HOSPITALS IN THE CALIPHATE
It is of course both proper and important to give humanitarian aid to refugees and victims of war in Syria; however, this turns totally mistaken if the Islamic State (IS) takes over control of Norwegian aid and funding. We must have safeguards towars necessary and lifesaving aid going to Syrian civilians; and aid not in any manner going to the IS terrorist movement.
On Monday; NRK reported of IS transporting their wounded warriors to a hospital Norway takes part in funding. The Tell Abiad hospital is sited in an area conquered by the IS. The question remains whether IS has control over the hospital’s medical priorities. Is the IS using this as an advanced field hospital to its warriors or is it still a hospital open to civilians? The MFA has funded the Norwegian humanitarian aid NGO Norwac’s program in Syria fully; issuing funding for salaries, medical equipment and refurbishing of the Tell Abiad hospital. Norwac claims that even if the IS is in total m8litary control of the territory; they have not taken over the management of the hospital. Even though the hospital gives treatment to wounded IS warriors; it is also used by civilians. They see no reason to end Norwegian support.
Other sources can tell NRK a different version; including the man who took the initiative to support this local hospital. Norwegian-Syrian medical doctor Mohammad Alhaj Saleh says IS is in control over anything taking part at the hospital; using it to their advantage. Saleh claims the surgical theaters mainly serve wounded IS warriors. He is of the opinion Norwegian funding should cease. Saleh holds that much was done; by the aid of Norwac and the Norwegian MFA, however, this was before the IS took control.
We have seen how the IS operate. They kidnap and kill foreigners, whether they are journalists or aid workers, brutally suppressing anyone with opposing views. For security reasons, any control of funding sent into this horror regime is impossible.
Norway is one of the major donors of humanitarian aid to Syria and its neighboring countries; contributing with 1 Billion NOK this year. There is an acute need of aid. We are facing the largest refugee crisis since WW2; it is obvious we must help. But we cannot give aid likely to be misspent by the terrorists. IS has done nothing but
Editorials 2014 11 29
Aftenposten is on the EU; expressing some bitterness over the fact the people voted against membership in 1994, stating this has decreased Norwegian influence over Europe, while national sovereignty is “illusory”.
Verdens Gang is on a perceived crisis within Norwegian psychiatry-seeing numbers of beds in institutions dropping to unacceptable low levels; issuing warning to politicians over this.
Dagbladet is on the drop of prices in the crude oil market; discussing implication for the future economy of Norway over this. They commend some union leaders over wise recommendations; saying wages should remain at a “moderate” level until further.
Editorials 2014 12 01
Dagbladet, in full:
NO MORE A DEMOCRACY
On Wednesday, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, shall start debating the so far most controversial proposal by PM Benjamin Netanyahu: He intends to make Israel a Jewish state. Thereby, he lets religion take place ahead of democratic principles; and if the proposal passes, Israel cannot refer to itself as a democracy anymore.
Israel was established in order for the Jews to have a homeland in 1948; but even after 750 000 Palestinians fled; 160 000 Palestinians lived in the new state. They have all of this time been second class citizens. Their villages have not received their share of the development of wealth; and as a Palestinian does not receive security clearance and cannot serve in the military, they are blacklisted for several jobs. But this discrimination has been real, not formal.
If Netanyahu gets his will; many will refer to Israel as an Apartheid state. Twenty per cent of this country’s inhabitants are Palestinians; and they will be subjected to a purely Jewish state system. There seems to be two reasons over the PM’s initiative. One is to strengthen his stock ahead of the next elections; secondly to make as many Palestinians as possible move away. Israeli members of government have already proposed to get rid of Palestinian villages in Israel through some sort of swap with the Palestinians; which of course has not materialized. However, the Israeli authorities wish to remove permits to reside from Palestinians they suspect of supporting terrorism. This took part in last week as the wife of one of the two Palestinians attacking a synagogue in West Jerusalem was expelled to the West Bank. A short time ago, the home secretary Gilad Erdan revoked the residence permit of a Palestinian released after serving ten years for terrorism. Erdan wants to escalate these activities to include all of Israel.
