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PMW impact in Norway: Government questions its funding of the PA

Yaakov Ahimeir  |

Cracks in the Norwegian veneer

by Yaakov Ahimeir

Norway, of all places, suddenly has doubts about the financial aid it offers the Palestinian Authority. Norway is one of the PA's biggest supporters, giving it some $50 million a year. Now, someone has woken up and the Norwegian media wants to know: "Where is our money going?"

Questions surrounding the results of Palestinian projects that the Norwegians have funded have even reached the country's state television station, NRK.

Tormod Strand, a senior journalist with Norwegian public TV, decided to follow the money trail; and together with Itamar Marcus, who heads "Palestinian Media Watch" — an Israeli research institute that monitors the PA's media and schoolbooks — produced two episodes that presented the unadulterated hatred preached by the Palestinian Authority's media towards Israel and the Jews.

From the first story, Norwegians viewers learned, among other things, that the Palestinian Authority's media lends great credibility to "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," the false 1903 document that alleges a Jewish conspiracy for global domination.

The second story focused on exactly where the financial aid given to the Palestinian Authority by Norway was going. According the report, the money ends up, among other things, supporting the families of Palestinian arch-terrorists who are imprisoned in Israel. It also funds media outlets that perpetuate hatred and incitement to violence.

Speaking to Strand, I asked him if he encountered any difficulty from Oslo's state TV when he wanted to air the stories. He said he had not.

The shows had a political impact in Norway: the parliament ordered the formation of a commission of inquiry, which was tasked with recommending whether Oslo should continue its financial aid to the Palestinians and if so, to what extent.

Those privy to the commission's work say that while the financial aid would probably keep flowing, it is likely that Norwegians would also demand to see the money earmarked for specific projects whose goals have nothing to do with, for example, funding terror.

Some of the winds are changing in Norway, at least where financial aid to the Palestinians is concerned. A sign of the changing times was evident in the surprisingly warm welcome new Israeli Ambassador to Oslo Naim Araidi — who was appointed by former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in July 2012 — received.

Araidi hears many opinions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and those expressed by Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide sound more moderate and measured now, unlike those made by his predecessor, Jonas Gahr Støre.

Norway's true colors have not changed yet, but the high-profile stories carried by the county's main television stations may soon help thaw the northern glacier, bit by bit.