No more than 3 days ago, did Liv Tørres the general secretary of the Norwegian People’s Aid say the following in relation to the call for boycotting the annual telethon
– The Telethon engages very many and contributes to clearing mines and cluster bombs in 6 countries. The goal of this telethon unites many congregations. We a a party political neutral organization and support a two state solution in the Middle East. The Norwegian People’s Aid has never been an anti-Semitic organization.
On the account of party political neutral, everybody was laughing at such a blatant lie, the Norwegian People’s Aid is a subsidiary of the The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions, which historically happens to be the greatest and most influential donor to the Labour Party.
Norwegian People’s Aid is politically independent but not a politically neutral organisation. We take clear positions in important social debates and our goal of a more just world means that we often choose partners that may be opposed to, or in conflict with, those in power. Popular participation and organisation are important measures in securing human rights and giving people greater influence over their own lives and social development. Norwegian People’s Aid both supports and speaks on behalf of its partner organisations.
We have written on Fagforbundet (The Norwegian United Federation of Trade Unions) before. Fagforbundet is a subsidiary of the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions. They are not even apologetic about their anti-Israel stance.
The editor in chief for the pamphlet and director of communication at the Norwegian People’s Aid Tor Henrik Andersen says in an interview with IDag that
It is true that the pamphlet is not a complete narrative about the conflict in the Middle East. We have not even tried to achieve this. The pamphlet is conceived as an to introduction to how Palestinians experience the conflict, from a Palestinian perspective.
The purpose of the pamphlet is to contribute to popular information and create debate and attention around the conflict and the consequences is has for the civilian population. This is so far the first pamphlet that narrates everyday stories from Palestinians and their experience of living in a state of constant conflict and how this affect their every day life. What we experience in our everyday life in Gaza is a population that is subjected to collective punishment through the illegal blockade.
– how do you comment allegations regarding factual errors in the pamphlet?
– It is possible to discuss the historical angle and use of language. with regard to the concrete claims regarding the costs of the separation wall, I will have to check this more in detail, but I think the number is based on costs that have been made available by Israeli authorities, including construction, maintenance and security related to the wall .
That Norad also has thrown in money in this repugnant propaganda rag only serves to cement the impression that official Norway is after Israel, the money coming after all from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, yet another example that FM Støre talks one way with regards to Israel, but walks a very opposite way to the same topic!
The Union is advocating that Israel should cease to exist as a Jewish state, thus depriving Jews the only refuge they have in the world, says MIFF’s Conrad Myrland, after reading the contents of the pamphlet “The Palestinians: The struggle for freedom .”
– The pamphlet appears to be chemically cleansed of Israeli arguments and viewpoints. The fact that a Norwegian trade unions engages so profoundly and delivers such a propagandistic pamphlet is tragic. I urge members to protest strongly against this, Myrland, the general manager for With Israel for Peace (MIFF), says.
He thinks Laila Bødal’s decision to resign as representative and withdraw as a member in protest of the pamphlet, is commendable. I recommend other members too, leave the union in protest.
– It is one thing if this was the first time the Union came out with such a one-sided approach, but this is part of a comprehensive and consistent campaign they are running. As they do not show the same level of commitment in other conflicts around the world one must ask oneself what drives them, says Myrland.
– It seems as if the Union is obsessed with conflicts where Israel is involved, he said.
Wants political influence
The 120-page publication, “The Palestinians: The struggle for freedom continues” is signed by fagforbundet and the Norwegian People’s Aid. Thecommunications director of Norwegian People’s Aid’s, Tor-Henrik Andersen, is editor in chief. The cover states that it would not have been possible to publish the pamphlet without Union contributions. The booklet has also received government support through Norad.
– The Palestinians need our voice in the struggle against Israeli occupation and repeated violations of UN resolutions and conventions, the Union boss Jan Davidsen writes in the preface.
– Read, learn and participate actively in the discussions, he urges.
The Chairman of the Board of the Norwegian People’s Aid, Finn Erik Thoresen, writes in his preface that they are happy to stand with the Union to influence policy and public opinion in Norway. He claims that the Palestinians “have lost large swaths of their country over a century .”
