Doctors Mads Gilbert and Erik Fosse worked in Shifa hospital during the Gaza war, and also doubled as news reporters. After the war they proceeded to publish the best-selling book “Eyes of Gaza”, now in its fourth edition, in what with certainty must be deemed the most spectacular public relations endeavour to be carried out by any Norwegian ever since adventurer and explorer Fridtjof Nansen won international recognition for Norway by crossing Greenland on foot in 1888.
The similarity between Nansen and the NORWAC doctors ends there, on a technical level. True, Nansen’s feat was (at least in part) a political marketing ploy intended to place Norway on the geo-political map, but it was a legitimate ruse – Norway was at the time shackled to Sweden in a union which ran counter to popular will. “Eyes of Gaza” is written with the sole intention of moulding popular perception in accordance with the Manichean perspective of its authors.
“Eyes of Gaza” is not suited for anyone seeking knowledge or understanding, as the book itself is not based on either of these qualities. To the contrary, at every perceivable opportunity “Eyes of Gaza” distorts fact (when it is not conveniently omitted), blends it with hearsay and supplements it with photographs of maimed and dying children, the combined effect of which is to instil in the heart of the reader not only the firm conviction that Cast Lead was unjustifiable, but a passionate dedication to the Palestinian cause and a vehement disgust with Israel. In this the authors succeed extremely well.
“The story of how a small humanitarian foundation such as NORWAC ended up in the role as courier between Fatah’s officially approved minister of health, Fathi Abu Moghli, and Hamas’ minister of health, dr.Bassem Naim, goes all the way back to 1982.The Palestine-committee sent emergency teams to Lebanon when the country was attacked by Israel in 1982. After Israel occupied Southern-Lebanon, we understood that the solidarity organization no longer would be able to send health-workers to the Palestinians refugee camps there. At the counsel of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the Palestine-committee established NORWAC, as an independent humanitarian organization. Little by little NORWAC build up a network of projects in Lebanon and Palestine and gradually became an independent humanitarian foundation.NORWAC was an unknown organization in Norway up to this last war in Gaza. All projects were financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and for short periods the Directorate for Development Cooperation (NORAD).The first years NORWAC cooperated with different private organizations in Palestine and Lebanon.”
“The name of the land where this conflict is occurring is Palestine. Both the state of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza lie in Palestine. We therefore refer to both the West Bank and Gaza as “Palestine” or “occupied Palestine”, not the “Palestinian territories”.“The Israeli military calls itself “Israeli Defence Forces” (IDF). The acts of war we write about are acts of “attack” and “expansion” rather than “defence”. We therefore use the more neutral term “the Israeli military forces”.“We have chosen to call Israelis or Egyptions who serve in the regular national military forces, for “soldiers”. Palestinians who are not part of a state-army, but who carry out armed resistance against the occupation under the direction of known or unknown Palestinian parties and groups, we have chosen to call “fighters”.
“Eyes in Gaza” claims that the IDF during Operation Cast Lead had as its intention to target and kill as many civilians – not Hamas – as possible: Chapter “Jumama”, page 14-15:
“Another told of how ground forces from an Israeli armor-unit position (stridsvognstilling) had forced many from the Samuni family together into one of the family’s houses for the night, only to bomb the house the following day, full of people. The Samuni-family is large. All in all around one hundred family members, also women, children and the old, are to have been forced into a warehouse in Al Zaytoun before they attacked the building.
Could such a well-organized and experienced army as the Israeli implement a comprehensive massacre on defenceless, unarmed civilian Palestinians? An army under the leadership of officers who receive orders from a state apparatus which likes calling itself one of the strongest democracies in the world, led by a president who has received Nobel’s Peace Prize? It sound too barbaric.It must be a mistake, an inflated rumour, an exaggeration. There was much confusion and many rumors which circulated in Gaza during these days, and imaginations are ofter worse than reality. Not in this case.
Unfortunately it turned out to be true. There was a massacre. It was no mistake, but obviously a planned, systematically implemented military operations of the Israeli army. Soldiers from the Israeli armed forces had carried out this monstrous act. Our patient, little Jumana, was only one of many victims in the Samuni –family this day. More were to come.”
