Transcript: NRK report on Ester Kristoffer, April 24 2004

[Transcript of an NRK news report on the Saturday evening news on April 24, 2004. Translated from Norwegian. Back to blog entry: The NRK report on Ester Kristoffer. -BS]

Dagsrevyen Studio

Einar Lunde - Here in Norway, the Israeli government has silently begun a close cooperation with several organizations and congregations.
? - The goal is to improve Israel's reputation in Norway, and soften criticism against Israel's treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Black-white pictures from the creation of Israel (?). Cars full of flag waving people drive through the streets, people dance in circle. Background music: A man sings "Jerusalem, Jerusalem". Voice: "Yes, I must confess that Israel has become my second homeland."

Present day: Israeli flag outside the embassy in Oslo.

Anti-Israeli demonstration near the embassy. Shouts of: "Sharon, terrorist, Sharon, terrorist." A flag is burned.

Kristin Halvorsen (leader, Socialist Left party) - This is an arrogant occupation power.

Jan Petersen (leader, Conservative party) - Israel must also end their liquidation of Palestinians.

Back to the demonstration. A Palestinian (?) woman shouts: "Boycott bloody, murderous Israel!"

Ester Kristoffer walks through a corridor. Eirik Veum: "They're losing the battle for understanding and sympathy. Influential people are now coming together to revive the support for Israel."

Ester arrives at a door.

Eirik Veum - What will happen in here?
Ester Kristoffer - We are about to have one of our group meetings, where a small part of the network is present.

The Israeli embassy. Eirik Veum: "In cooperation with the Israeli government a network has been established in Norway. The network will work to improve Israel's reputation, and find a way back to the golden age of the post war years, when Norway was an important supporter of Israel."

Black-white pictures from a Norwegian pro-Israeli demonstration. Banner: "Israel must live".

Einar Gerhardsen (post-war Labor PM) comes out of an airplane, speaks to the press: "There is a high level of mutual understanding and friendship between the Norwegian and the Israeli people."

Pictures from the UN in 1948. A man reads a newspaper headline in "Palestine Post": "Partition approved .." Eirik Veum: "After the creation of the Jewish state in 1948, Norwegians had warm feelings for Israel. Most political parties and a united Norwegian Church gave their full support to the new state. Many forgot that another people already lived in the Promised Land."

Back to the pro-Palestinian demonstration. Eirik Veum: "50 years later much has changed. It is now Palestinians who receive support and sympathy. This is what the network wants to change."

Ester opens the door, enters. A group of people sits around a table, (Jan Olav Arnegård, me, Lars Ruben Hirsch and about 6 others). Eirik Veum: "Today one of the work groups is gathered. The idealists plan activities where they intend to show the results of what they refer to as Palestinian terror."

Pictures from terror attack in Israel. A bus has been bombed, people are shouting, a man holds a child in his arms. Several people lie on the ground and receive first aid. Eirik Veum: "Murdered Jewish children, massacred by a Palestinian suicide bomber. It's attacks like these the network wants us to learn more about. And then Norwegians will finally understand."

Back to the meeting. Shots of people speaking, (including me). Eirik Veum: "This group is only a small part of the network. The leaders with power and resources do not take part in the meeting. They prefer to work for Israel outside the media search light. Ester Kristoffer is the network's external face."

Veum interviews Ester Kristoffer at a cafe.

Eirik Veum - Is this a kind of hidden and secret network?
Ester Kristoffer - No, it is not. But there are some people who see the media as a burden, and who fear that any involvement with the media will be negative.

Eirik Veum: "According to Ester Kristoffer, people from the military, the business community, former employees of NRK and TV2, and politicians at Stortinget are part of the network. The network finances its work by raising money for a fund.

Ester Kristoffer - I don't know how much we may get. There are people in this project who believe we may get millions in the long term.
Eirik Veum - Who are the most important supporters of the network?
Ester Kristoffer - The network would never have been able to carry out its activities, and could never have created a fund with this much money, if it weren't for the strong support we've received from Christians.

Veum interviews Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the Council on Ecumenical and International Relations.

Eirik Veum: "The leadership of the Church of Norway has repeatedly distanced itself from Israel's policies. But beyond their control, a massive campaign of mobilization has begun. "

Camera zooms in on a document listing dates and names of Norwegian congregations.

Tveit - What seems more and more clearly to be happening is that there are powerful forces who want Norwegian Christians to join them in their support of Israel, and to soften criticism of Israel's activities. It's important to be aware of what's going on. It is apparent that some of this takes place partly in hiding.

Web browser with the homepage of IKAJ, the Norwegian chapter of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, then the leader of IKAJ Leif A. Wellerop as a guest on a TV program.

Leif A. Wellerop - My involvement as a friend of Israel is based 100% on the word of God.

The picture of Wellerop freezes, turns to black and white. Eirik Veum: "This man is referred to as one of the key people in this mobilization of Christians. He heads the Norwegian chapter of what they refer to as the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem."

Picture of newsletter from IKAJ: "Why support Israel?" Eirik Veum: "15 000 Norwegians are formally attached to the organization."

Olav Fykse Tveit - We note that the Christian Embassy mixes religion, a Christian conviction, with a very clear political goal of supporting Israel even when Israel do things we believe are in violation with human rights and Christian ethics.

Eirik Veum: "There are still many Christians who raise questions about Israel's treatment of the Palestinians."

Map of Norway. Dates and names of congregations (the same as earlier) are printed gradually across the screen. Eirik Veum: "The International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem therefore runs an information campaign aimed at congregations all over the country. That way they hope to create a mass movement in support of Israel. Everything takes place in close cooperation with the Israeli embassy in Oslo."

Pictures w/Israeli (?) music: An Israeli tank shoots in the desert, a fighter plane flies by. Transition to a meeting at God's Lamb Church: The picture of the Israeli fighter plane is gradually reduced in size and moved so it covers a big screen at the front of the Church. Jørn Øverby is speaking.

Jørn Øverby - War is not something we want. If only the Arabs would calm down there'd be no war. Can you imagine a Jew going to war, if the enemy .. the neighbouring states are calm? No. So if only the Arabs would behave, there would be no war.

Pictures from God's Lamb Church, the camera zooms in on a cross and a map of the world with the text "Compassion".

Eirik Veum: "God's Lamb Church is one of the congregations that have been mobilized for Israel. We were invited into the church. The leader spoke of his views on Palestinians, his work trying to get young people to support Israel, and his cooperation with the Israeli government. But after some thought, Jørn Øverby decided that he did not want to contribute to this report.

The Israeli Embassy. Eirik Veum: "The Israeli government is also silent about the cooperation it has with its Norwegian supporters."

Eirik Veum - Are you in contact with the Israeli government?
Ester Kristoffer - Yes, we are.
Eirik Veum - How?
Ester Kristoffer - We have an ongoing dialogue with the Israeli Embassy about what we're doing, and we're also talking to the Foreign Ministry in Israel.

Pictures of an Israeli tank driving straight towards a stone throwing Palestinian boy. More stone throwing kids. Eirik Veum: "Palestinian children try to chase away Israeli soldiers. While a network is working for Israel in Norway, the brutal reality continues in the occupied territories."