The tragedy in Oslo, Norway has led us to into some not-usually-traveled territory: Norwegian politics. And as we try to get a better understanding of the political climate in the grieving country, here is some of what we are learning.
The day before Anders Behring Breivik opened fire on youths at a Labor Party camp, organizers welcomed the country's foreign minister. Now, the foreign minister's message from that day has been revealed: it was an anti-Israel speech in which he came out in strong support of a Palestinian state. That message was something being supported by the camp's attendees, who were part of the ruling Labor Party's socialist youth movement called AUF.
According to a translated report for Norwegian news station TV2, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store visited the camp on the island of Utoya on Thursday, the day before Breivik opened fire on campers killing over 80 of them.
"Together with the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation correspondent Sidsel Wold and Norwegian People's Aid Kirsten Belck-Olsen, discussed the Foreign Minister of the deadlock between Israel and the Palestinian Authority," the Google translation of the article says.
As foreign minister arrived Utøya he was met with a demand from the AUF that Norway must recognize a Palestinian state.
- The Palestinians must have their own state, the occupation must end, the wall must be demolished and it must happen now, said the Foreign Minister to cheers from the audience.
Earlier this week, when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited Norway, the Minister said to TV 2 news channel that Norway stands ready to recognize a Palestinian state . This he repeated during the debate on Utøya.
- We are ready to recognize a Palestinian state. I await the actual resolution text Palestinians will promote the UN General Assembly in September, said the Minister.
In fact, a picture taken by Reuters during the foreign minister's visit shows one youth holding up a sign saying "boycott Israel" in Norwegian:
For starters, AUF is affiliated with the group called the Young European Socialists (ECOSY). Understandably, ECOSY posted a condolence message to AUF -- which populated the island camp -- on its website. That message was also signed by members of the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY) and referred to the AUF youths as "comrades:"
The Labor Party, which is Norway's largest political party, also trumpets socialist thought. A translated explanation of the party says it wants "a strong welfare state, controlled by the government and financed through taxes and duties beyond the nation's income."
"'Work for all,'" it adds, "has been the party kampsak [or motto] since the 1930s."