Netanyahu’s wish for a Jewish state makes some compare Israel to Iran. This should be a concern for Israelis. Meanwhile, the UN; EU; USA, but also Norway, must put all possible pressure on Israel, in order for the PM’s proposal to be withdrawn. Such legislation may have unknown significances; and may contribute to lighting up under the powder barrel of the Middle East.
Embassy of Israel in Oslo
Allgemeine 2014 11 13
I first encountered the name of George Deek at the end of September, when a reader sent me a link to an entry on a Norwegian blog headlined “The best speech an Israeli diplomat ever held.” Whether the speech deserved that ultimate praise is an open question, but it was certainly one of the more powerful personal accounts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that I’ve ever read. The fact that its author was a 30 year old Christian Arab citizen of Israel, a native of Jaffa, and the current number two at the Israeli Embassy in Oslo, with an enviable command of Arabic, Hebrew and English, only made the person of George Deek more intriguing.
This week, I conducted a long interview with Deek over the phone. He spoke rapidly and eloquently for over an hour, weaving his personal story into the wider fabric of the Middle East’s myriad ethnic, religious and political conflicts. Deek made the case that his own, sometimes frustrating, quest to succeed in a Jewish state offers a scintilla of hope to the other countries of the Middle East, where – as we are seeing once again in Iraq and Syria – sectarian and communal divides are much more stark and brutal. That he did so with a charm that almost compels you to agree with him is by the bye; the intellectual merits of his arguments warrant serious consideration, and perhaps indicate that Deek has a future ahead of him as a liberal Arab writer or politician.
Deek and I began our conversation with the subject of 1948, and what Palestinians call the “Nakba” – the Arabic word for “catastrophe” that is used to describe the creation of the State of Israel. In his September speech, Deek had remarked that “you don’t need to be an anti-Israeli to acknowledge the humanitarian disaster of the Palestinians in 1948, namely the Nakba;” what, I asked, did he mean by that?
“The Palestinians suffered a humanitarian disaster during the Nakba,” Deek said. “People were driven out of their homes because of intimidation, or because of the warnings of other leaders. It can’t be described as anything other than a terrible tragedy.”
There can be no debate, Deek stressed, over whether this tragedy befell the Arabs of Palestine. “Otherwise my family would not have been scattered all over the globe,” he said, “from Canada in the west, to Australia and the Gulf countries.” But, he continued, “the question is not what happened, by why it happened.”
Just as the Palestinians are themselves scattered, Deek posits, so is the responsibility for their plight. Fundamentally, he said, the events of 1948 were driven by the same Arab refusal to recognize the Jewish state that plagues the region today. Referring to the recent poll on anti-Semitism conducted by the Anti-Defamation League, Deek reflected with sadness on the fact that “80 to 90 percent on average in the Arab countries have anti-Semitic attitudes – they think the Jews control the media, and politics, and so on.” With that in mind, he wondered what “things might have been like if the Palestinians would have said to the Jews, ‘Welcome back. This is your home, but it’s also our home, so let’s find a way that we can live here together.’” As Deek acknowledges, that was not a message that Arab leaders, centrally the pro-Nazi Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, were particularly keen to communicate. Throughout the Arab world, war was declared on both the Jewish State and the idea of the Jewish State.
Back in Jaffa, the Deek household was not enamored of either of these goals; neither his mother nor his father’s families were especially political, Deek said. But like many other Palestinians, the outbreak of war meant displacement, and the Deek family, bullied into leaving by Arab emissaries who insisted that they would return once military victory had been secured over the Zionist forces, found itself in a refugee camp in Lebanon.