“The family was forced together in a large house during the daylight hours of January 4th, almost one hundred women, children and men in all ages. They had to spend the night in the house without food and water, almost as hostages for the Israeli ground forces, which had taken up positions nearby. Early the next morning the house was bombed by the Israelis.”
Chapter 14: “The war criminals”, page 269 – 271:
“The Israelis knew well what they were doing, who they were firing upon, and what they hit… They daily summed up and discussed the course of the attack, they knew that they were to hide it – and they knew they were unable to eliminate Hamas. But that was not their purpose.
The purpose was to collectively punish the entire Palestinian population of Gaza. The punishment was a merciless slaughter of women and children, old and young, men and women and a demolishing bombardment which was to push Gaza decades back into time. The year-long blockade of Gaza did not hit the civilian population at random or unsystematically, but with deliberation. As little were the massacres caused by arbitrarily erroneous bombing. The killed children were not a result of the dark of night, wrong coordinates on the GPS sights or one and another undisciplined soldier. The killed and damaged women were not really supposed to be spared. Like the civilian men they were all caught in the crosshairs of / aimed at by the rifles, drones, helicopters and fighter planes because they were to be killed, injured and terrorized. All Palestinians in Gaza were terrorists for the Israeli soldiers. Therefore they were also in their eyes legitimate targets for attacks, injury and murder.”
Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre (on back cover of book – see above):
“When war rages, the civilians are made mute. Erik Fosse and Mads Gilbert were in Gaza as doctors in January 2009. In addition they told of what they saw. It was not their duty, but it was their responsibility. When military might fences out all voices, the few which remain become extra strong – and important”.
Former Prime Minister Kåre Willoch:
“Israel held journalists away while subjecting the people of Gaza to unfathomable suffering. But two Norwegian doctors were there. Their powerful narration throws a powerful spotlight on a brutality which also damages Israel, and impedes peace”.
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg: (VG on January 11th ):
On Saturday evening Prime Minster Jens Stoltenberg published a post on Facebook where he acknowledged the two Norwegian doctor’s contributions.
– I have this evening called and spoken with both Fosse and Gilbert. My message was to express gratitude and acknowledge the work the work they have put down in order to alleviate the suffering of the population of Gaza since December 31st last year. They have not only assumed a considerable professional responsibility, but also demonstrated great personal courage and humanity. They have been a voice out to the world, writes Stoltenberg.
NORWAC doctors Gilbert and Fosse are without doubt experienced doctors. Tragically, they have stared recklessly and unblinkingly into the abyss for such a long time that they have themselves become part of it. Their book, designed for the specific intent of shaping popular perception, reflects this sad fact.
Gilbert and Fosse’s “Eyes in Gaza” will increase Norwegian sympathy for extremist Palestinian movements such as Hamas, movements which seek neither peace nor coexistence with Jewish Israel but solely its complete destruction. This sympathy will continue to translate into funding and political support from the Stoltenberg government, which in turn will feed the very same warmongers who perpetuate the conflict.
Many Norwegians want so desperately to be “good”. Yet by surrendering to the emotional politics of Gilbert and Fosse, they unavoidably end up supporting the very forces which make peace impossible. Such is the nature, intent and consequence of “Gilbert’s war”: a moral and intellectual tragedy for Norway as much as it is a physical and political tragedy in the Middle East.
Fridtjof Nansen risked his life by braving the unforgiving inland of Greeland so that the world might acknowledge Norway as a sovereign nation. Gilbert and Fosse report from their work in the safe zone of Shifa hospital during the Gaza war, so that Norwegians may acknowledge genocidal Hamas as warriors of a legitimate cause. For Gilbert and Fosse, Norway is nothing but a sanctuary from which they, under the guise of humanitarianism, can gather support for the wars of political extremists.
For anyone interested in marketing in general and “branding” in specific, “Eyes of Gaza” is a must-read.
NOTE: The Tundra Tabloids republished NIJ‘s full report only because a URL link is not attainable at the Norway, Israel and the Jews website. The TT suggests that you visit the NIJ blog often, it’s a fountain of information on Norway’s deeply entrenched anti-Israel bias, which at times spills into overt anti-Semitism. KGS