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Norway leads the way and boycotts the apartheid state of Israel. It’s time for Europe to follow!

September 6th, 2009

Salim Nazzal

In the wake of the crisis after a Swedish newspaper revealed the heinous, and criminal activity, of Israel which has been harvesting organs and body parts from murdered Palestinians and selling them on to the USA it seems that Israel is facing another crisis, this time with Norway. The Norwegian Government Pension Fund, which has $400 billion in assets under management, has sold its $5.4 million holding in Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems Ltd.

The Israeli company Elbit systems Ltd provide a monitoring system which is the key contribution to the construction of the racist wall. The Norwegian finance minister Kristin Halvorsen from the social democrat party the alliance of the labor party in the current government supported earlier wider boycott against the state of Israel due to its apartheid policy. Halvorsen made it clear that Norway will not fund companies, which contribute in violations of international humanitarian law.

It must be mentioned here that the Norwegian Petroleum Fund's Council on Ethics has concluded that an investment in the Israeli company leads to "unacceptable risk of contributing to the particularly serious violations of fundamental ethical norms". According to the Norwegian paper Dagbladet the Council on Ethics for the Norwegian Petroleum Fund came with his recommendation in May, and the fund has already sold out of the company.

The Hague Tribunal court in The Hague in 2004 recommended the states that are parties in the Geneva Convention to stand against the wall construction. Norwegian authorities have the same vision and will provide support for this, says the finance minister.

In doing so the Norwegian Petroleum Fund's Council on Ethics is implementing the recommendation of the International Court in The Hague from 2004 which clearly stated that the construction of security wall along the chosen route is a violation of international law. The Hague court found out that than 90 percent of the wall goes over occupied territory in the West Bank.

The question of boycotting the apartheid state of Israel has been one of the questions raised in various academic and political circles in Europe because Israel has a long history in disrespecting the international law. This question is often linked with the international boycott campaign of the apartheid South Africa which many think it has greatly contributed in the fall of that regime. Therefore many think that imposing sanctions on the state of Israel would weaken the far right and the religious fascism which is in power in Israel.

Sweden’s exposure of what can only be described as the Israeli body-organ harvest industry has crossed all lines of human decency toward occupied Palestinians. Although these revelations has left all decent minded people reeling with disgust there has been very little international reaction to roundly condemn Israel and call for sanctions against them.

Norway is to be applauded for leading the way in taking positive steps to boycott Israel – the unanswered question remains. Will the rest of the European community follow suit? My view is that we forfeit our own humanity if we allow this kind of heinous practice to go unchecked. The EU and the European Human Rights organizations must put this issue on its list of priorities.

Likewise, the Palestinian authority needs to stop all political contacts with the apartheid regime in Israel which has been investing these contacts for its own benefit. In the shadow of farcical, and often theatrical, negotiations between the Israel and the Palestinian authority Israel has constructed the racist wall which has ripped through the landscape destroying rural life, uprooting trees and families and causing immeasurable damage to the ecological system. This has been deliberate vandalism – its aim is to drive people from their land and destroy Palestinian culture.

Israel’s anti occupation activists have themselves concluded that nothing has worked to compel, or even encourage, Israel to stop the occupation.

Neve Gordon, an Israeli intellectual concluded that: ‘It is therefore clear to me that the only way to counter the apartheid trend in Israel is through massive international pressure. The words and condemnations from the Obama administration and the European Union have yielded no results, not even a settlement freeze, let alone a decision to withdraw from the occupied territories.’

It is time that the Europe takes a firm stand. Words need to be wed with deeds because words alone are having no impact. The injustice toward Palestinians not only continues, but as evidenced by the organ harvest scandal, it has plummeted to greater depths of depravity.

Describing Israel as an apartheid state and doing nothing to stop it makes the world an accessory to the crime. Passivity in the face of such atrocities as the organ harvest from murdered Palestinians emboldens the Zionists – who are encouraged to keep moving the goal posts of evil doing.

The Norwegian boycott of Israel has made a bold statement that it will not condone its continued occupation of Palestine and violation of human rights. Other foreign governments, companies, academics, art and entertainment communities as well as faith-based organizations, unions and citizens need to make the same ethical stand against Israel as it did against the former apartheid government of South Africa. Boycotts worked then and they would work now.

Europe must disregard accusations of being called anti-Semitic. This is empty rhetoric and an attempt by the Zionist regime to intimidate and discourage opposition to the criminal behavior of Israel.

A strong, united European stand against the crimes of Israel with an international boycott would send a clear message that the silence of its critics is over. To do nothing would not only encourage Israel to commit more crimes it will intensify the culture of violence and revenge which ripped Europe apart in the first half of the last century. While the Jewish communities around the world tell us ‘never again’ we watch the same atrocities being committed by Israeli’s against Palestinians that the Nazi’s stood accused of at Nuremburg.

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Dr. Salim Nazzal is a Palestinian-Norwegian historian in the Middle East, who has written extensively on social and political issues in the region. E Mail: salim_nazzal@ymail.com

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