“For my family, the significant part of the story was what happened after the war,” Deek said. He explained that his grandfather, also named George, had worked for Rotenberg electricity company in Jaffa, where he had made many Jewish friends. Stranded in Lebanon, where his new wife Vera gave birth to a son, George Sr. was determined to return to his home in Jaffa. He did just that, thanks to “an act of grace” from his friends in the electricity company, who also got him his old job back.
“To go back, not to do what their brothers and sisters did, but to take a chance, to live in Jaffa among those whom they were told were their enemies, and make them friends, to not be defined as victims, that was the decision my grandparents made,” said Deek.
If Deek’s grandparents were one source of inspiration for his rejection of an identity defined by victimhood, the other was his beloved music teacher, a Holocaust survivor named Avraham Nov. “He was the ultimate victim. His whole family was murdered by the Nazis,” Deek said. “But he refused to be defined as a victim, because he knew that if he did that, he would be stuck in the past.”
“The narrative of victimhood is a narrative that paralyzes us and corrupts us morally,” Deek continued. “When a group defines itself as a victim, it no longer takes responsibility for what it does, even terrible crimes.” There is, Deek said, no incentive for any nation defined by victimhood, as the Palestinians are, “to recover. When you see yourself as a victim and you are treated like a victim, you become a prisoner of your own past.”
I put it to Deek that a detractor would counter that his grandfather, in returning to Jaffa, had an option that was denied to 750,000-odd other Palestinians, and that therefore casting off victimhood is something of a luxury.
“It’s true, I don’t think that other refugees had the same opportunity, even if they had wanted to go back,” he replied. “But that’s not the point. The point is that my grandfather went to a place where he could build a future, and this is the tragedy of the Arab world. The Arab world has treated the Palestinian refugees who stayed there shamefully. In Lebanon, Syria, the Gulf countries, they are denied citizenship, they do not have the basic human rights that others have, they are barred from leading professions, and this cruel discrimination prevents them from moving forward. So it’s not a question of where you are living. It’s question of us together, Arabs, Jews, the international community, putting pressure on those countries that are confining the Palestinians to that vicious reality.”
Deek voiced harsh criticism of UNWRA, the UN refugee agency tasked with serving Palestinian refugees (the overwhelming majority of them now descendants of the original 1948 generation,) for exactly the same reasons. “UNRWA is preventing the refugees from moving on,” he said.
Throughout our conversation, Deek emphasized his conviction that to be a member of a minority is “a blessing,” in that it creates an additional impetus to succeed in the wider society, as well as providing that society with a test of its own tolerance. On these counts, Deek said, the Arab world had failed.
“The acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state in the Middle East is inherently connected to our ability to accept Christians or Yezidis or Baha’i or anyone who is different,” Deek argued. Without its Christians, he observed, the Arab world would more precisely be described as the Muslim world. “We are the ones who make it Arab, by making it about something more than just Muslims. An Arab world that is not able to accept a Jewish state, an Arab world that cannot accept Christians within it, is a world without humanity.”
What, though, of the Arab citizens of Israel? If “assimilation” into Jewish society is impossible, Deek answered, and if “isolation” and separatism are undesirable, there is a third way nevertheless. For there is no inherent contradiction between preserving one’s Arab identity and fully participating in the life of the nation, Deek said, although he granted that effects of such an endeavor on individual psyches would certainly be unsettling.
Indeed, some of Deek’s experiences during his own journey through Israeli society starkly demonstrate the pettiness and prejudice from which minorities even in democratic societies are not immune. When he began job hunting after graduating with a law degree around a decade ago, he noticed that his Jewish friends, including those who’d achieved lower grades, were getting many more job interviews all the same. So Deek sent out his resume once again, this time with a Jewish name. Around 50 per cent of those firms that ignored him when he applied as an Arab, he told me, contacted him when he applied as a Jew.
