BDS activists protest Israel in Oslo, Norway
BDS activists protest Israel in Oslo, NorwayiStock

The foreign minister of Norway says that her country is going to begin labeling many goods from Israel, because “Norwegian consumers have the right to know whether a product sold in Norway is produced in Israel or in an area occupied by Israel.”

If so, then Jewish consumers around the world have a right to know if a product exported by the Norwegian government is coming from Norway or from Norwegian-occupied Svalbard.

Svalbard is a huge, sparsely-inhabited territory, more than 23,000 square miles in size, in the Arctic Ocean. It’s not next door to Norway. Not even close; it’s located more than 1,200 miles north of Norway. The Norwegians don’t need Svalbard for self-defense, and they don’t have any historical claim to the land. So, by what right, exactly, has Norway been occupying Svalbard since 1925?

The first explorer to sight the group of islands where Svalbard is located was Wilem Barentsz, a Dutchman, in 1596. So maybe Svalbard rightfully belongs to the Dutch.

The first ship to land in Svalbard was English, in 1604. So maybe it should belong to the Brits.

The Danish and the French set up outposts in Svalbard later in the 1600s. Sounds like Denmark and France have a better claim to the area than Norway.

Later in the century, Russians showed up. They were latecomers, but they were still there ahead of the Norwegians, who didn’t start hunting in the Svalbard region until the 1790s.

In 1925, the Norwegians got aggressive. They used their clout at the Paris Peace Conference following World War I to wrangle the “Treaty of Svalbard,” granting them sovereignty.

But what makes that treaty valid? Countries that win wars are able to impose new boundaries. That doesn’t mean their decisions are necessarily right or just. It’s merely the ‘right of might.’ I don’t see how Norway’s claim to Svalbard is superior to that of the other countries whose explorers preceded the Norwegians by many decades.

The assorted fishermen, hunters, and scientific researchers who reside in Svalbard today are being denied their right to self-determination. Nobody asked them if they want to live under Norwegian sovereignty.

Maybe they would prefer to be part of Holland, Britain, Denmark, France or Russia. Or maybe they would like to be part of Free Svalbard.

All of which highlights Norway’s brazen hypocrisy. The Norwegians say Israel is “illegally occupying” Jerusalem, and therefore products coming from most parts of the city, as well as Judea-Samaria, have to be labeled.

Well, the Norwegians have been occupying Svalbard for a lot less time than the Jews have been in Jerusalem. To be precise, Svalbard has been part of Norway for 95 years. Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for over 3,000 years and was the capital of several sovereign Jewish kingdoms during much of that time.

Israel’s right to Jerusalem is enshrined in history, the Bible, and international law. Norway’s right to Svalbard is based on arbitrary border realignments following a world war. Norway has no historical or religious claims to Svalbard.

When Norway’s foreign minister tell us that her country’s labeling action against Israel is just some kind of consumer protection, I say: Nonsense. The sole purpose of labeling those products is to facilitate the boycotting of goods made in most of Jerusalem and other parts of the ancient Jewish homeland.

And the purpose of boycotting them is to bring about Israel’s economic collapse. That’s what the leaders of the BDS movement themselves say.

For Norway to aid and abet those who seek Israel’s collapse is outrageous and immoral. Even more outrageous and immoral than Norway’s continuing occupation of Svalbard.

Stephen M. Flatow is an attorney and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.”