Feb 022019
 

Norway is campaigning for a seat on the UN Security Council. However, the country has a problem in that respect: the nature of its relations with Israel. Israel and Palestine have been locked in a conflict that has been at the crux of the unrest in the Middle East ever since Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, but not Palestine, gained independence in the 1940s.

After WWII, Norway had to face up to the fact that 773 Norwegian Jews “had been deported” to Germany during the war. Please note the passive form here: “had been deported”. To this day, it hardly bears thinking about that Norwegians actually helped deport them, cf. the outcry in response to the recently published book Hva visste hjemmefronten.

In its shame, Norway was one of the first countries to embrace the establishment of the Jewish state and still officially considers itself one of Israel’s “best friends”.

In Norway as elsewhere there are those who maintain that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians must not be judged on the grounds of man-made laws but according to the words of the Bible’s Old Testament. Although they mostly stay out of harm’s way, people who hold such views, reminiscent of Sharia Law, have powerful friends, including the Norwegian finance minister. I shall not tire you with references – they are innumerable – though it is quite mind-boggling, in our day and age, to come across sites such as Bibelfellesskapet.net.

I doubt that Norwegian evangelicals hold anywhere near the power they wield in USA, but their influence added to the “shame” I mentioned above may go a long way to explain, together with the country’s servility to USA, why Norway has abstained in almost all UN General Assembly votes from condemning Israel’s crimes against humanity.

To be fair, the head of mission of TIPH (an observer mission in Hebron) was, until the entire TIPH was thrown out by Netanyahu earlier this week, a government-appointed Norwegian. And the mission did perform its work conscientiously, which was presumably why it was thrown out. Israel does not want witnesses, and that in itself should serve as grounds for alarm and sharp criticism. The Norwegian government’s reaction to the expulsion is merely one of polite regret.

Norway’s foreign ministers keep reiterating that the country is staunchly “neutral” with respect to Israel and Palestine. But what, I ask, does neutrality mean? If you see an 18-year-old beating a 6-year-old, and yes, the 6-year-old fights back as hard as he can, kicking and biting, what would your judgment be? Would it be: Both parties have behaved badly and none should be scolded more than the other? Is that neutrality? That is Norway’s stand in Palestine.

What if Congolese soldiers rape defenceless women, some of whom kick and bite as hard as they can to defend themselves? Both parties have behaved badly and none should be scolded more than the other? No. That is not Norway’s stand. Human rights defenders from Congo have just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

But Israel’s crimes against humanity have found a vulnerability in the Norwegian conscience. Hence, Norway does not qualify in questions of the Middle East. Since the Middle East still is the most explosive part of the world, Norway should not be on the Security Council.

Aug 072018
 

The Gaza Strip is populated by nearly two million people and is often referred to as a “prison”, as it has been subjected to a brutal Israeli blockade for 12 years. The blockade is in contravention of international law.

The humanitarian situation for the inhabitants of Gaza is nothing if not desperate. I know of no source that can better convey a picture of it than Al Jazeera. After all, their journalists are there on a day-to-day basis, risking their lives to cover the news there and elsewhere in Middle Eastern infernos. The rest of us including American evangelists, Prins Salman and US presidents past and present are not.

Moreover, NATO states (not least my own country) are so pusillanimous versus USA, that there is total impunity for Israeli crimes against humanity in Palestine which, in my view, include the crime of genocide.

So every once in a while, people from various countries (including my own) try to express their deep-felt concern and sympathy for the long-suffering people of Palestine. Recently a Norwegian fishing vessel, manned by sympathisers and carrying medical supplies, sailed to Gaza, or attempted to do so. The vessel was intercepted by the Israeli authorities 54 nautical miles off the coast and its crew and passengers were subsequently brutally arrested and incarcerated. True, they have since been released.

In today’s Klassekampen , the ship’s engineer writes that what the Israeli Embassy in Oslo has told the press about the incident has prompted a sense of outrage “in those of us who were on-board”. The following is my translation:

First of all, our purpose was to bring medical equipment to Gaza. The [Israelis] hijacked the ship 40 nautical miles off the coast of Egypt, in international waters. Hijacking a civilian ship engaged in a civilian mission in international waters is obviously in flagrant contravention of anything that has to do with maritime law. If Israeli authorities maintain they have a right to do so, they should provide documentation to the effect.

Furthermore, Israel maintains that unnecessary violence was not exerted. Briefly narrated, the incident occurred in the following manner: When the vessel was boarded by soldiers, an attempt was made to stand between them and the wheel house. Using their electroshock weapons,  beating and kicking, they broke through into the wheel house, so the captain stopped the machine. At the time, I was down in the engine room. When I clambered up, I was forced into the wheel house by two gun-toting soldiers. One of them demanded my wrist watch and put it into his pocket.

