For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
Once staunch supporters of Israel, Norwegians have shifted to a pro-Palestinian stance. What changed?
It is late January, and red-eyed travelers on an overnight train to Oslo can see little of Norway’s frozen capital. Darkness holds the city in its grip, and by 8 a.m. there still is no sign of the sun.
Despite its weather, Norway stands at the top of the yearly U.N. Human Development Index, thanks to massive oil and gas reserves that were discovered in the North Sea in 1969 and changed the face of Norwegian society. Over the last 40 years, the country went from being a poor, frozen outpost of Northern Europe to a social democratic paradise whose capital gave its name to the 1993 peace accords between Israel and the Palestinians. Yet over the same period, Norway also went from being a warm ally of Israel to a hotbed of pro-Palestinian sentiment and an unfriendly place for Israelis to visit and do business. The marked shift in Norwegian feeling toward Israel is typical of a larger shift throughout Scandinavia toward demonizing the Jewish state, despite the near-total absence of sizable communities of Jews or Muslims there who might seek to shape domestic opinion or foreign policy. The question of why Norwegians have become so invested in a complex conflict between two very un-Scandinavian peoples on the other side of the globe offers useful insight into the social and political dynamics that have turned once-friendly Europeans against Israel.
“The relations between Norway and Israel are relations between friends, but they lack real content,” said an Israeli diplomat I talked to in Oslo. “The bilateral plate is empty.” In 2003, according to the Israeli trade ministry, overall Israeli exports to the European Union stood at $10.4 billion; exports to Norway were a mere $69 million and have remained at more or less the same level since.
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"