2014 12 08 at 2230 hours
Summary and part transcript.
Presentation of Ben Dror,
Gaza situation and Israeli/UN inquiries the first out of two stories (22:30 to 22:46).
“Studio host, Hege Moen Eriksen: “Gaza is more desperate than ever. A people is living in the ruins that were ones their homes. The bombing from the war will now be investigated, but why is it only Israel that needs to take the heat, asks our guest tonight.”
Images of bombing and the destruction by Israel.
“Israel starts its own investigations of possible war crimes, but Palestinians have little faith that it will be neutral. And in Jerusalem, the riots are harming the Christmas tourism season. Many people are afraid of travelling there.
Tonight we will go to Gaza where the reconstruction is standing at a still. Where discouragement grows in the ruins, and where many are facing the coming winter without roofs above their head. From Gaza we have our Middle East correspondent, Sigurd Falkenberg Mikkelsen, and Sigurd you were there 3 months ago during the war, how is it there now?”
ME reporter Sigurd Falkenberg Mikkelsen (SFM) live from Gaza: “I think that in some aspects it’s even worse here now. During the war there was a desperate fight to survive, while now only the hopelessness remains. People feel abandoned by the world. I was earlier today in Shujaiyya, one of the areas which was hit the most, it is still a big pile of ruins. There are a few people who try to live in what is left of their homes and to survive the best way they can. Others try to collect enough money for rent to live somewhere else. While some people have sought refuge in schools across Gaza, where still more than 30 000 refugees live. It is a desperate and hopeless situation. And no one that I have met has seen anything of those billions of money that was promised at the Norwegian lead Cairo conference in October. And as you can see behind me it is pitch dark, because the electricity for Gaza has been shut down tonight. That happens often here.
Studio host: “We see now that Israel is starting their own investigations to attacks made during the Gaza war this summer. The UN human right’s council has already started investigations to possible war crimes on both sides, but Israel refuses to cooperate and accuses the council for being prejudiced.
Anette Groth report: “The reconstruction process after 50 days of war is long (showing images of reconstruction, machines etc). In the ruins of the family home in Gaza sits Hussain Abu Jama (showing this in images, his daughter walking among the rubble). In the attack on the house, 27 people were killed. This attack will now be investigated by the Israelis.”
Hussain Abu Jama: “Shall Israel compensate for my losses? Shall Israel give me money? Is that supposed to make amends for the loss of my mother, children, brothers and other relatives?”
Reporter Anette Groth: “In the Israeli attacks during the Gaza war more than 2000 Palestinians were killed, the most of them civilians (images of Israeli attacks). Israel believes that Hamas is responsible for civilian losses because they fired their rockets from heavily populated neighborhoods (shows images of Hamas rocket pads and firing of rockets, Gaza ambulance personnel). On Israeli side 60 to 70 soldiers were killed, and 6 civilians killed (showing Israeli soldiers and tanks). Palestinian health personnel were working around the clock (showing images of ambulances, ambulance personnel, doctors, people running in the streets, wounded people). They have no belief in the internal investigations in Israel.
Bushar Murad, ambulance driver Red Crescent: “It will be a one-sided investigation. Nobody has contacted us about this. But the Red Crescent in Palestine has reported to the international Red Cross on all attacks on our personnel and facilities.”
Reporter Groth: “In the meanwhile the talks about peace continues, or rather about the lack of peace (shows SS Kerry). The think tank, Brookings, gathered central players in Washington this weekend.” (shows images of the event)
PM Netanyahu: “The talks ended because the Palestinians wanted them to end. The talks ended because, unfortunately President Abbas chose a pact with Hamas over peace with Israel.”
Isaac Herzog: “I think that it’s a mistake that we already assume it is over. It is part of the tragedy that enfolds in front of our eyes. It is not true, I’m telling you. Absolutely. It is possible, absolutely possible to still to make peace with the Palestinians.”
Kerry: “I won’t give up, but I hope it will not take less than a miracle. I believe it can. That is my personal belief.”