Several soldiers were with the captain in the wheel house. The atmosphere was charged. They were ordering the captain to start the engine again, but that was something he could not do from there. One of the soldiers struck me in the face (I’m 70 years old) and told me to go down and restart the engine. However, I only take orders from my captain. Then one of the soldiers shouted (verbatim) “If you do not start that fucking engine your captain will suffer a lot.” So I got the engine going. Nonetheless, the captain was subjected to considerable violence. They also threatened they could  “turn him into a martyr as they did with Palestinians”. A soldier went to the mast, tore down the Norwegian flag (vessels are, as we all know, required to carry the national flag – it was not hanging there for decorative purposes), hurled it onto the deck and stamped on it.

When we were ordered to go ashore, we were told that our luggage would be returned to us when we left. It turned out that the watch episode was not an isolated one: When we were released, we received basically empty pieces of luggage. Mobile phones, cameras, tablets, wallets, money, satellite phones, clothes, watches … everything, worth hundreds of thousands of NOK, was gone. Obviously we were incensed, but the guards just laughed at us. One of them sniggered, dangling one of my two remaining (soiled) underpants in front of me.

What is the ambassador’s view on this? I also direct this question to my government. They have asked for an “explanation” from the Israeli authorities. Our Foreign Ministry should invite us who were on board to thoroughly walk through the entire incident with them, but we have not heard from them.”

So much for Israeli observance of international codes of conduct. As for my own government… I say no more.

May 142018
 

… and still counting.

The emperor and his henchmen seem determined to unleash a new world war. I am not, for the moment, referring to the latest insults against Iran (though the gods above know there is reason to). I am asking myself: Where does he want all the Palestinians to go? Does he expect Palestinians whose homes on the west bank get demolished by occupant settlers and those who get evicted from their homes in East Jerusalem to go quietly?  And where should they go? Or does it seem ok to just continue killing them?

Meanwhile, it has come to my attention that people are hearing two very different versions of the Palestine story. Two stories, in fact. You might think they were about two very different issues. In one of the stories there is no mention of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 adopted on December 11, 1948, which reads:

…that refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.

There are also a lot of other pretty important details that are left out of the story told in the US and Israel. Obviously, in the heat of the day, people will exaggerate, will be tempted to distort facts, and listeners will innocently repeat the fallacies they hear, so misconceptions are bound to get spread to a large public.

But in this, as in a number of other issues, there is more afoot than what can be explained as overly enthusiastic storytelling: One side is deliberately and systematically doctoring the story, and I am not only  referring to hawkish Israelis, but to the born-again Christians that make up much of the Zionist Lobby in the US. To many fundamentalist Christians, the “Holy Land” appears to mean as much as to fundamentalist Jews; for them human Law, not to mention international law, appears not to apply to the Holy Land. It must at all costs be saved from the “infidels”. (Nevermind that many Palestinians are Christian, too.)

I am not sufficiently well informed about the sway of born-again Christians in the US, but I understand that they were largely to blame for the rise to presidency of the remarkably ignorant and incompetent George W. Bush. To manage such a feat they must have very great power, I reason.

The fact that Israeli hawkish politicians spread all kinds of untruths about the “enemy” is understandable. So would leading politicians of any country at war. What is interesting, though, is that the majority of the Israeli public want peace. So they must be told that the enemy is a serious threat to national security. Because the hawks do not, repeat – not – want peace. They want more land.

The majority of the Palestinians also want peace, but not at any cost. Yet, the Palestinian and the Israeli authorities are not, as you see, eagerly negotiating peace, and we are told that the Palestinians are to blame for this. Yet there have been serious efforts in the past, and if Israel had not had the undivided support of the US, there would probably have been a peace accord.

This is where the Zionist Lobby comes in. The Lobby has sway on US foreign policy. The US has sway over NATO, and NATO defines my country’s foreign policy.

Any peace agreement would have to be on Israel’s terms, you see, and Israel wants the West Bank (preferably without Palestinians in it). The US supports Israel, in all conceivable shapes and forms, not least financially, and a large part of the world cannot afford to challenge the US on this score, or for that matter on any other score, as we have seen since the mad hatter came to power. The outcome of a peace agreement on Israel’s terms would, for Palestine, be nill, the end.

Nill. We are not talking about compromise here. We are talking about extermination. Extermination of Palestine. I suspect that Palestinians living on the West Bank would be given the option of leaving (they would certainly not be welcomes as refugees to Europe) or of becoming second degree citizens of Israel, without the same rights as Jews.

This is the story as I understand it: The options are pretty bleak for Palestinians and Israel would go down in history as being guilty of genocide.

