Vårt Land editorial: Boycott not helpful; Norwegian Consumers: we love to buy Israeli goods

Following the deeply immoral demand to boycott or tighten sanctions against Israel by Church of Norway clerics, Vårt Land runs an editorial condemning the call for boycotts against Israel, claiming it will be counter productive. Not that Vårt Land is entirely blameless in the increasing anti-Israel sentiment among solace “progressive” Christians… They have often enough stoked the ugly fires, either by completely lopsided reports about the painful Israeli-Palestinian conflict or, by allowing unbridled anti-Israel sentiments, and often also pure anti-Semitism in their debate and comments sections. With anti-Semitic levels in Norway at shocking levels, they could well spend some time reflecting on their own gratuitous contributions t this situation.

Nevertheless, they take a clear stance against a boycott of Israel, even if they are mistaken on the topic of lesser rights for Palestinians in Israel. First of all, Arab Israelis are citizens of Israel and have full civic rights, and a few concessions not afforded to Israeli Jews; They are exempt not only from military service, but also from national service, which would have seen Arab Israelis contributing to a greater extent in voluntary organisations helping the elderly, the sick, the disabled, or even in their own villages, where often there are little or no voluntary services on offer. As for Palestinians living in the West Bank, they all hold Jordanian citizenships and/or live in PA autonomous areas where Israeli Law does not apply. Interestingly, many of the West Bank based industries offer excellent salaries and work conditions to Palestinians, over NIS 8000 per month plus social benefits and well regulated work conditions for ordinary factory workers, whereas the average salary in the PA controlled areas barely come up to NIS 2000 per month, plus widespread corruption and misuse of aid funds that add to their hardship. Bizarrely, Norwegian BDS proponents want to deny Palestinians a decent wage and an opportunity to social improvement, an extreme case of cutting of the nose to spite ones face. It would be a good idea if  Erling Rimehaug would educate himself on this topic before making incorrect claims about a very difficult situation.

lifted from Vårt Land, google translate

It takes absolutely new impetus to give the Palestinians another existence. But the boycott of Israel is a bad idea.

Erling Rimehaug

The priest Leif Helgesen sees up close how Palestinians are evicted from their homes. The legal basis is perhaps in order. But this is an expression of the overall situation of the Palestinians – they are without rights in their own country. There are good reasons to believe that something must be done – and Helgesen is thus going in for a boycott of Israel.

To boycott a country is to take from it legitimacy. Israel is a country that has always lived with an existential threat. Boycott will be perceived as a new edition of this threat. It will not make most Israelis more intent on peace solutions, but on the contrary make them convinced that they have to stand up against a threatening world.


There are also several regimes there is much more reason to boycott, without us doing it. It will be somewhat hypocritical to single out Israel, while we leavemore powerful and influential countries alone.

Those who argue for a boycott, gladly shows to the apartheid regime in South Africa. But the reason why a boycott worked in that case, was that the regime built on a totally unacceptable ideology and thus lost legitimacy.

Some believe Zionism is a form of apartheid ideology that must be delegitimized the same way. But Zionism is not based on a ranking of people by ethnicity, race or creed. Although it is often claimed, Zionism is not built on the notion of Jews as a chosen people. Zionism is one of several national ideologies, the point is that Jews like all other people need a nation they can be safe in. That does not mean it needs to be a state only for Jews.

Democratic threat

In today’s Israel Palestinians because ar discriminated against they are Palestinians. But it is a practice that is not in keeping with Israel’s ideological basis. It is Israel’s democratic foundation which is an important reason for why they can not live with that the Palestinians do not have democratic rights. Many Israelis realize that it undermines Israel as a democratic state.

For Israel to dare to bet on giving Palestinians their democratic rights, it needed the outside world gives them confidence that we will continue to line up for their existence. Boycott leads to the contrary, the isolation and insecurity. Therefore, it is an instrument that achieves the opposite of the purpose.


Meanwhile, Norwegians are voting with their wallets, in spite of fevered demands for a boycott of Israel, Norwegians prefer to buy Israeli goods more than ever before. That must sure be a painful thumb in the eye for the boycotters.

lifted from Vårt Land, google translate

Israel-commerce grows
Norwegians do not listen to boycott calls. Imports from Israel has almost doubled in 15 years.

Bjørgulv K. Bjåen

– To boycott Israeli goods is a demanding exercise. You must, for example make do without mobile phone and PC, says Andreas Brovig.

In a one year period, he has been running the webpage israelsk.no. Here he shows all the Israeli goods Norwegian consumers can buy – and must buy if they want access to essential tools in everyday life, like for example mobile phones.

– Israeli technology companies are currently far ahead and deliver so many important product, that a boycott would be extremely difficult, says Brovig, who is also group leader of the Christian Democratic Party in Lillesand City Council.