“I faced discrimination as an Arab in Israel in the same way as an Algerian in France, or a Pakistani in Britain,” Deek said, placing the issue of prejudice in Israel in its appropriate context. Yet he didn’t choose the route of outing the law firms that wouldn’t consider an Arab applicant through some fiery exposure in the media. Instead, he said, he has found himself on a far more challenging path, which involves battling the prejudices of the majority on the one hand while declining the temptations of eternal victimhood on the other.
As we were about to end our conversation, Deek was anxious to tell me about the apartment building in Jaffa where he grew up, where the other residents were a Muslim family, a Christian family, an orthodox Jewish couple, and a Catholic priest. This, he said, was a metaphor for the kind of open society that Israel promises. “Israel is the only place in the Middle East where an Arab can say, ‘I live as an Arab in my homeland and in a liberal democracy with full rights,’” said Deek.
Expressing sentiments like these will inevitably put Deek in the vulnerable position of being demonized as a “collaborator” or dismissed as incoherent idealist. I somehow doubt, though, that Deek will lose his energy or his vision because of a few outside critics.
I suspect, in fact, that his response would be similar to the answer that the Zionist leader Vladimir Jabotinsky offered his adversaries: “Defame if you must! The dream is greater than its slanderers. It need not fear their calumny.”
Aftenposten 2014 12 02 p 9
Note: the paper version of Aftenposten states Mr. Torgersbråten is a former Ministerial Councilor to Palestine, the internet version of the article states he is still in this office. Upon contacting the Norwegian MFA; the Press Office state he was no more connected to the Norwegian MFA. Nevertheless, the way this article is presented it has a “color of authority” over itself; and could easily be interpreted to be an official Norwegian stance.
An MFA joke states a diplomat is a honest human being sent overseas to lie on his country’s behalf; Israeli Ambassador to Norway, Raphael Schutz, does his best. He says the legal proposal over a Jewish national state making non-Jewish inhabitants in Israel second-grade citizens, as claimed by Aftenposten, is in error. However, Aftenposten’s opinions are none other than those Ha’aretz has in its editorials. They write this law will strip Arab, the language of every fifth inhabitant, of its status as a national language. The law will strip minorities of the right to settle wherever they want; and the concept “Jewish” is being given precedence to “democratic”.
This proposal is controversial internally in Israel; receiving no support by the more liberal within the cabinet, like the Minister of Justice, Tzipi Livni, or the Minister of Finance, Yair Lapid. The US State Department criticizes the proposal, as does the New York Times. Both Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and the Ultraorthodox Jews are against the law.
There are therefore quite many who according to Ambassador Schutz are “lacking in historical understanding” and are “indoctrinated by anti-Israeli propaganda”. Already today, a drab picture can be drawn of the conditions Israeli Arabs are living under. It is of little help, then, that Ambassador Schutz claims there are “scores of Arab judges, doctors, lawyers, etc.” Aftenposten is issuing a warning against new legislation; making an already difficult situation deteriorate even more. Of course, it is a possible thought that the Ambassador of Israel is aware of this; but chooses to neglect this. The Ambassador is facing a challenge in his education.
Dagsavisen 2014 12 01
Roger Hercz explains some realities of life in the Middle East; including the stance of PM Netanyahu (with whom Roger Hercz disagrees, seeing his proposals on the creation of a “Jewish” state as undemocratic), quoting Karl Marx, Francis Fukuyama and several others. While expressing some fear over the democratic future of Israel; he points to similar restrictions to personal freedom being made in Europe, ending up on amore optimist note, seeing that the numbers of democracies in the world have increased since 1990, ending up with quoting Israeli comedian Lior Schlein:
“Don’t ask what the state has done towards you. Ask what you can do against the state”.
BØRGE BRENDE REFUTE BOYCOTT
Dagsavisen 2014 11 29 p 9
While maintaining views on “illegality” of settlements; Børge Brende oppose boycott proposals of Israel, responding to Anniken Huitfeldt of the Labor party, who has raised questions over this. However, he keeps the door open to possible boycott of products made in settlements.