Reporter: “In Gaza there are few things that looks like peace (images of destruction). The need for reconstruction is huge.
Studio hostess introduces Ben Dror at 22:35 to 22:40. Talks about the Israeli investigations, the singling out of Israel, reference to NATO attacks, Kosovo, the refugee issue and a new Israeli government..
Back to SFM in Gaza on the peace process effects on Gaza: “It’s here in Gaza that you can feel it the most. It effects you the most here. That means that the blockade is only continuing with a minimal of future prospects for the people who live here. That results in a desperation that I have not encountered before. For example we see for the first time boat refugees from Gaza. We have never seen this in the long history of half a century of war and conflict here.”
Studio hostess: “More than a 100 000 people are without homes and the winter is coming, what can one do?”
SFM: “with the winter also comes a lot of rain. What you need first is cement. Cement in order to rebuild the houses, but only a minimum of cement is entering Gaza now, much less than before the war, despite the agreement being made. There are several reasons for that; one things is that Egypt has closed the smuggle tunnels where lots of cement came through before the war, second it is the mechanism that the international community and Israel have negotiated on the import of cement to Gaza. It is very complicated. House owners have to apply for a long time in advance, they need to get security checked. Israel want to avoid the cement getting in to the hands of Hamas. They believe that Hamas is using it for military facilities. The result is that very little construction material enter Gaza, and it will take several decades to rebuild Gaza. Not to speak of the restoration. That makes the people totally desperate. They don’t get to rebuild their homes, and they don’t know to do in the time ahead.”
Studio hostess: “What about the political implications, perhaps the most difficult for the Palestinians is the internal split between Hamas in Gaza and the PA in the WB. IS there any hope of a unification?”
SFM: “There is a complete, official confusion on the unity government established before the war, whether it still exists or not. In reality here in Gaza there is no unity government. Salaries are not paid, there is a strike in the health services, there are no police in the streets. For my part, it seems that both parties, Hamas and Fatah, are trying to score political points on the conflict. Hamas prolonged the conflict this summer. President Abbas and his rule do not seem keen on making any improvements in Gaza, to get money here hoping that it will weaken Hamas. It is mainly the civilian population that suffers due to this game, and you can notice on some people here that the focus of much of the other conflict, the one with Israel and the blockade, loses its focus.
Studio hostess: “We are going from Gaza to the West Bank and Jerusalem. Christmas is usually a good time for those who are working in the tourism industry in the country, but this year the situation has turned. The Gaza War and the riots in Jerusalem has made many people scared of travelling there.
Reporter, Groth: Images from a souvenir shop with tourists: “there are fewer tourists now, and the souvenir sellers must take every opportunity to sell.”
Show owner, Maher Kanawati: “We have experienced a decline since the war in Gaza, and now we hear about cancellations due to what is going on in Jerusalem. We hope that it will calm down in Jerusalem so that the tourist will start arriving again.”
Reporter, Groth: “There have been weeks of clashes and killings in Jerusalem (images of Palestinians fleeing from tear gas shouting Allahu Akbar). At the core of the conflict is the Temple Mount, or Haram al Sharif, as the Palestinians call it. It is a holy place for both Jews and Muslims (images from the area). But the demand by Orthodox Jews caused the unrest (images of religious Jews singing and praying, Jews walking near the Temple Mount, then the sound of tear gas and Muslim women and children fleeing the scene, then heavy armed Israeli police).
Palestinian minister of tourism, Rula Ma’ayha: “Many tourists are scared because of what is going on in Jerusalem. We hope that those who cancel will not stay away forever. Palestine is something unique.”
Reporter, Groth: “Yes the holy places, like the Nativity Church, is something special (images of the church). The tourism industry here hope that people will not stay away for too long.”
Bergens Tidende 2014 12 07
Also in other news sources.
Syrian government accuses Israel over air raids in Damascus suburbs. Material damage, no casualties reported.
“Israel has avoided taking any sides in the war in Syria; rarely confirming air raids, a policy intended to avoid provoking retaliatory attacks”.
