The Norwegian PA funding scandal now also picked in Miami

Frida Ghitis: Norway’s second thoughts on Palestinian aid

Published: March 11, 2013 Updated 23 hours ago


Frida Ghitis is a contributing columnist for the Miami Herald.


By FRIDA GHITIS — The Miami Herald

A fierce debate about aid to the Palestinian Authority has erupted in Norway, one of the Palestinians’ strongest supporters in Europe. Suddenly, an urgent level of scrutiny is bringing into question whether Oslo’s aid might be making peace less likely, rather than more.

Norway has opened its wallet to the Palestinian Authority, contributing more than $50 million a year since 2008. The money has gone into the PA’s budget, with some funds helping to pay for Palestinian Television. Norwegians recently got a taste of PA-TV programming and its impact and the experience was shocking. This has sparked a political battle and a wave of soul-searching with potentially major ramifications.

The Israeli group Palestinian Media Watch monitors and translates Palestinian television, and it has long argued that its programming is poisoning the well, demonizing Israel and the Jews to their own people, even as Palestinian leaders speak of peace and reconciliation to international audiences.

Perhaps because PMW is Israeli, European critics of Israel are quick to dismiss it. But a respected reporter for Norway’s top news organization, NRK’s Tormod Strand, decided to investigate. Because he is an impartial observer, what he discovered should make everyone, not just Norwegians, sit up and take notice.

NRK broadcast Strand’s documentary, shocking many Norwegians and triggering intense parliamentary debates. The NRK investigation, showed not only the material PA-TV is broadcasting, but the troubling views it generates among its viewers.

Norwegian viewers heard PA-TV tell its audience that, “The Prophet says: ‘You shall fight the Jews and kill them.’?” They saw Palestinian children on PA-TV chanting “Our enemy, Zion, is Satan with a tail.” They saw Palestinian “documentaries” perpetuating pernicious stereotypes, blaming the Jews for the worst moments in European history. explaining over grainy black and white historical footage, how “Faced with the Jews’ schemes, Europe could not bear their character traits, corruption.?.?.?”

Strand spoke with Palestinians in the streets of Ramallah. Their views, he discovered, aligned neatly with the messages from PA-TV. His report showed Palestinians completely convinced that the old Russian anti-Semitic forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” is real, unquestioningly believing it provides proof that “Jews are planning to control the world.”

Norwegians see themselves as champions of the downtrodden, and would like to believe their generous aid advances the creation of a Palestinian state and the chances for reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.

What they saw is their money funding a message machine that accomplishes precisely the opposite.

Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide says Norway’s money is crucial to bring about a two-state solution. He says Norwegian officials contacted PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who promised to pursue the matter. But Palestinians blamed the report on Israeli “incitement” against them.

Norwegian members of parliament are not dropping the subject. A spokesman for the Progress Party, second largest in the legislature, called for Norway to withdraw funding “unless the PA takes immediate actions to stop this type of hate message.” Other opposition parties, including the Christian Democrats and Conservatives, agreed.

New scrutiny has also brought attention to the Palestinian Authority’s practice of paying salaries, sometimes large salaries, to Palestinian prisoners, including those sentenced for multiple murders of Israelis. Member of Parliament Peter Gitmark told NRK-TV that Norway is indirectly contributing to terrorism by helping fund the salaries of convicted killers. “This is very serious,” he warned, noting that the payments to prisoners grow larger with the length of the sentence, which means perpetrators of the worst acts receive more of what the NRK interviewer pointed out is “Norwegian tax money.”

Gitmark called on the parliament’s Scrutiny Committee to investigate the matter.

Norway’s extraordinary moment of introspection deserves close attention from other donors. The PA receives hundreds of millions from the U.S., the European Union, the U.K., France and others.

The answer is not to cut off the Palestinian Authority from all aid. The appropriate response is to make the aid contingent on behavior that promotes reconciliation.

The PA, which governs the West Bank, is the only current alternative to Hamas, the militant Islamist organization that rules Gaza and rejects Israel’s existence. The PA should be supported and strengthened, but only if it will reject the ideology of hatred. Any other response from donors, as Norway is discovering, amounts to sending money to fight against peace.