Dagsavisen 2014 11 26, letter to the editor (Alle meninger)
Berit R. Ruud
Nothing has provoked me as much, made me so pissed as the op-ed by Israel’s ambassador in Aftenposten on 2014 11 25, titled the “The defect memory of Aftenposten”. There is the usual talk about anti-Semitism and the suffering of the Jews. This has been well documented and referred to through more than 70 years. What I react to is mentioned beneath this.
Proposals have now been made over making Israel a purely Jewish state; and Aftenposten holds this to be a mistake which will discriminate one and half million non-Jews; making them second grade citizens.
The Ambassador then is up in arms over a total lacking understanding in the op-ed. He talks of there always having existed equality towards non-Jews and full democracy in the state!
I allowed myself to submit this response to Israel’s ambassador in Aftenposten; which was refused, due to a lack of space! Therefore I submit this in the internet version titled: “The People’s good memory”.
“How was the national state of Israel created, Mr. Ambassador? Through wars, massacres and the expulsion of millions of Palestinians! Through theft of their land, repeated abuse, occupation, blockade, provocations, harassment-a suppression in body and soul of a whole people!
Don’t you realize your country’s and your people’s behavior towards the Palestinians is viewed with loathing by many countries? It is not correct as stated by Aftenposten on yesterday that Palestinians will be second grade citizens .They have been for many years. Israel has become an Apartheid state with a master race and the others- having no democratic rights! There is no equality! One does not talk of singular judges, doctors , politicians, but of the Palestinian people as a whole!
Those are about to perish due to Israel’s occupation, immurement and blockade!
This is shameful, Mr. Ambassador!
How did the Palestinians enter this situation, and why did the cruel murders in the synagogue take place?
On the occupied Gaza strip there is by now enormous want due to all of the wars; and they have great problems with the reconstruction due to the blockade. Norway contribute with 160 Million to reconstruction, yet doctor Mads Gilbert is refuses entry, for “security reasons “!
The West Bank is under strict military command; with daily abuses, and the two peoples are separated with a seven meter high concrete wall. This divides neighbors and good agricultural lands-in spite of protests and international decisions. This is to the despair of the Palestinians, having had their houses torn down and being expulsed from their property.
In the annexed East Jerusalem the third intifada is smoldering.. A rebellion in response to Israeli provocations with killings on both sides. But when a Palestinian kills a Jew, he is immediately executed by the police; while the Jew goes free without a trial! Where houses are demolished at the Palestinian “terrorists”; no reprisals are handed out when Israelis commit terrorism towards non-Jews!
The Temple mount with the Al Aqsa mosque is one of the points of contention. The Palestinian’s holy site of prayer, “their soul”, where Jews may also come, but not pray. The Palestinian’s have for some time been closed out of the mosque; creating large scale clashes, President Abbas has referred to this as a declaration of war.
A radical right wing orthodox segment in Israel has an ongoing campaign to give the Jews the right to pray there. In the Knesset a minister asked for permission to build a third Jewish temple there- and thereby demolish the shrine of the Palestinians! If this happens, it will lead to religious conflict between Muslims and Jews worldwide!
An Israeli human right NGO has documented abuse against the Palestinians in East Jerusalem. Even though they pay taxes, investments in school, health and public amenities are minimal in their part of the city. Poverty and unemployment are at extreme levels there.
According to relatives, desperation and anger made by the Israelis made two Palestinians commit the cruel murders in the synagogue. According to Ha’aretz the murders were also in revenge over an infamous massacre in the Deir Yassin village in 1948. Here, 120 Palestinian were killed, their village leveled with the earth and the population expelled. THIS SYNAGOGUE was later built upon Deir Yassin’s land. The event is one of the strongest symbols of the injustice towards the Palestinian people; according to themselves. This led to the expulsion on one millions Palestinians.