ABC Nyheter 2014 12 07
Quoting UNDOF and Ha’aretz, this article makes claims IDF has been in regular contact with Syrian rebel forces for at least 18 months. Contacts include meetings and treatment of wounded rebels; also it is claimed Israel has opened border for two undisclosed rebels to pass and transferred “two crates” of undisclosed materiel to rebels, IDF will not confirm any of this.
THE DESTINY ELECTION
Dagbladet 2014 12 05 p 12
Jan Erik Smilden
Jan Erik Smilden writes on the forthcoming elections; using this opportunity to vent his spleen on Israeli politics and politicians.
“If the Israelis accept this legislation; Palestinians will formally become second class citizens, and we shall see the contours of an Apartheid state”.
“The government’s legal proposal removes Arab as a second language, define Israel as a homeland of the Jewish people, stating Zionist values are given prerogative ahead of the democratic”.
Verdens Gang 2014 12 05 p 3
Per Olav Ødegård
Op-ed on the forthcoming elections in Israel; describing Israeli politics as akin to TV show “House of Cards”; and also predicting present day PM Benjamin Netanyahu is likely to be the victor of the elections.
LO Aktuelt, issue no. 20 of 2014, p 60, 61
The magazine of trade union LO has several feature articles on religion in this issue; actually of a high quality, treating religion and religious views with respect. Amongst those interviewed are Knut Marius Gaarder and Ervin Kohn, who are quoted extensively.
“Jews have a competence in being a minority. This lies in their genes. They have been persecuted in Europe throughout 2000 years”; Ervin Kohn says.
Being the leader of the Jewish community; Ervin Kohn does not maintain a low profile. He holds it to be of importance to work contrary to this; information being important to the Norwegian community at large and the Jewish minority. Ervin Kohn is the deputy leader of the Anti-Racist Center; working in the communications field.
“Among Jews, you are to keep under the radar, being well integrated. Not keeping a high profile, rocking the boat. This is an old protective mechanism”, Kohn holds as his opinion. Himself, he is born in Budapest.
Shop manager and a Social Democrat.
At work, Knut Marius Gaarder experience few problems over his Jewish background. He is safely grounded on the left side of politics, has a background with the Israeli peace movement, and generally is in agreement with criticism of the country. Like the LO; He holds a two state solution to be necessary in the Middle East. He is a shop manager to the security guards at Gardermoen airport, in the labor union of common workers (Arbeidsmandsforbundet); at times he has been a profiled strike leader and Labor Party politician. He is clear on his attitudes towards Israeli policies in the Middle East question:
“I hold Israeli present day policies of expanded settlements and bombing to be an obstacle to a negotiated solution”; Gaarder points out.
His experience is his Jewish background being a hindrance to being heard, among parts of the trade union movement.
Can’t see the difference between apples and pears.
“I am not much of a pro-Israeli; on the contrary I am against much of what the State of Israel is doing. Never the less, I am not taken for serious if I attempts to put nuances on the debate when anti-Semite arguments are being used. Having a doctorate in Middle East sciences; I hold to be knowledgeable enough to make a statement. I am regarded as not having objective views, due to being Jewish. At best this is stigmatizing and unpleasant”, Gaarder elaborates.
“These attitudes are to be found within the trade union movement. This often makes me chose not to tell I am Jewish. I do not want to be credited over something I does not hold to be my opinion. To some, it appears to be a greater problem that I am Jewish than sharing their views on Israel. Many will not openly tell of being Jewish, mainly this is because they experience anti-Jewish sentiments with many Norwegians. This is something you share with friends”, Gaarder says.
Socialism and equality.
“Within Judaism all humans are equally valuable; as God has created all mankind in his image. Jews are not more valuable; they only have other commitments. Jewry is built upon socialist principles of equality. Karl Marx and Trotsky were Jewish. Many Jews were among the Russian revolutionaries”; Ervin Kohn explains.