Frida Ghitis writes about global affairs for The Miami Herald. Readers may send her email at

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8 comments for “The Norwegian PA funding scandal now also picked in Miami

  1. Ellen
    March 12, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    This is gooood! *Munches popcorn and watches sh*t hit the fan*

  2. Martin
    March 13, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    eter Gitmark is wrong in suggesting that Norway is funding indirectly to salaries of convicted Arab terrorists. Norway is paying directly, and the elite has known about it for years and has denied this information. Very often demonising the messenger for publicising this information. Well, the cat is out of the bag and I am sure there will be further excuses and further lies until it all quietens down ans more tax payers money will continue to fund the largest most corrupt and terror group in the world.

    To say that the PA wants a real peace is full of horse manure. We all know this s rubbish and how can anyone discuss anything with a group that refuses to recognise and deny your very existance? what nonsense. The PA has been a huge bottomless pit in which many $billions and probaby $trillions have vanished into the extraordinary large bank accounts of people like Arafat etc.

    Remember Arafat’s widow Suha receives an annual stipend of $16 million to keep shtum and remain on the island of Malta. Eric R, you once dsuggested how much money was needed to pay this annual sum. Will you please remind our readers, who may then question Eide and others just why their money continues to fund this bloated corrupt organisation?

  3. : )
    March 14, 2013 at 3:19 am

    I think you are correct on this. As long as one think its ok in the elite that a group of people tells about their missery and give them credits for it, this show will just continue for ever. I had a reall laught about this man:–39756.html?xtor=RSS-2#.UUGh-BwhhIE

    Its sad that he lost his job, but at the same time it shows that not everyone care about publicity and fame. I respect more this firm that stands for what they believe in. One can disslike it but one knows what one get : ) Same goes for Israel one can disslike that they are a so powerfull state in a unstable region, but one know pretty much what one can expect. If I see that the well paid UN people should have a easy day at work! Why make problems that are not there?

  4. de Bacle
    March 14, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Martin, point well taken

    The striking issue here is that Norway’s economic support is and continues to be unconditional. It doesn’t make sense.

  5. : )
    March 14, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    de Bacle,
    Norway as a secular state has to figure out if it can continue to exuse the PA with their culture(what ever that is) and religion(s) for creating terror and hate to fight Israel. The unions should at least support Taliban if they support Hamas : )
    What a circus McG, you know how to drag all kind of people into the light. This was new madness to me : )

    de Bacle just say what you think make sense to people that has a different opinion than you. If it gets to unplesant its ok to say: we have to agree that we dissagree and just smile. Grown ups can live with dissagremets.

  6. Martin
    March 15, 2013 at 8:45 am

    De Bacle, unfortunately, it does make sense. Norway is an extraorinarily wealthy country due to it’s physical location in withdrawing oil and gas from the North Sea. Let us be honest, without this new found wealth, Norway would still be a relatively small country stuck onto the tip of Scandinavia.

    Due to this wealth, it is able to pursue it’s political ambitions of punching abobe it’s weight. Due to Israeli leftwingers naive trust of fellow leftwingers in Norway, they allowed themselves to be used for their own ends. Even now, the cry of treason against Peres and cohorts is still heard in Israel after the debacle of the disastroud for Israel Oslo Accords (The Prof very kindly published my article listing all those Norwegians involved in the Act).

    It must be aware that this money, including the $billions from the USA, EU,(and countries within giving seperately) UN, Japan and of course the blackmailed oil produicing countries has bever been acccountreed for.

    The EU is still unable to finalise it’s financial accounts for many years due to its inability to prove howe the taxes are spent. Norway and the other countries and organisations are no better. So long as the PLO and then the PA has enough money to spend its war against Israel, the money will concontinue to be poured into the bottomless pit.

    The Fakestiniands have more financial, political, social and moral aid pourfed in than all the other real refugees crises put together. I have mentioned before that the US STate Dept was concerned enough in the late 1990’s to question where their money had gone. The PLO/PA has never accounted the funding, nor spent it wisely for the benefit of its people, unlike the paltry in comparison amounts that Jews have sent to Israel.

    I do hope, as Ellen says, the shit will hit the fan. however, as it is Norway, I am sure it will be a small shit hitting a large fan so the result will be tiny. Good uck to theFrP

  7. Eric R.
    March 17, 2013 at 9:59 am

    I am surprised that the Miami Herald would print this, being (like most American newspapers) a left-wing propaganda rag.

  8. Martin
    March 19, 2013 at 6:24 am

    Eric any idea what’s happened to Henry?

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