National Sections of the L5I:

Massive Palestine solidarity movement in Norway

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In Norway Israel’s invasion of Gaza triggered massive social unrest across the country, the scale of which has not been seen in decades. Peaceful and violent demonstrations, a two minutes standstill for all trains, trams and subways in the whole of Norway has been some of the main events in the solidarity movement. Also, an appeal calling for the withdrawal of the pension fund from investments in Israel has been launched with massive trade union support.

Strike and demonstrations
The most turbulent day so far was the 8th of January. At four o’clock, the country saw a two minute political strike in solidarity with the people of Palestine where all trains, trams and subways stood still. Their demand was that Israel immediately withdraws all troops from Gaza. Typically it received minimum coverage in the bourgeois media and even in a lot of the left wing media.

Just after this, a militant demonstration outside Israel’s embassy in Oslo took place. At about the same time the pro Israeli organization MIFF (Med Israel for Fred) held an assembly in front of the Parliament in support of Israel’s invasion of the Gaza strip. The assembly attracted around 200 people and among the speakers were the leader of the Liberalist Progress Party Siv Jensen. Demonstrators that had been demonstrating outside Israel’s embassy started moving towards Parliament to express their disgust over the assembly in support of Israel and the invasion. Many of these protesters were unorganized but angry, young Palestinians. As the police were protecting the pro-imperialist provocation, it soon came to clashes between police and demonstrators.

The police used extensive amounts of tear gas to combat the protesters. People inside the Parliament reported that even they got affected by the gas. A police helicopter was also hovering above the protesters giving warning announcements. Fortunately, very few people were injured.

At seven o’clock the same evening a broad torchlight procession without banners, demands or slogans took place about ten minutes walk away from Parliament. More than 11,000 people turned up to this, roughly in proportion to the same number on the 10th of January demonstration in London, if adjustments are made for the ratio of inhabitants. This procession was backed by a broad spectrum of organisations such as all the political parties in Parliament including the Progress Party, whose leader spoke on the pro-Israel assembly a couple of hours earlier. This event was supposed to be “not pro-Palestine or anti-Israel”, but somehow call for peace anyway. Such a program are problematic as it refuse to even recognize the direct cause of the war; Israel’s invasion of the Gaza strip. The result is a very abstract “call for peace” to institutions such as the UN, and peace is something which that organisation has failed to deliver for 60 years.
Considerable demonstrations in support of Palestine have also been held in a tenfold other cities and places all over Norway the 3rd, 4th, 8th and 10th of January. On the 10th of January the demonstrations ended in teargas once again and 160 protesters were arrested. The organisers blamed a minority of trouble makers on the protest. In reality it was angry Arab youth who took action.

The League for the Fifth International defends the right for people to protest militantly against the barbaric onslaught of the Israeli war machine. The fact that the actions of the Arab youth were criticised by the demonstration organisers is in fact a condemnation of the organisers and not the people who demonstrated. The Palestinians and many other Arab immigrants in Norway are nationally and racially oppressed, and by defending a pro imperialist assembly, the bourgeoisie state provoked these clashes.

Appeal Movement
The Norwegian state invests directly in Israel through the Pension Fund, earlier known as the Petroleum Fund. This is the second largest pension fund in the world. As a reaction to this a broad appeal backed by thirty six organizations calling for the withdrawal of this fund from Israel was launched on the 7th of January. The appeal is signed by several trade union organizations, as well as the Red Party and the International Socialist Tendency, to mention some of the more radical organisations.

As the current government consists of the Labour Party, The Socialist Left and the Centre Party, it is noteworthy that both the Labour Party’s and the Socialist Left Party’s youth organization, respectively AUF and SU, has signed it. What is even more noteworthy is that the Socialist Left party itself has signed it. The leader of the Socialist Left Party is also the Norwegian Minister of Finance!
Other demands the appeal could have included is to expel Israel’s ambassador if the invasion does not end, and stop Norwegian capitalists supplying weapons to Israel through the USA. The Norwegian Foreign minister, Jonas Gahr Støre has for many revealed himself as a lackey of imperialism as he is doing little or nothing to put pressure on Israel to call the invasion off.

The way forward
Demonstrations alone do not normally end wars. It has to be combined with other actions that force the government to act in favour of the majority. In 2003 in London, when as many as two million people were marching for the Iraqi people and against invasion, it did not stop the occupation from taking place. One of the reasons for the failure of this was because the leaders of the movement did not want to take the next step, calling for a general strike. A general strike is a way of clearly demonstrating that the working class has the real power in society because it is the producing class. A way forward for the movement in Norway now could be to put pressure on the government to withdraw the pension fund out of Israel, by calling for a general strike if the government fails to do so. As the overwhelming majority of the Norwegian population is on the side of the people of Palestine in this war, such a suggestion from the leaders of the trade unions and the anti war movement would be no doubt more than welcome. We must organise to make it happen!