This week, Shimon Peres visited Norway and was feted by King Harald V. In anticipation of that occasion, Norway’s ambassador to Israel, Svein Sevje, gave an interview to the Jerusalem Post highlighting the friendly relations and expanding business and cultural ties between his country and the Jewish state. Moreover, he stressed the Norwegian government’s support for Middle East peace based on two states for two peoples, and opposition to poisonous Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns. These deepening connections and rejection of delegitimization are welcome.
However, despite these strong expressions of support and friendship, the Norwegian government continues to provide tens of millions of kroner to organizations that actively promote BDS, campaign against the right of the Jewish people to self determination, and seek to undermine the Oslo Framework (the international framework originating in Norway, established to lead to the creation of a peaceful Palestinian state living side by side with Israel). These activities, financed with public money, directly oppose Norwegian policy, damage Norwegian-Israeli ties and damage the prospects for Middle East peace.
A number of Norwegian-funded groups have launched vicious campaigns libeling and harassing companies that do not share their extreme political views. For example, Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) receives more than 200 million NOK from the government, and has played a central role in getting companies excluded from the Norwegian Pension Fund based on tendentious and even false factual and legal claims.
In addition to BDS, the Norwegian government supports other forms of political warfare targeting Israel. One such grant involves massive funding provided to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), which in turn is funneled to local NGOs, in order to flood Israeli courts with hundreds of lawsuits, challenging Israeli sovereignty, and seeking to destroy the Oslo Accords.
The visit of President Peres to Oslo and the statements by Ambassador Sevje suggest that Norwegian-Israeli relations are about to enter a new phase of increased friendship and cooperation. Ending counterproductive funding to groups that seek to damage these relations would be a good beginning.