The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) is airing a program which is making the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (UD) suggest that Israel should no longer be permitted to test their German manufactured submarines on a leased naval base in the Norwegian town of Kristiansand.
Press secretary of the UD, Bjørn Jansen, says the rules for weapons export do not allow such testing. He did not have to say this unless he wanted to send out a signal.
It has become quite clear: Norway is currently doing a creeping boycott of Israel.
Front-runner is the socialist party (SV), part of the coalition government, which is calling for a selective boycott. Leader of their youth organization, Mali Steiro Tronsmo, is demanding the immediate sell-out of the state pension fund from the ThyssenKrupp company.
Should the government and parliament turn to such measures, Norway’s reputation would be affected both as a NATO-member and an international investor.
It would stir up attention if Norway were to overrule what has become NATO member Germany’s leased base where a German company lets their customer test their submarines before delivery. Just like there is no requirement for end-user certification for weapons sold to partner NATO nations, there should be no meddling into ThyssenKrupp’s business affairs.
If Norway starts using the state pension fund for political purposes, it would raise even more attention.
But it does not seem the Norwegian elite is realizing that boycotting Israel is a boomerang that will hit them harder than it will hit Israel.
At the same time, an international audience can observe that an islamic mullah can make death threats against Norwegian politicians without this affecting the terms of his permitted stay in Norway.
Norway has turned into Absurdistan.
The socialist party has been forced to accept one compromise after another when it comes to the government’s oil industry decisions. But with Israel it is open season. Anti Israelism has become the cause filling the left’s ideological void. As anti-semitism was the glue for the nazis, Israel-contempt has become the one great moral cause stirring up emotions for the socialist party and large sections of the left.
The Labour party and the coalition government are in on this. Although the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jonas Gahr Støre, is opposed to boycotting, this is not worth much when we see how fast his ministry is giving in to demands of boycotting defense cooperation with Israel.
Terjei Leer-Salvesen and Martin Gaarder, two of the people behind NRK’s «Brennpunkt» documentary series, aired on Thursday a program about the Israeli testing of their German manufactured submarines on the Kristiansand naval base.
It is not the Israelis, but the German company ThyssenKrupp who is leasing the base after the town took it over.
When the Marvika naval base in Kristiansand was closed down, the town took over the property. The Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH (HDW) shipyard in the German city of Kiel turned to the town authorities asking to lease the property. A lease agreement was set up with the Kristiansand Port Authority.
All three Israeli submarines in service have been tested during their stay in Kristiansand. The waters outside of Kiel are shallow. In Norway the German company has access to the nearby archipelago, deep waters further out, and an available naval base. The German company is world leading, and has delivered submarines to both the Norwegian and German navy, as well as to numerous other countries.
After having assessed the rules for exporting defense products, the UD permitted technical testing of the submarines from the Marvika base.
The Israeli Army (IDF) confirmed to Brennpunkt that the submarines are being used to uphold the Gaza blockade. Based on this, demands are being raised for Norway to shut Israel out of the naval base.
We are talking about a company from a NATO country leasing property from the authorities in another NATO country. The company lets their customer test a weapon, in this case a submarine. The Norwegian authorities want to stop Germany from letting the Israelis test their submarines before delivery. Technically, the submarines still belong to Germany.
This is a serious matter. Not for Israel, but for Norway.
Press secretary Bjørn Jansen from the UD says the rules for trading defense products between Norway and other countries are clear.
– We do not export defense products to countries in a state of war or countries where war is likely to break out. This is why we do not export these kinds of products to Israel, Jansen says to NRK.
If somebody should still wish to export these kinds of products, they are by law required to submit an application to the ministry.
– And no license will be given, says Jansen.
Does the testing of German manufactured submarines for sale to Israel fall under these rules?
– Yes, it does.
– Does this mean you will not allow testing in Norwegian waters in this case?
– I can not answer that until an application for such testing has been submitted.
The lease expires in September and negotiations for a renewal is currently taking place. The contract is important for the local economy, generating income of about 10 million kroner. Still, both the head of the Port Authority and the leader of the town’s business organization, Jan Omli Larsen, are suggesting that they are personally opposed to the deal.
– Somebody should stand up and state that these kinds of activities are not wanted, for example our owner, Kristiansand town. This is major league politics, Jan Omli Larsen says.
The NATO country Norway has started an unofficial creeping boycott of Israel, and the Norwegian authorities are in on the game. Deputy Minister of Defense, Espen Barth Eide, did not hesitate to exclude an Israeli officer from a defense seminar arranged by the Norwegian Defense Command and Staff College, because «the defense has nothing to learn from Israel’s Lebanon war».
The decision reflects how politics have set aside professional criteria for the defense: What other country is treated in this manner? In the extension of this school of thought, it seems logical to declare Israelis for unwanted in Kristiansand.
But this decision may come with consequences.
It may be perceived as a hostile act by a large partner nation – Germany. Norway is interfering with a large company, mixing politics into economy and weapons production. It shows the slippery slope you enter when you set yourself in a position high above others. It is not enough to keep our own house clean, we have to keep other’s houses clean, too.
Are there no limits for how much can be sacrificed on the altar of moralism?
Translated by Bjørn Brattland