at least two or three times a month. Their
classmates are unlikely to discontinue this behavior because Stoltenberg’s
government was defeated. One among many major requests Israel should make to
Norway’s new government is that it commission a detailed, independent study of
who has ingrained the belief in 1.5 million adult Norwegians that Israel behaves
like Nazi Germany.
The author is a board member and former chairman of
the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (2000-2012). The second edition of his
book Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews can
be read for free on the Internet.