How Norway Became One of Israel's Best Friends

Journal article

Waage, Hilde Henriksen (2000) How Norway Became One of Israel's Best Friends, Journal of Peace Research 37 (2): 189–211.

After its founding in 1948, Israel was to become much more than just a state that Norway was on friendly terms with. It became one that Norway officially supported in the UN and enjoyed good diplomatic relations with. Enormous admiration was felt towards the little country - not only in Norway's more religious and conservative circles, but notably within the labour and trade movements, within the governing Labour Party and the government itself. This article looks into how this special relationship was established in the decisive formative years during the 1940s and 1950s, asking how close links came to be forged between the social democratic governments and parties in Norway and in Israel. In both countries, these were in a strong position, with the labour and trade movements as their power-base. In Norway, the governing Labour Party even enjoyed firm support from the Christian and Conservative opposition. Which political attitudes were taken towards Israel, what shaped Norway's policy on the Middle East, and how can it be explained? Emphasis will be put on the decisionmaking process and on how Norway's ruling Labour Party interacted with the Foreign Ministry, the 'centre of the opposition'. Why were top Foreign Ministry officials opposed to the creation of Israel, and what effect did this tug of war have? And ultimately, why did Norway become one of Israel's best friends?

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