On today’s political situation (Israel/Palestine) he holds the Norwegian trade union movement to be suffering from tunnel vision; being unable to see both sides in the conflict. There will be two losers or two victors. It is important to encourage both parties; and reprimanding both parties. Set demands to both parties. Challenge both parties. He refers to himself as a friend of Palestine as well as a friend of Israel.
Within Judaism, there are several orientations; like with most religions. Among Norwegian Jews, few are Orthodox; following Sabbath rules and eating rules (Kosher) literally. Therefore, few problems arise in working life, concerning food or days off. Saturday is the Jewish day of rest; working on Saturdays is not accepted by Orthodox Jews. Conservative Jews recognize the rules to be of importance; yet are liberal when it comes to breaches of them, in spite of regarding this as sinful. Reform-Judaism arose in the 19th century; having renounced many of the duties, commands and bans not being regarded as binding anymore.
“Nor are we missionary; Jews having no prerogatives in the next life. Our role model is Abraham: being the one who took up a discussion with God. We raise questions; even over the existence of God”, Ervin Kohn says.
Se og Hør 2014 12 05
Celebrity Paris Hilton receives death threats by stalker; stalker named TMZ claims she is Jewish, and has expressed anti-Semite views in addition to threats against Paris.
Much to be said about Paris; but she is not Jewish. Actually she is of a Norwegian family, descending from a farm near the village of Kløfta. Her hair color and general looks should be a give-away.
Dagsavisen 2014 12 04 p 9
Labor party organization in Oslo demand Norway recognizes “Palestine”. However, central figures within the party, including Anniken Huitfeldt, are skeptical towards this.
(Kamzy Gunaratnam, deputy leader of the Oslo Labor Party)
”We feel it is high time for Norway to recognize Palestine. We cannot be on the wrong side of history”.
“The Labor Party has not made up a conclusion; we need a broadly based discussion on this. There are good arguments pro and contra. If we at some time, together with other countries, can bring the work with a two state solution forwards, there should be an aperture for a Norwegian recognition”.
Dagbladet 2014 12 04
Jan Erik Smilden
A long op-ed on the aftermath of the Arab Spring in Egypt-seeing the country as having returned to the Status Quo of the Mubarak days. He regards the regime of al Sisi to be certain of Western support in the future, due to the threat of IS aligned terrorism. Smilden harbors little hope over genuine democratic reform or developments in Egypt in the foreseeable future.
MOD of Norway
«Smart Power: Leadership through Inclusive Security».
Hillary Clinton and Ine Eriksen Søreide at Georgetown University, Washington DC. (FD)
Secretary Clinton, Ambassador Verveer, distinguished professors, dear students,
• I am grateful for this opportunity to share a few remarks on the issue of smart power and inclusive leadership. I met Melanne in Oslo a little over a week ago, discussing this conference. I greatly admire the work and effort you have been making in this field for years.
• A warm thank you also to the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. A spearhead in creating awareness and influence on women’s inclusion in peace and security processes.
• And I have to say to Secretary Clinton – she doesn’t know this – that she has a stake in me standing here. In 2009, I was a delegate at the UN General Assembly as a member of parliament. I attended a meeting Secretary Clinton was chairing on UNSCR 1325. In the middle of the meeting, my party chairman called and asked if I would like to become chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the parliament. I was so inspired by the Secretary’s leadership, that I said yes. I have never forgotten, and often used, the answer she gave when asked about violence against women. She said: “It’s not cultural, it’s criminal”.
• My aim this morning is to share with you some overarching points on inclusive security, and illustrate them with a small bundle of examples.
• But first a quick look at our surroundings to provide a backdrop: An increasingly unstable and complex world. Our values – the very principles of humanity and dignity, of human rights and the rule of law – bind us together across the Atlantic. But our core values are challenged in a number of areas by the forces aiming to destabilize the world. These forces are regressive by nature, undermining the progress we’ve made. Let me mention a few:
o Such forces are in play in Ukraine, where Russia has violated the fundamentals of international law through its illegal annexation of Crimea, and its continued destabilization of Ukraine.
o In the Middle East and beyond, where ISIL, through almost unthinkable atrocities aim at establishing a so-called caliphate that would in fact enslave its population in brutality and degredation, where women are reduced to mere commodities.
o In Nigeria, where Boko Haram are deliberately targeting civilians – including young schoolgirls – in their quest to establish an oppressive regime where they can strip civilians of their basic human rights.
