A letter to Norway’s foreign minister: Your country's actions have been disturbing

a letter to norway’s foreign minister: your country's actions have been disturbing

NORWEGIAN FOREIGN Minister Espen Barth Eide: Norway’s deafening silence and its failure to forcefully demand accountability from Hamas and its supporters, the immediate release of the hostages and the disarming of Hezbollah is highly disturbing, the writer asserts.

Dear Minister Barth Eide,

Over the past ten years, we have spoken a number of times about Israel and the region. While we did not always agree, I thought that your views on these issues reflected a constructive approach.

This includes your willingness to listen and engage in conversation on the counterproductive agendas of powerful political NGOs funded by the Norwegian government, including the Norwegian Refugee Council, Norwegian People’s Aid (Folkehjelp), and Palestinian groups using the facades of human rights and peace.

It is for this reason I am very troubled by your statements and policies in recent months, in the shadow of the inhuman and incomprehensible brutality of the October 7 pogrom and slaughter.

A country that has been through trauma

This was not a remote event for us – every Israeli was and continues to be directly traumatized. We went to funerals of mothers who were cruelly slaughtered, and seek to comfort their children as well as the families of hostages who have been tortured in Gaza for almost eight months.

I have also rushed grandchildren to shelters during the many times that Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran have launched missile attacks in our direction.

a letter to norway’s foreign minister: your country's actions have been disturbing

Israeli kids carry their sleeping items as they walk out of a bomb shelter following Israel-Hamas truce, in Ashkelon, Israel May 21, 2021. (credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)

Israeli kids carry their sleeping items as they walk out of a bomb shelter following Israel-Hamas truce, in Ashkelon, Israel May 21, 2021. (credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)

Therefore, the deafening silence of your government and its failure to repeatedly and forcefully demand accountability from Hamas and its supporters, the immediate release of the hostages, and the disarming of Hezbollah is highly disturbing.

Instead, in the name of high-minded idealistic moral but totally misguided principles, Norway’s policies continue to ignore the bitter reality that Israelis face daily. These actions serve to further empower Hamas, Hezbollah and their allies.

In parallel, the portrayal of Israelis as blood-thirsty killers of innocent Palestinians, including the immoral and blatantly false “genocide” and “starvation” campaigns, contributes to hatred and violence aimed at the Jewish people, and reinforces ancient antisemitic images, including blood libels.

This is highlighted in Norway’s support of the International Criminal Court prosecutor’s absurd indictment of Israeli leaders through blatantly false allegations.

The ICC is a very clear example of the use of a highly distorted version of international law and related institutions to demonize Israel and erase Israeli victims of brutality and torture.

The same is true for Norway’s support for the cynical lawfare exercise in the ICJ (International Court of Justice) under the heading of “occupation,” and support for the campaign to impose selective economic boycotts in order to punish Israelis.

A counterproductive move made by Norway

SIMILARLY, your recent declaration recognizing a theoretical Palestinian state is entirely counterproductive, to understate the case. There is no evidence to support the claim that recognition would create “balance” and thus promote peace.

In contrast, we see that every transfer of territory to Palestinian control, from the failed “Oslo framework” through the 2005 Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, leads to expanded terror and war.

It is obvious that a unilaterally imposed Palestinian state at this time would amplify the instability and violence – Hamas and its allies would immediately expand their efforts to transform the West Bank into a terror fortress like Gaza, in order to advance the objective of destroying Israel. Is this the goal sought by Norway?

In addition, Norway’s harsh condemnations of the Israel responses in Gaza, including repetition of false accusations of war crimes, are repeated constantly on multiple platforms.

I have not seen or heard references to how Hamas uses 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza as human shields, the thousands of rockets aimed from Gaza at Israelis, or on the massive underground terror infrastructure – facilitated for many years by the UN and the international community, including Norway. These are actual war crimes.

Although informed and principled disagreements on some issues are understandable, I fail to see how repeated demonization of Israel for acting in self-defense to dismantle Hamas and prevent a repetition of the horrors of October 7 – and to deter similar attacks, as planned by Hezbollah – is consistent with your claims to act on the basis of morality.

I also note Norway’s unlimited support for UNRWA, erasing the clear evidence of the involvement in terror by numerous staff members, as well as the agency’s central role since 1949 in perpetuating the conflict through the myths of perpetual Palestinian refugee victimhood and “return” – meaning the elimination of Israel.

For these reasons, I would hope that you would belatedly recognize the need for a realistic approach to our region’s traumas and complexities, instead of pursuing misguided policies that spread the false accusations and blood libels used to demonize Israelis.

Political leaders and diplomats, like doctors, should be guided by the principle of “do no harm.”

The time has come for repairing relations between the citizens of Israel and Norway and replacing the propaganda of demonization with the constructive dialogue that characterized our previous conversations.

The writer is emeritus professor of politics at Bar-Ilan University and president of NGO Monitor.

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