Today I stumbled across a site that seemed interesting. I am, after all accusing the US of enabling Israel to continue occupying neighbouring territories and ultimately of genocide. The site is not updated anymore, but exploring its innumerable pages, I found much historically interesting material. I have not explored it at length, so I cannot vouch for it, but I found its Mission Statement attactive. http://ifamericaknew.org/about_us/

 

 

Dec 062017
 

The website of El Pais had an unusual headline this morning, one that seemed to suggest an alliance between the Pope and Iran: “El Papa e Irán se unen al intento de evitar que Trump lleve la Embajada a Jerusalén“. Later in the day, El País changed the headline, but the fact remains that Iran and the Pope agree on one score, at least.

This is a memorable day. Not only did the Pope and Iran appear to join forces, if only for a brief moment, but Finland is celebrating the centenary of its independence, and Trump ended, presumably once and for all, any US pretence of being an honest broker in the affairs of the Middle East. Trump’s announcement today, when he declared that henceforward the US embassy in Israel will be in Jerusalem, paved the way for a great leap in terms of Russian and Chinese hegemony, something you may or may not welcome.

For my part I doubt there is less injustice and poverty in Russia and China than in the US. Moreover, much as I criticise the US, this much must be said for the country: I am absolutely sure that it treats political opponents far more leniently than Russia and China.

However, outside the country, the record of disastrous US interventions all over the world knows no parallel. I put to you that accumulated US crimes against humanity, or complicity in such crimes, outnumber even those of WWII Germany.

Moreover, there is every indication that human impact on the climate will see dramatic consequences within a very short space of time. The US has turned its back on the Paris accord, whereas China seems determined to make a tremendous effort to help save the climate, and that may perhaps be worth more than political freedom. We shall see. All indicators appear to suggest that saving the climate may be worth considerable sacrifice.

Back to Jerusalem: The speech held today by the Emperor could have been written by one of Netanyahu’s script writers. It was not so much about America and American interests as about Israel, which it lauded at length as a successful democracy.

Now I assume that what is usually implied when we speak of “democracies” is not merely the right to drop a piece of paper in a ballot box. I have never been to Israel, so I must ask: Is Israel a democracy?

In Israel, are all permanent residents, regardless of race, gender or religion,

  • equal in every way before the law?
  • equally allowed to purchase and keep property and to keep inherited property?
  • equally entitled to education, health care, employment and social services?
  • equally entitled to the protection of the courts and law enforcement?

If the answer to all of these question is “yes”, well, then Israel has made, unbeknownst to me, a very good start and merely faces the challenge of upholding the law. There are some other industrialised  countries that also find this difficult, most notably the USA, where blacks need to remind the public that “black lives matter”. Racism is not theoretically condoned in the USA, so I suspect that discrimination of blacks is also a consequence of a political  system that systematically favours the wealthy and chastises the poor.

But if the answer to any of these questions is “no”, the country is not a democracy, but something rather more systemically antediluvian, governed by rules that are alien to the industrialised world, though still, perhaps common in some primitive societies.

If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, I repeat, Israel is pursuing a path that is alien to the common good, I’m afraid,  one that is similar to and as ignoble as that of systemic anti-Semitism.

 

Apr 172016
 

I would like to stress that only 57 percent of the respondents of an Israeli survey found that it was OK to shoot and kill an incapacitated Palestinian lying on the ground. The other 43 per cent found that it was not OK at all, and that the soldier who did the killing, the executing, I should say, should be punished, even though the Palestinian in question had actually attacked him with an axe.

Moreover, it has come to my attention that there are even some Israeli soldiers who have taken the brave step of publishing, anonymously, of course, what they think of such actions in Breaking the Silence.

I also happen to know for certain that not all Israelis think it is OK to forcibly evict people from East Jerusalem, by literally dragging them out of their houses, just because they happen to belong to a different “race”. Not all Israelis think it’s OK to base political geography on 2000 year old legend, or even on vindictiveness (understandable as  rancour may be) not least since the victim, the Palestinians, had nothing to do with the injustice Jews have had to endure in Europe for centuries.

Had we all insisted on our country’s retaking the land it had at any given point of time (presumably when our country was at it’s apogee, which might not coincide with the apogee of other countries) none of us would be where we are – assuming we had been anywhere at all; we would probably all have killed each other off a long time ago.

Maybe that would have been for the best, and even pleasing to the fierce Jewish God, because then there would have been no desperate poverty, and no bands of heavily armed barbarians shattering cities and kidnapping schools of little girls, and then we wouldn’t have managed to exterminate so many other other species.

But again I repeat: Not all Israelis condone what I consider a still ongoing genocide. Certainly, all American Jews don’t either. In fact, I believe only a minority of American Jews condone Israel’s barbaric treatment of Palestinians. I think it is very important to bear this in mind, not least now when so many people (not least many Palestinians) are losing faith in the feasibility of a two-state solution.