Norway's dash for Gaza

From the folks who brought us 'quisling' and 'Oslo' comes the first European country to embrace Haniyeh.

haniyeh norway dude 298 (photo credit: AP)
haniyeh norway dude 298
(photo credit: AP)
Why was Raymond Johansen, the Norwegian deputy foreign minister, in such a hurry to be the first European representative to meet Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of the new Palestinian unity government in Gaza? What was the hurry? He certainly read Haniyeh's March 17 speech in which the Hamas chief outlined the Fatah/Hamas government program. Haniyeh said: "The government affirms that resistance is a legitimate right of the Palestinian people." And he knows what Haniyeh means by "resistance" - suicide bombings of cafes and buses, drive-by shootings, rocket launchings. He knows the new government demands the "right of return" to pre-1967 Israel for millions of Palestinian Arab refugees and their descendents. He knows that means that killing Israel demographically. Johansen knows that the Fatah/Hamas government does not renounce violence; that it will not honor previous agreements signed by the PLO, and that it will never recognize the right of a sovereign Jewish state to exist anywhere in the Middle East. So, I asked myself, again, just what was Johansen's rush? Now, I recall that Johansen was quoted back in March 2001 (by the Norwegian news agency NTB) as saying that international law gave the Palestinians the right to fight an "occupier," but he later said that he'd been misquoted. So the more I thought about Johansen's rush to embrace Hamas, the more baffled I was. I admit that I know very little about Norway. All I remember is that this faraway country enjoys beautiful fjords and other wonders of nature. As a matter of fact, I have never met a single Norwegian. So I consulted my old files in our archives to see whether they would help me fathom Norway's rush to Gaza. Here's what I came upon. It was Norway that, during World War II, produced the original Quisling - Vidkun Quisling. When Germany invaded Norway on April 9, 1940, Quisling announced a pro-Nazi coup. He thus betrayed his king and his country to collaborate with the invading German forces. The very name "Quisling" still stands for a betrayal. And then I recalled that after World War II was over, the Norwegian government announced that it would agree to re-absorb, within its great land, precisely the same number of Jews as had been living in Norway before 1939 and had been murdered in the Holocaust. But not a single Jew more. THIS WAS at a time when tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors were in refugee camps in Germany desperate to get out of Germany and re-build their lives. The Norwegian government decision was certainly a logical one. No one, save for the Palestinian Jewish community, had any interest in all those "undesirable" survivors. But I imagine that there was some satisfaction in Norway, when those survivors finally found sanctuary - in what would become the Jewish state. Do today's Norwegians recall that once this refugee problem had been solved, Israel had to conquer the desert, absorb a million more Jews exiled by the Arab countries and fight war after war for its survival? And perhaps in order to bring some order and peace to the Middle East, in 1993, it was the Norwegian government that helped foist the Oslo agreement on us. Now, after over 2,000 Israelis perished or were maimed by the Palestinian terror which came in the wake of Oslo, the very name "Oslo" has became anathema to most Israelis. And how do Oslo's own citizens react to the violence unleased by the accords named after their capital? They probably say that we Israelis anyway agreed to it - forgetting the manipulations and dirty tricks that made our Knesset's acquiescence possible. Besides, Norwegians probably tell themselves, they were not the only European country to push the agreement down our throats. And so, thanks to Oslo, we turned over most of the West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinian Authority. We brought Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas and the entire enemy command and control from exile in Tunis and set them up in Ramallah. More recently, we even pulled out entirely the small Jewish communities from Gaza. Still, our Arab enemies lost no opportunity to work hard, not for for the sake of two independent states, Israel and Palestine, as envisaged in the agreements signed so far, but for a single country, where only those Jews who lived in Palestine before 1918 would be eligible for citizenship. The whole problem can today be summarized in a few words: There will be no peace as long as the Arabs believe that Israel can be destroyed - and sitting with Hamas reinforces this belief. As long as Europe allows the Arabs to fantasize about "the right of return" there can be no end to this conflict. But this message has failed to reach the consciences of the Norwegian government. So let me appeal to the people of Norway: Tell your government that Israel has a right to live in peace and security. And that to do so, the Palestinian government must recognize the agreements signed between Israel and the PLO; must renounce the threat and use of terrorism against Israelis; and must recognize the right of the Jewish people to live as a sovereign nation in the Middle East.