The following op-ed by Hanne Nabintu Herland concerns the Norwegian government’s persistent soft spot for the Palestinians. It was originally published in Aftenposten, Norway’s largest newspaper, on January 15th, 2013, and has been translated by the author.
Naïve Checkbook Diplomacy
by Hanne Nabintu Herland
Torgeir Larsen, a junior minister for the Norwegian Labor Party, admits in Norway’s largest newspaper Aftenposten on December 28, 2012, that Norwegian authorities closed their eyes to the realities of the Middle East. Too often they thought they were in the service of stability, but later found out that was not the case.
Regardless, this acknowledgement of Norwegian naïveté must lead to tangible changes in foreign policy in order to be of real value.
The junior minister asked me what I meant by my leading article on December the 20th (“In bed with the enemy”) in which I stated that Norwegian checkbook diplomacy is de facto supportive of terrorist organizations that display significant intolerance towards Christians, Jews, gays or other minorities who are not considered “sufficiently Islamic”.
Let’s take a look at the statistics: Norway is one of the smallest countries in the world, and one of the largest contributors to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and others, with annual donations of over 700 Million NOK. Especially since the current left-wing Labor government took office in 2005, the donations have exploded. What are these sums spent on?
Recently the remuneration for suicide bombers was tripled. The Hamas terrorist who killed 30 Israelis in 2002 by now receives 20,000 NOK a month, according to The Times of Israel last September the 9th. Those who have carried out the worst attacks against innocent civilians receive the highest pay.
Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center figures from 2005 show that Palestinians have conducted 25,770 terrorist attacks, 147 suicide attacks leading to 1,100 dead Israelis and 7,500 wounded between 2000 and 2005. Fatah conducted 214 acts of terrorism in 2003-2004 alone, according to 2005 Terrorism Review.
Gross corruption charges have for a long time been directed at the PLO, which already by 1993 was the richest terrorist organization in the world, according to the British National Criminal Intelligence Service, having assets of ten billion dollars and an annual income of approximately two billion dollars. The Daily Telegraph reported in 1999 that the PLO had secretly invested over 50 billion dollars around the world. Still, Norway has continuously broken bread with these people.
The Norwegian taxpayers’ money has amongst other things financed a number of visits from the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Fatah, not to forget the PLO, coming to Oslo. Not to mention the intense activities of Norway’s previous Foreign Minister, Jonas Gahr-Store, as he has travelled extensively between different Islamist groups in the Middle East, having secret meetings in 2007 with Hamas’ leader, Khaled Meshaal, which shocked the West. Having publicly denied these meetings, the Norwegian TV station, TV2 forced him to admit to lying about this in 2010, an incident which is referred to in Aftenposten.
The PA Minister Faisal Husseini said to Al-Safir in 2001 that “Our eyes will continue to aspire to the strategic goal, namely, to Palestine from the river [Jordan] to the sea. Whatever we get now cannot make us forget this supreme truth.” And Hamas’ message from the internet: “We are a nation that drinks blood, and we know that no blood is better than the Jews’.” In this perspective it is interesting to note that the pluralist liberal democracy of Israel is the only country in the Middle East where gays are protected legally, having annual gay pride parades and religious liberty, and where Christian minorities are growing and the nation enjoys a free press and an active public debate. But these we do not support in Norway.
As recently as 1996, Yasser Arafat stated in Stockholm — three years after his Nobel Peace Prize — that the Palestinian plan still was to annihilate Israel, establish a pure Palestinian state and make the Middle East so horrible that the Jewish minority could not stand to live there anymore, according to Arutz-7.Arafat said this three years after having received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in 1993.The PLO’s decision on genocide against the Jews had still not been removed from its charter. As we all know, one of the reasons for Oslo II 1995 was that Arafat was to denounce terrorism and remove from the PLO’s charter the quest for Jewish genocide.
The current Norwegian Labor government has been far too gullibly influenced by Palestinian propaganda. Hoping to become an internationally renowned peace mediator and content seeing the effects of our checkbook diplomacy, we have closed our eyes to what we actually finance. No wonder our role as a peace mediator in the Middle East seems to be over.
Hanne Nabintu Herland is a Norwegian historian of comparative religions and a bestselling author.