Conservative Christian group ‘Israels venner’ encouraged people to boycott this year’s telethon claiming Norwegian People’s Aid is anti-Semitic.
Mandal member Eli Anne Sjølinsgstad Egset sent an SMS to her many friends prior to Sunday’s event, which read, "We, as friends of the Jews, shall be turning our backs on them [Norwegian People’s Aid] on Sunday in response to the last ten years’ anti-Semitic attitudes and lies that have been served by [the] Socialist Left (SV) organisation.”
"We wish express our thoughts about this, and at the same time emphasise that we shall be giving our gift to another organisation. Let us demonstrate our opinions as a group and send this request on to those you know. Regards, friends of the Jewish people,” reads the text from the small group, quoted by Aftenposten.
This year’s NRK telethon was to raise funds for clearing mines, cluster munitions, and other remnants of war and conflict. Countries particularly affected by these explosives are Vietnam, Laos, Sudan, Lebanon, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Tajikistan, according to Norwegian People’s Aid.
The Late Princess Diana supported the International Campaign to Clear Landmines. In January 1997, she visited hospitalised landmine victims in hospital whilst serving as an International Red Cross VIP volunteer.
Oddvar Berge, an Israels venner member in Grimstad, commented that rallying to the aid of Israel was particularly necessary now. He leads a group called 'Noriel', which he describes as working to bring out "God's truths about the people and Israel."
“It [supporting Israel] is about that those who curse Israel shall themselves be cursed. Those who bless Israel shall themselves be blessed. God always remains the same. We cannot, therefore, just sit and be silent about all of the wrong things that are happening. There is a severe anti-Semitic change regarding the Middle Eastern conflict in Norway,” he says.
According to Norwegian People’s Aid General Secretary Liv Tørres, “The TV campaign embraces many and contributes clearing mines and cluster munitions in six countries.”
“The purpose gathers all faiths. We are politically neutral and support a two-state solution in the Middle East. Norwegian People's Aid has never been an anti-Semitic organisation.”
Former Christian Democratic Party (KrF) leader Dagfinn Høybråthen calls Israels venner’s boycott “tasteless” in his blog. The group has Norwegian MPs amongst its members.
“They do not like Norwegian People's Aid and what they stand for in the Middle East. For my part, I encourage everyone to donate to make a difference. People in need are people in need, regardless of politics and religion. It is not possible for those who have the Bible as a guide to ignore that Jesus identifies himself one hundred percentof the poor, sick and persecuted. Cursing people does not belong in New Testament Christianity, even if they criticise Israel strongly. It is time that Christian leaders correct such delusions,” he writes.
Hildegunn Hansen, head of Media Relations at the Israeli Embassy in Oslo, tells Sørlandet-based newspaper Fædrelandsvennen in an email they are aware of the Israels venner SMS, and that the embassy supports the telethon.
“The telethon is not a time todiscuss political differences, but to support people in need. Israel recognizes the important work being done to clear mines, to save children, women and men from unnecessary damage caused by conflicts around the world,” writes Ms Hansen.
Israels venner’s Ms Sjølinsgstad Egset has confirmed she sent the text but denied being its author, declining requests for interview, Aftenposten reports.
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