Asks for boycott

In yesterday’s Vårt Landparish priest at Svalbard, Leif Magne Helgesen, called for a full boycott of Israel:

– The time is right to use stronger means by against Israel. Just as the world’s community pressured South Africa to scrapping of apartheid policies, must Israelbli pressured to end the occupation of the West Bank and give Palestinians a state of their own.

Helgesen also wants his employer, the Church of Norway, to support him.

– The Church’s policy is not to buy Israeli goods produced in the West Bank. Now, the  time is ripe to step up boycott since Israel shows little willingness to end the occupation of the West Bank said Leif Magne Helgesen and asked Norwegians to stop buying Israeli goods.

Pastor at Svalbard was with a group of international observers in Hebron on the West Bank at the beginning of the year and now in summer an observer in the small Palestinian village of Susiya south of Hebron.

Strong growth

In the last few years years there there were several calls to boycott Israeli goods, but numbers from Statistics Norway (SSB) show that the calls fell on deaf ears:

• In 2000, Norway bought goods from Israel for nearly 475 million.

• In 2014 we imported goods for 875 million.

Had to give up

A few months after the Social Left leader r Kristin Halvorsen became finance minister in the its Red Green government in 2005, she encouraged a  boycott of Israeli goods. Israel reacted strongly to that a Norwegian government minister asked for a boycott – and already the day after   Halvorsen had to back track on her call for boycott.

One year into before, the socialists reacted with fury when they were served oranges from Israel at their annual congress in Kristiansand. One of the delegates discovered a Jaffa brand on the oranges and hotel staff had to carry out the fruit and buy new oranges for the socialists, who boycott Israeli goods.

Stronger support

The statistics for 2013 and 2014 shows that, even if imports from Israel to Norway grown,some products are declining; fruit and vegetables. This reduction, which is 8 million, is being offset by strong growth in imports by other types of products, in particular technology.

– For those who call for boycott it may be easy to stop buying Israeli fruit and vegetables, such as Jaffa orange, says Andreas Brovig.

– Has your work with israelsk.no influenced trade with Israeli goods?

– I would be reluctant to claim something like that. But in general I would say that for us who are Israel-friends, it is easier to gain support for calls  to buy Israeli goods than it is for those who call for a boycott, Brovig says.


On one-area Norway has stopped buying Israeli products. Defence does not military equipment from Israel anymore – and Norwegian defense contractors are banned from selling its product to Israel directly.

There is a double twist to this story: Since the goods singled out for boycott are fruit and vegetables, the boycotters are denying Palestinian workers a job and a half decent salary. I am sure the Palestinians who now must struggle even more to put food on the table, are exceedingly grateful for this added hardship delivered so lovingly by their “friends”.

6 comments for “Vårt Land editorial: Boycott not helpful; Norwegian Consumers: we love to buy Israeli goods

  1. motti
    July 28, 2015 at 6:53 am

    The products shown are miniscule as to the actual “exports” found in technological products
    So Norway does not sell nor purchase military products with Israel. Which Arab Muslim countries does it trade with militarily?.

    The one area I find really depressing and worrying is the fact that politically, Israel has lost the old methods of attack is the finest form of attack. we know that the bastard Pals and their friends continue to ferociously attack Israel on every conceivable front. so why dos Israel not demand the arrest of top Hamas officials to stand trial in den Hague for war crimes against civilians when they launched their mortar, rocket and missile attacks against civilian targets in Israel, including the holy city of Jerusalem?????

  2. Herbie
    July 28, 2015 at 11:52 am

    Apropos of nothing:

    “Chutzpah” is a Yiddish word meaning gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, sheer guts plus arrogance; it’s Yiddish and no other word, and no other language, can do it justice.

    A little old lady sold pretzels on a street corner for a dollar each. Every day, a young man would leave his office building at lunchtime and, as he passed the pretzel stand, he would leave her $1.00 – but never take a pretzel .

    This offering went on for more than 3 years. The two of them never spoke. One day, as the young man passed the old lady’s stand and left his dollar as usual, the pretzel lady spoke to him for the first time in over 3 years.

    Without blinking an eye, she said, “They’re $1.25 now.”

  3. motti
    July 29, 2015 at 2:06 am

    Nice one Herbie. I remember a beggar in Tel Aviv back in the early 1970’s. He was always moaning, screaming and crying his eyes out on a Friday before Shabbat started
    He died and the police went to flat and found sacks of Shekels (or was it Lire?) all over the place including sacs suspended by a hook from the ceiling. He was a very “comfortable” man upon his expiry.

  4. Herbie
    August 2, 2015 at 4:45 am

    funny or sad – depending on your views :-)

  5. motti
    August 11, 2015 at 2:36 am

    Yes Herbie as I pointed out on an article article above that the honoured murderers are also hailed as heroes for murdering any Jew regardless of age.

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