The booklet contains a summary of the history of the Israeli-Arab conflict for 100 years, from the Palestinian Arab side. The booklet contains a series of interviews with individuals on the Palestinian side, but none on the Israeli side. The pamphlet calls for a destruction of the separation fence cant that all Palestinian refugees and their descendants have the right to return to the area where they once lived.
“Approximately 83 percent of Palestinians fled from what is now Israel. All of these and their descendants have the right to return, “the pamphlet states.
This, in Conrad Myrlands opinion is the most serious of the pamphlet’s allegations.
– Not only do they repeat several old accusations against Israel, but they also advocate solutions that in effect would deny the Jews their only safe haven in the world. This is very serious. This view, promoted by Fagforbundet, means that Israel would cease to exist as a Jewish state, he said.
– All political parties in Israel agree that there can be no talk of return for any of these. There are no other groups of refugees from other conflicts in the world in the decades after World War II that have such a right to return, he said.
– Extremely one-sided
– The booklet is an extremely one-sided storytelling as marred by omissions and plain factual errors, according to Conrad Myrland.
– For example, they say that every kilometer of the security barrier costs about two billion dollars to build. In other words, they claim that it costs NOK s 11 million to build 1 meter wall or fence.
– Anyone will know how absurd this is, and it says all you need to know about the level of accuracy in this pamphlet.
He also points out that the security barrier, which mostly consists of a fence, consistently referred to as “the wall”.
– They write that “the wall and buffer zones” will occupy 46 percent of the West Bank when it is finished. This is not correct. It is about about ten percent, says Myrland.
“The wall must go”
“Israel calls the wall a security barrier to prevent suicide bombers from crossing into Israel. In reality, the wall is a political project to secure Israel as much land with as few Palestinians as possible, ” the booklet states.
On the contrary, Myrland believes thatIsrael’s positioning of the security barrier shows their willingness to compromise in a peace settlement.
– What these Palestinians and their friends on the political left sees as something Israel has usurped, will in Israel be perceived as an expression they sincerely want the Palestinians to have self-government and fend for themselves. The way the barrier has been built, clearly shows that Israel does not have ambitions to retain the entire West Bank. The barrier is close to the armistice lines of 1949, including major settlement blocs, which in Israel enjoys a board political consensus that would belong to Israel in a future peace settlement, Myrland says.
“There is a widespread myth that Israel left behind a free Gaza,” the booklet states, and accuses Israel of closing borders for persons and goods, in addition to military operations and imposing the naval blockade.
– If you look at what is happening inside Gaza, most things suggest that Israel has little control over the area. It’s not a single Jew or Israeli left there, says Myrland.
– Clearly there are limits on how far out ships can go, and the naval borders are carefully monitored , but these measures have been put in place for a reason to prevent arms smuggling, and terrorist attacks against Israel. Gaza has a border with Egypt, who has enforced equally strict controls since Hamas took power in a bloody coup.Yet it is only Israel that is criticized for control of its borders, he continued.
Palestine before 1947?
“In 1947, Palestine was a coherent geographic entity subject to the UK. 1.3 million Palestinians and 650,000 Jews lived here. On November 11, 1947 the UN adopted a decision to divide the land between Jews and Arabs. This had disastrous consequences. Two years later, 750,000 Palestinians had fled, the State of Israel was established and controlled 77 percent of historic Palestine. The rest was divided between Egypt and Jordan. ” The Palestinians got no state, “it is claimed in the booklet.
– The use of the term “Historic Palestine” gives the impression that a Palestinian state ever existed. To call the Arab population in the area for Palestinians in the first half of the 1900s is as wrong as calling Jews living in the area at the same time Israelis. It is widely recognized that it was only from the 1960s that the Palestinian-Arabic nationalist movements became a force to reckon with. There was a desire for independence also in the period between the wars, but then they played up their Arab identity, Myrland says.
– The Jews who lived in the British mandate area was at least as much Palestinian as Arabs who lived there. The Arabs at first refused to call themselves Palestinians, while Jews usually spoke of themselves as Palestinian Jews, he adds.