• For us to succeed in meeting these challenges, we need strong value-based platform – based on human rights, and on the one basic truth that women’s rights are human rights, not something else, something in a different basket – something less. And we need to realize one thing: Even the most modest goals will not be reached unless we engage men. Personally, I get annoyed when we – women – seem to think (and we do all the time!) that the world will get better and male leaders will step up and take action when all we (women) do is to meet in seminars to talk about all the wrong things men do – with all women and no men in the room. Instead, we need to involve and engage men and convince them to become agents of change.
• An important part of such a value-based platform is UNSCR 1325. From the Norwegian government, we’re currently developing our third revised action plan on 1325, to be launched early in 2015. We are four ministers shaping it together. We’re benchmarking and measuring. When thinking smart about inclusive security, we’re in for the long haul. And we – all of us – have more or less just left the runway. We have a lot of work ahead, in all countries.
• But why do we engage? Because war and the struggle for peace and stability are too important to be left to men alone. Strong security needs to be inclusive security.
1) Women are overrepresented among those hardest hit when war and conflict rage, and underrepresented among those carving out solutions.
2) There can be no lasting peace when half the population is excluded from the decision-making processes. Women must have significant roles in conflict management and peace processes. Remember: Women are not only the victims – they’re also important actors.
• On that note: From a military and defence policy perspective, the 1325-agenda is not primarily about gender equality. It’s more specifically about capability and operational effectiveness. This is not a “sisters are doing it for themselves”-campaign. Instead, it’s a question of obtaining the best effect or result.
• Let me give you three examples, one from Afghanistan and two from Norway.
• Operational lessons from Afghanistan strongly suggest that a better gender balance in military units will improve performance, situational awareness and force protection.
o In Afghanistan, it’s the women – not powerful men at the provincial or local level – who carry with them the key to families and communities.
o Norwegian Special Forces are among those with the most extensive experience from Afghanistan. So, in Kabul, our SOF units over years have built a program where Afghan female police officers are being selected, trained and integrated as Police Counter Terrorist Operators. A very successful project that has provided high operational output.
o Applying a gender perspective in military operations can in other words be decisive in order to fulfill our mandate. It creates better access, and can crush the ceilings for local women making themselves heard in their own power structures.
• My first Norwegian example: Our Special Forces is also a unit with rigorous physical requirements. A number of female soldiers serve in the Special Forces, but not as SOF-operators. Even so, the SOF strongly advocates the operational value of female operators. So they are currently running a test-program to train and prepare a unit of female soldiers for the selection phase. These soldiers have been tested and selected in several rounds. 327 applied – 13 were in the end accepted – and they will again be able to compete with male applicants on equal footing for recruitment as SOF operators. The experiences so far are very good: The soldiers performed better mentally and physically than expected, and they’ve proven to have an even stronger sense of duty than their male colleges.
o Colonel Eirik Kristoffersen, the then commander of our Army Special Operation Command who had the idea and started this ground breaking work, was awarded the Armed Forces’ Gender Equality Price 2013 for this work. He’s now a student at the US Army War College as well as one of our most highly decorated soldiers after World War II, and I brought him with me here today. Eirik is a true agent of change.
• My second Norwegian example is about conscription. In October this year, we passed a law in parliament that gives universal military conscription, from January 1st next year. A gender-biased law on conscription has proven untenable in a modern, inclusive society. It meant missing out on half of the country’s human resources. This is an important step, but not sufficient. When rights are equally divided, duties need to be so as well.
