The Oslo symposium, which was held in April, was opened by Israel’s ambassador Avi Nir-Feldklein, who, among other things, said about the relationship between Israel and Norway that “Norway does well without Israel and Israel does well without Norway – but think a lot about what we could accomplish together.” Unfortunately, there is nothing in Norwegian foreign policy today to suggest that the ambassador’s dream will come true.
The ambassador’s hope for constructive cooperation with Norway came at a time when Israeli society, during the preparation for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the restoration of the State of Israel, also marked the memory both of the nation’s many thousands fallen to war and terror, along with the memory of the many millions of victims for the extermination of the Jews, the Holocaust.
We see no signs from the Norwegian authorities that such a hope will come true in the foreseeable future. There is no will on the part of the Norwegian authorities to get anything done in cooperation with the Middle East’s only Western-oriented democratic society. Even though in many areas it is one of the world’s most successful countries. The Norwegian authorities have, of their own free will, excluded themselves from contributing to something they say they are concerned about: peace and reconciliation among the warring parties in one of the world’s most irreconcilable and seemingly intractable conflicts.
While the Israelis mourned their fallen and prepared to celebrate their national day, the state channel NRK staged a performance in the form of an interview so extremely anti-Semitic that it sent shock waves through the audience. In a news broadcast on Tuesday 25 April, they unleashed Hilde Henriksen Waage in an outburst of rage against the Jewish state the likes of which we have rarely heard. At least no one has heard anyone treat our own national day celebration like this. That this “professor” lacks civil decency is fine, but isn’t there a responsible editor in the state-funded media who has a say as to when such things are to be published? Is there no one in NRK’s editorial staff who has a minimum measure of journalistic competence, or is it only the provocative value of the features that counts?
This is not unique. On the same day we experienced exactly the same thing in the UN Security Council, under the leadership of a Russian chairman, where the Norwegian theologian Tor Wennesland spouted off with conspicuous insensitivity a litany of contentious accusations and lies against Israel about occupation and violations of international law. Nor did the UN Secretary-General who was present have objections to this grotesque act. Israel’s UN ambassador, Gilad Erdan, had to take the floor and remind the assembly of the diplomatic and decent lines that had been crossed.
Ambassador Erdan informed the Security Council that “every time I set foot in this room to participate in these debates, I mentally prepare myself for the one-sidedness, the lies and the exclusion of Israel – the only liberal democracy in the region. But today the debate has crossed all boundaries. I am not only appalled and indignant to the depths of my soul, but I am sad—very, very sad.” Refusing to take part in the debate, he lit a candle on the table in front of him and read out the names of the Israelis who had fallen in line or been killed by terrorists during the past year.
He concluded by saying that “if this Council refuses to respect your memory, I will dedicate this speech to your memory. I light this candle, Mr. President, to honour them and may their memory be blessed. I’m sorry, but I refuse to spend this holy day listening to lies and condemnation. This debate desecrates the fallen and Israel will not participate in it.”
Fortunately, Norway is no longer a member of that assembly, so we were spared from hearing the lies and accusations repeated by the Norwegian UN ambassador. It is, however, not important as we still remember them.
One of the most important things we could achieve by accepting the invitation from Israel’s ambassador to do something together would be to put an end to these unworthy sessions that take place every month in the Security Council. Peace in the Middle East is not unattainable. Two of the most important prerequisites that could be realised if the Norwegian authorities had the courage to do so, would be to end the more than 40-year-old false accusations against Israel about “occupation of Palestinian territories” that we repeatedly cover up the EU.
Norway is not powerless vis-à-vis the EU. We are in a position where we can raise demands for the cooperation that the EU is now dependant. A natural requirement should be that the conflict with Israel, which the EEC was forced by Arab terrorists and OPEC to participate in, ends both on the part of the EU and Norway.
Today, it is Norway that can play the role that OPEC had vis-à-vis Europe for 40-50 years ago. In line with this requirement, all European and Norwegian funding of terrorism must cease. If this happens, the basis for one of the major conflicts in the Middle East will disappear, it would be a worthy response to Ambassador Nir-Feldklein’s hope to get Norway and Israel to accomplish something important together.