Casual observers of the Middle East are no doubt aware of the deeply
anti-Semitic and anti- Zionist attitudes in the leadership of the Muslim
Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. These groups make little attempt to
conceal their desire for a world without Israel, and care not whether this goal
is achieved through the so-called “right of return” which would grant millions
of Palestinians the “right” to live in Israel, or through the liquidation of the
“Zionist entity.” Any rational observer knows these actions would end Israel as
the state of the Jewish people.
Nor do these groups devote much attention
to distinguishing whether this aim should be achieved through violent jihad or
by the expulsion of Israelis.
They often insist a peaceful and just
solution can be achieved only if Jews return to their previous homes in the
former Soviet Union, Morocco, Iraq or Germany.
The ubiquitous demand for
the “liberation of Palestine” is understood by any rational observer to be an
appeal not solely for the liberation of the West Bank but a euphemism for the
destruction of Israel. In the end, they want Israel not to exist – to be
destroyed, and care little how it happens.
However, a new and
not-so-subtle threat has emerged from one of the more peaceful places on earth –
Scandinavia. Norway has never posed a direct threat to Israel nor has it
advocated Israel’s liquidation.
However, many in its government, and some
large businesses, have recently displayed a pattern of strong anti-Israel and
often anti-Semitic attitudes which would make Islamist radicals very
Why would a very tolerant, progressive and democratic government
espouse such prejudicial views? Why is this significant for Jews and all persons
of conscience? Western nations are typically categorized as advocates of
liberty, democracy, human rights and tolerance.
The Kingdom of Norway is
no exception and prides itself as a universal champion of these noble
For instance, in December 2010, the Norwegian government released
a 12-page brochure affirming that “The protection of human rights is one of the
main pillars of Norwegian foreign policy, and providing support for human rights
defenders is a central part of these efforts.”
Therefore, it would be
incumbent upon Norway to practice what it preaches. However, Oslo’s recent
behavior reveals a proclivity toward singling out Israel among all other nations
for international opprobrium.
Norwegian leaders and officials attempt to
justify their anti-Israel actions based on the narrative that Israel occupies
Palestinian land. They typically avoid specifically targeting Jews, for fear of
being labeled anti-Semitic, but their actions nonetheless exhibit traits of
Norway once played an instrumental and
nonpartisan role, during the Oslo Peace Accords in the 1990s.
minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat made compromises and
offered mutual recognition. Arafat renounced terrorism.
has since dramatically changed.
In January 2006, Socialist politician
Kristin Halvorsen proposed a boycott of Israeli products, while insisting that
her views did not reflect the government. Oslo may have distanced itself from
Halvorsen’s controversial remarks, but it has refused to follow the United
States and European Union’s classification of Hamas as a designated terrorist
“We condemn organizations that are involved in terrorism,”
said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, “but Norway has considered the situation
as such that having lists where we put an organization and call it a terrorist
organization will not serve our purposes.”
Støre has also insisted that
Israel dismantle its security wall built in response to the wave of suicide
bombings from the West Bank.
Additional anti-Israel actions further
raises the question of whether Norway objects to specific Israeli policies or is
anti-Jewish. In 2008, Socialist politician Ingrid Fiskaa asserted to a Norwegian
newspaper that the United Nations should fire “precision guided missiles against
Trine Lilleng, a Norwegian diplomat to Saudi Arabia,
emailed dozens of pictures to friends of Holocaust pictures juxtaposed with
images from Israel’s war with Hamas in December 2008 to portray Jews as
Moreover, during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s
anti-Israel tirade at the Durban II Conference in Geneva, Norway remained in
attendance while most other Western nations either boycotted the conference or
NORWEGIAN ANTI-ISRAEL and anti-Jewish sentiment appears to be
a “top-down” phenomenon. A 2010 report from NGO Monitor which provides
information on organizations claiming to advance human rights revealed that Oslo
provides tens of millions of kroner annually to West Bank and Gaza NGOs. Some of
these organizations are blatantly anti-Israel and promote anti- Israel
Norwegian Church Aid denounced Oslo’s decision to withhold aid
to the Hamas regime in Gaza in 2006, and has met with senior Hamas leader Ahmed
The Norwegian People’s Aid, funded by the Foreign Ministry,
described Israel as “apartheid” and accused it of “war crimes.”
University of Trondheim in Norway tried to impose an academic boycott against
Israeli universities in 2009, but the motion ultimately failed. On November 9,
the Norwegian University of Science and Technology hosted a six-session seminar
featuring Norwegian scholars on Israel’s alleged use of anti-Semitism as a
political tool. In a letter to Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, the Simon
Wiesenthal’s director for international relations Shimon Samuels described the
seminar as “a new stage in Norwegian incitement to Jew hatred.”
October 2010, Norway’s Foreign Ministry announced that it would not permit the
German shipbuilder HDW to test its Dolphin class submarine, built for the
Israeli navy, in Norwegian territorial waters.
This despite the fact that
HDW leases a base from Norway to test its submarines in deep water.
most recent example of Norway’s genteel anti- Semitism was exemplified by Roar
Arnstad, CEO of a Norwegian pharmaceutical chain called VITA, with his decision
to boycott Ahava cosmetics manufactured in West Bank settlements. Arnstad
justified the decision based on the logic that Israel’s occupation of the West
Bank was illegal and that therefore it would be immoral to purchase Israeli
products from occupied territory. Arnstad denies holding anti-Semitic beliefs
and claims his policy is only against the Israeli occupation, but if this was
indeed sincere, he would apply the same boycott to other occupying
But Norway does not propose academic boycotts against
universities in China, Britain, Turkey, Armenia, India or Morocco, nor does it
enact sanctions and divestment programs. Singling out Israel is anti-Semitism
and this demonstrable fact cannot absolve the Norwegian government of its own
I would like to remind the Norwegian government and corporate
CEOs of the European Union’s examples of the ways in which anti-Semitism
manifests itself: “Claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist
endeavor, applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected
or demanded by any other democratic nation; and drawing comparisons of
contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”
So tell us, do you
boycott cultural and academic events in Britain (occupier of the Falkland
Islands), China (occupier of Tibet), Russia (occupier of the Kuril Islands),
Iran (occupier of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa Islands), Morocco
(occupier of Western Sahara), Armenia (occupier of Nagorno-Karabakh) and Turkey
(occupier of Northern Cyprus)? Do you ban imports from these countries?
Moreover, do you criticize suicide bombings and rocket attacks against civilians
with the same fervor with which you criticize Israeli policies? For many,
regarding Norwegian policies – enough is enough. If Vidkun Quisling was alive
today and read the anti-Israel an anti-Semitic statements that were coming out
of Norway, a big smile would appear on his face.
The writer completed a
PhD in Middle East Studies from King’s College, London.