• In 1985 Norway removed the combat exclusion rule. We still have challenges, but we also have strong role models on all levels, serving in all parts of our armed forces. Be it as submarine commanders or door gunners, they’re in their positions because they’re the best ones for the job. Last year Elise Toft was the first woman since World War II to receive a highly rated decoration for her actions in combat in Afghanistan. She underlined one thing strongly: She was awarded the medal for her accomplishments as a soldier, not as a woman.
• My ambition is that stories such as these will replace biased myths on inclusive security being “soft”, or that women in the military are simply part of a gender quota. It is about time. Thank you.
Read article about the seminar and see video of the presenters, including Ine Eriksen Søreide here.
Press release, 07.12.2014
Norway increases food assistance to Syria by USD 10 million
The UN World Food Programme has suspended food aid to 1.7 million refugees in Syria’s neighbouring countries, due to lack of funding. ‘There is an urgent need for food assistance. Support from the World Food Programme is the only source of food for many families. The Government intends to increase Norway’s contribution to WFP by USD 10 million,’ said Ministry of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.
More than 12 million people in Syria and an additional 3 million refugees from Syria are in acute need of assistance. The World Food Programme warns of devastating consequences and has asked Norway and other donors for immediate contributions so that food aid can be resumed as quickly as possible. In light of the dramatic situation, the Government intends to provide USD 10 million for the World Food Programme’s efforts in Syria and the neighbouring countries.
‘I am deeply concerned about the situation for Syrians, who are suffering terribly as a result of this meaningless war. Several million Syrians are in dire need of help, and the situation will worsen as winter approaches. The lack of emergency assistance will result not only in a deterioration of the humanitarian situation; it may also cause further insecurity and instability in the neighbouring countries,’ said Mr Brende.
On 1 December, the World Food Programme announced the suspension of the refugee food assistance programme in Syria’s neighbouring countries of Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and Jordan. The World Food Programme has warned that emergency response funds in Syria are also about to run out.
Defense and Security
Norway News 2014 12 02
The number of citizens leaving Norway to join the ranks of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, may be more than double that officially estimated, according to Norwegian police. The comments to The Anadolu Agency by the Norwegian Police Security Agency, or PST, on Tuesday followed media reports saying that up to 140 Norwegian citizens were believed to have left the country since the second half of 2012 to fight with the militant group in northern Iraq – more than double the number previously estimated in March.”We know for a fact that more than 60 people have left the country in order to join (ISIL), around 20 have returned and 12 have reportedly been killed,” the head of communications of the Norwegian security agency, Trond Hugubakken, told to media.
“The total number may very likely be larger, but we have no information to back up the current media claims,” said Hugubakken.
“There have been several speculative reports in the Norwegian media during the last couple of weeks, the latest one today, but the PST stands firmly by its threat assessment released in March,” said Hugubakken.
In March, the police security agency issued an annual threat assessment warning of a number of the country’s citizens leaving the country to join groups fighting in Syria.
A report from the Norwegian Counter-Terror Center during the summer also estimated the number to be around 50, saying it was quite a high level per-capita compared to other Western countries.
Norwegian newspaper Dagsavisen reported on Tuesday that “several insiders” with knowledge on the extremist group Profetens Ummah, based in Norway, estimated the latest figures to reach around 140.
“We have to expect that there are more people who have travelled to Syria than we know of,” Martin Bernsen, a senior advisor to the Norwegian Police Security Agency, told the newspaper.
“Some have travelled in order to serve in the (ISIL-proclaimed) caliphate. Others to visit, or search for, their children,” he said.
Stavanger Aftenblad 2014 12 07
Leif Magne Helgesen
Priest in the CoN, serving as “observer” in the West Bank, delivers diatribe against evil Israeli settlers and military.
This website, clearly anti-Israeli in content, appears to be a Sunni-Muslim apologist site; intended for a Norwegian audience.
In comments to an article on Benjamin Netanyahu in Verdens Gang on 2014 12 05, this gem surfaces:
One Kai Braathen posts this link:
According to his Facebook page, Mr. Braathen is a teacher.