FOR activists quickly ran out of leaflets with the slogan «No to arms to Ukraine!» during a demonstration against Israel’s war on Gaza.
On Wednesday 18 and Friday 20 October, the Palestine Committee organised a demonstration in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in protest against Norway’s passivity in the face of Israel’s genocidal attack on the Palestinians in Gaza. Later in the evening on Friday, a group of activists with origins in several Muslim religious communities in Oslo organised a new and even better attended commemoration. Activists from Peace and Justice (FOR) participated in all three marches with leaflets.
The vast majority of those who took part in the demonstrations accepted the FOR leaflets with interest, but when the last and largest demonstration started, there were few leaflets left. To ensure that only those most interested would receive the remaining leaflets, the activists stopped handing out to everyone, but instead went around shouting the message «Are you interested in information about a new party that says NO to arms to Ukraine?” This immediately led to more people coming up and wanting leaflets. Some young men wanted to help hand out the few leaflets that were left, and that was the end of it.
Opposite message from Rødt and SV
Former Rødt leader Bjørnar Moxnes, who held an appeal at the Palestine Committee’s first demonstration on Wednesday, came with a completely different message. Moxnes made a point that Rødt, who supports Norwegian arms deliveries to Ukraine, demands that Norway must not only react when it is an enemy of the West that violates international law. “We must also demand that Norway protests when it is one of our allies that attacks and occupies, as Israel does in Palestine”, said Moxnes, to muted applause.
SV leader Kirsti Bergstø also held an appeal at the demonstration, and expressed support for the demands from the Palestine Committee that Norway recognize the state of Palestine, ratify the UN convention against apartheid and introduce a boycott against goods produced in countries that violate international law settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Bergstø did not mention the Ukraine war in her appeal.
No parliamentary parties on the Palestinians’ side
Although both Red and SV give full support to the Palestine Committee’s demands, it was clear from the reception the FOR activists received with their leaflets that many Palestinians and other demonstrators with a background from the Middle East and other Muslim countries still do not perceive that some of the current parliamentary parties are on their side. Even though Rødt and SV express support for the Palestinian cause, it is Ukraine they want to give weapons to, not the Palestinian resistance.
«Listen guys, here are some Norwegians who actually support us!»
Many therefore enthusiastically expressed their agreement with the message the FOR activists brought:
The other parties are hypocrites. Although Israel has occupied and illegally annexed Palestinian land for decades, it says the conflict must be resolved through negotiations, while Russia must be driven out of Ukraine by force. Russia has broken international law, but Israel’s violation of international law, which is not only about annexing land, but also about expelling the original population from there, is much more serious.
We also do not believe arms deliveries to the Palestinian resistance struggle as a solution, but if we are to be able to get a fair peace solution, Israel must be pressured through an international boycott. So when Norway is going to boycott a country for violating international law, we must start with Israel, not Russia.
«Listen guys, here are some Norwegians who actually support us!» said one of the many young demonstrators at the last and largest of the demonstrations on Friday night.
Arms to Ukraine supportS US hegemony – And gives Israel cover
The experience of the deep injustice that lies in the West’s differential treatment of Israel’s and Russia’s violations of international law is one reason why so many of the Palestinian demonstrators expressed strong support for the slogan «No to arms to Ukraine» . However, the arms deliveries to Ukraine also affect the Palestinians a more direct way.
Israel would never be able to carry out a genocidal war against the Palestinians in Gaza without full backing from the United States. This is made clear by the fact that the US has sent two aircraft carriers to the Eastern Mediterranean to deter Muslim states in the region from entering the conflict on the Palestinian side. The fact that the US has the ability to do this is related to the fact that the country is still the dominant superpower in the world militarily, and that the goal of maintaining this hegemony is what the war in Ukraine is generally about.
The background for Russia’s invasion is NATO’s plans to incorporate Ukraine into NATO. NATO has carried out several wars of aggression and occupations contrary to international law after 1999, and expansion into Ukraine is perceived by Russia as an existential threat. The fact that NATO, despite many warnings about the danger of a major war, has pushed for further expansion is that expansion of NATO eastward is a prerequisite for maintaining the US’s role as the dominant superpower in the world.
After political and military defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan, many countries have begun to orient themselves away from the United States. The fact that China has also become a more important trade and investment partner for many countries has significantly contributed to this realignment.
Ukrainian NATO membership is a prerequisite for securing NATO control over the Black Sea, which in turn is a prerequisite for securing connections to possible future NATO members in Georgia and Azerbaijan, which in turn is the bridge to the Caspian Sea. Achieving influence over the resource-rich states in the Caspian region has been a strategic objective for the US since the Silk Road Strategy Act was passed in Congress in 1999.
This connection, which many self-proclaimed Norwegian anti-imperialists refuse to understand, is self-evident to most Palestinians. And that explains why the slogan «No arms to Ukraine!» created so much excitement at a demonstration in support of Palestine.