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.
The 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 Israelis.
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- Semitism.
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 regime.
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.