A Norwegian lawmaker defended his nomination of the “legitimate, peaceful, non-violent” Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel for a Nobel Peace Prize.
“The BDS movement is a legitimate, peaceful, non-violent movement trying to push the Israeli government to abide by international law, and trying to struggle for a peaceful solution in Palestine and in the Middle East,” Bjornar Moxnes told the Middle East Eye news site in a Friday interview.
Despite targeting Israeli academics and business, he insisted the campaign is one aimed solely at the Israeli government and not at the Israeli people or the Jewish people.
The BDS movement was one of over 200 nominees for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, which can be proposed by a host of individuals, including parliamentarians from any country and university professors.
Responding to the nomination, Likud MK Sharren Haskel penned a letter to Norway’s Ambassador to Israel Jon Hanssen-Bauer along with several Norwegian lawmakers, expressing her dismay.
“There is nothing peaceful about delegitimizing a country’s academic and cultural institutions that are critical to creating an environment conducive for peace,” she wrote.
Moxnes deflected charges of anti-Semitism, telling the Middle East Eye that his stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “is completely free of anti-Semitism.”
“It’s not against the people of Israel. It’s not against the Jewish people; it’s against the policies of a state, which (are) without doubt against international law,” he claimed.
For her part, Haskel wrote that “it is clear that the BDS movement’s ultimate goal is to destroy the State of Israel.”
“Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, yearning for peace with its neighbors and affording its citizens equal rights, irrespective of their color or creed,” she wrote.
Moxnes is the chairman of the far-left Red Party, which holds one seat in Norway’s parliament of 169 members.
“We try to make sure that Norway acts as a peace nation, not as a nation taking part in the US wars all over the world,” he said of his faction.
He argued that the majority of Norwegians support Palestinian rights and “that they have a right to have their own state and decide their own future; and that’s the main goal of the BDS campaign.”