Israeli revenge has commenced: 10 Palestinians killed, the houses of the perpetrators demolished, they are banned against reconstruction them, relatives are arrested, a Palestinian school has been attacked and harassment is increasing. Throwing stones leads to 20 years of imprisonment!
Six million Palestinians are today refugees; banished to camps. Meanwhile, ever more European Jews arrive in the “promised land”. They receive all rights is Israel- while Palestinians receive little or none.
The Ambassador write about equality, the people is systemically suppressed everywhere!
The 3 Billions the US is stuffing Israel with annually could perhaps be spent better than on weaponry? Get democratic right in place for the Palestinians in Israel. Today, the Americans veto all proposals over ending blockade and occupation. Israel has USA’s support, the force of weapons and the means- and can therefore do whatever they want. This state refers to itself as “the only democracy” in the Middle East”!
Watching and hearing of all the abuse by the neo-Zionists, makes it impossible to understand, and also shameful, (to understand) why the world community is not reacting! The governments of the West must immediately demand equal right for all non-Jews, and if not, introduce sanctions and boycotts of merchandise. The US policy towards Israel must change. This will also dampen other conflicts in the region.
For as long as the Palestine conflict remains unsolved, it will lie like a flaming wound between the West and the Muslims. This is likely to lead to more terrorist organizations like the IS!
The political leaders of the West know all this-why does not anyone do something?
Berit R. Ruud.
ARAB LEAGUE WANTS DEADLINE ON PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD
Dagen 2014 12 01
Arab league demands UN set a deadline for plans over a Palestinian state.
Aftenposten 2014 12 02
Sofie Gran Aspunvik
A balanced and objective article on countries recognizing Palestine; and those who don’t. Ambassador Schutz is quoted, as are several Norwegian politicians.
“The Israeli Ambassador to Norway, Raphael Schutz, holds the tendency in Europe to be negative.
-Not because of the idea of a Palestinian state by itself, most are supporting this, but this state should be the result of a negotiated peace accord, Schutz tells Aftenposten. He holds those who chose to recognize Palestine only cares about one side of the negotiating table.
-This is also negative to the Palestinians, giving them false hopes over the accept of an independent state without a peace accord. This does in no way increase the chances of peace, Schutz says”.
(Foreign Minister Børge Brende)
“Discussions in Europe shows there is a need over getting the parties back to the negotiating table quickly, FM Børge Brende (Conservatives) says.
-I note most countries await recognitions. Norway holds it is still the most appropriateto recognize the state of Palestine when a negotiated solution is in existence; Brende says to Aftenposten.
He points out Norway will be among the first to recognize Palestine if a two state solution according to International Law is negotiated. The goal is for the parties to find a solution based on pre-1967 borders, mutually recognizing each other’s”.
(Anniken Huitfeldt, Labor)
“Norway has a tradition of following a conservative approach to recognizing new states. I hold that agreement over a peace solution does not have to be a condition for recognition; but I think it would be advantageous for a possible Norwegian recognition if it takes part simultaneously with processes in other European countries”.
(Kristian Norheim, Progressives)
“Progressive Kristian Norheim holds it to be “unwise and disconnected to reality” to make noncommittal decisions over recognizing Palestine, like UK, Ireland and Spain.
This makes symbolic politics more important than realpolitik; having an adverse effect, Norheim says”.
Middle East issues.
Dagbladet 2014 11 28 p 6, 7
This article is probably not meant to be a travesty, though it to an outsider have a slightly Monty Pythonesque feeling about it, genuinely presenting Gule as an authority on preventing extremism.
For more on Gule, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lars_Gule
Of, course, Gule defends the Palestinians right to fight Israel in this article, not seeing this as in any way extreme.
Dagbladet presents this Signe Wilkinson cartoon on 2014 12 02, on page 39.
Copyright: Verdens Gang/Roar Hagen.