Steven Sahiounie, journalist and political commentator
“There was no such thing as Palestinians,” said Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, in an interview with The Sunday Times on June 15, 1969.
In March 2023, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, denied the existence of a Palestinian people or nationhood just weeks after calling for a Palestinian town to be “erased.”
137 countries worldwide (70%) have recognized Palestine. In 2014 the EU voted to ‘Recognize Palestine in principle’. Within Europe as a whole, only the Czech Republic, Iceland, Malta, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, and Ukraine have recognized Palestine.
We know that the US supports the genocide in Gaza, but what do the Europeans think? In an effort to answer that question, Steven Sahiounie of MidEastDiscourse interviewed the Norwegian expert on the Middle East, Kari Jaquesson.
#1. Steven Sahiounie (SS): EU foreign affairs council held a Peace Summit in Brussels on January 22, chaired by EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell. The EU presented a proposal, which some have called bizarre, to create a framework for a Peace Plan, with the ultimate goal of a two-state solution by 2025. It ignores the genocide being committed in Gaza today, and fails to call for a ceasefire.
How is this proposal being viewed in Europe?
Kari Jaquesson (KJ): Before we start, I just want to let your readers know who I am, Steven, and also that we know each other from when I first visited Syria in 2017 as an independent journalist and I did an interview with you on my stop-over in Beirut. It is a great pleasure to follow your work.
So, I am a Norwegian national, and Norway is not a member of EU, though much of our legislation is being dictated by EU-mandates. Much of our political cast is very pro-EU, even though Norwegians have twice voted not to become members.
I am a private citizen, do not belong to any political party, and participate in public discourse representing only myself. As more or less a household name in Norway, both because of a 20+ year-long TV -career as a fitness and health expert, later as a presenter in different TV-shows, and a debater and op-ed author of so-called controversial issues, I have been able to lift non-mainstream perspectives into the public eye. My profession is still in fitness and health, and in addition I work as a researcher, translator and occasional writer for steigan.no, the only truly independent major Norwegian non mainstream news portal, so I process daily a lot of news, discussion and commentaries from European, American, African and Arabic sources, as well as historical files. I just want to make it clear that I only speak for myself, I do not represent any organization or company.
The distance between the non-elected officials in the EU-administration and the peoples of Europe could hardly be greater. This has been ongoing for years, and the heads of state in West European countries have hardly any popular support at all. The people in Western Europe, and let me include Norway are in great numbers demoralized and struggling to make ends meet. The NATO proxy war against Russia is draining the state coffers, and even in a should-be wealthy country like Norway, we have long lines in the food banks, energy costs have gone through the roof, and the general cost of living is not sustainable for an increasing part of the population. The state is extremely wealthy, but people’s wallets are getting slimmer by the day. Most people have little or no time or interest in politics, and most people get their so-called news from the state-subsidized media, which includes not only the big newspapers and TV-channels, but also former so-called independent outlets.
So, quite frankly, most people do not know about nor care about, nor have the energy or will to reach out to more in depth coverage of such events as the announcement of EU’s proposal. But, on the other hand, there is an impressing engagement against both the genocide going on as we speak, and the occupation of Palestine as such.
“From now on I will not talk about the peace process, but I want a two-state-solution process,” Borell said to journalists ahead of a EU foreign ministers’ meeting.
This concept of two states has been dangled in front of the Palestinian people for decades, but I can’t see how anyone who has followed the history of the occupation for one minute can take such a stand seriously. The Zionist entity has made it perfectly clear, not only now, but through their actions since 1948 that they want all of Palestine, and more. Furthermore, the occupiers deny the mere existence of Palestine, and even of a Palestinian people.
The EU do not use the correct terminology, which is a sure give-away on the partiality. They keep saying conflict, but avoid at all cost the true description. The true description is occupation.
#2. SS: The Israeli foreign minister, Israel Katz, showed EU foreign ministers a video about creating an artificial island next to Gaza to house Palestinians. Various Israeli plans to deport Gazans to the Sinai desert in Egypt, and the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank to Jordan, have been openly discussed.
How do Europeans view the ethnic-cleansing of Gaza?
KJ: In all European cities there have been, and are still huge demonstrations against the ongoing genocide. I am not sure all are aware of all the indecent remarks and proposals for “final solution” the occupiers are announcing. The news coverage is biased, and a notable part of the public are easy targets for the type of shock and awe reporting that dominated the news right after the October 7th incident. Their mind is still fixed on what has long since been debunked as flat out lies.
But even so, an engagement not seen since the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) in France is keeping its momentum, and some admissions are being made by some Western-European leaders.
According to a poll in Norway’s biggest newspaper earlier this month, almost every second Norwegian thinks it would be right to boycott Israel, but the government has no such plans.
Minister of foreign affairs Espen Barth Eide has previously called Gaza “hell on earth”, but has been adamant that Norway cannot implement its own national sanctions. We have no tradition in Norway of unilateral sanctions, he said, adding that Norway would do it if the Security Council agrees. Norway has since 2011 been practicing the same sanctions against Syria as the EU, although we are not a member.
#3. SS: The EU is planning to impose visa bans on 12 or so of the most violent Israeli settlers soon, according to French foreign minister Stéphane Séjourné. However, many of the 700,000 illegal settlers in the West Bank are US citizens, so the ban would likely be meaningless.
Why would the EU propose something so insignificant, instead of calling for the end of occupation in the West Bank?
KJ: First of all, what difference would this make? What is the purpose? And what is this other than a pathetic symbolic suggestion? As you point out, they have dual citizenship, and though the numbers vary, it is reason to believe that hundreds of thousands of dual citizenship-holders have returned to their country of origin. Which is a harsh contrast to the situation of the Palestinians who have no citizenship at all, and who know that if they leave, they will never be able to return.
After this week’s ruling there is a legal ground to accuse Europeans who have been fighting with the IDF to be prosecuted and punished for having participated in a genocide. And there are many who are doing this.
#4. SS: The US Biden administration refuses to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. They are prevented in doing so, even though the majority of Americans are in favor of a ceasefire, because of the Israel lobby, AIPAC, which exerts overwhelming pressure on the politics in the US.
Does Europe have a similar Israel lobby which prevents EU leaders from demanding a ceasefire in Gaza?
KJ: It is almost impossible to understand to what extent France and Britain is controlled by Jewish Zionist groups, but you may get an impression if you try to make count of who is allowed on the TV-debates and the biased perspective from the TV-presenters and who they invite for interviews and for commenting. However, this is a complete taboo and you will not find any serious discussion about this in any major news outlet. No mainstream politician will touch the issue, well knowing it would be political suicide.
Years ago, the former Israeli Minister Shulamit Aloni was a guest on the American channel Democracy Now, and she explained the inability for the Zionists to accept criticism without resorting to false accusations of antisemitism and the second world war. She called it “a trick that we always use”.
Most of the Western European countries, including Norway may be described as ‘vallas’, in other words, satellite states of the United States of America. We have no independent foreign policy.
#5. SS: The German government has been supporting the revenge killing of 25,000 Palestinians in Gaza at the hands of the Israeli government. They keep reiterating the mantra, “Israel has the right to defend itself.” Many experts have characterized Germany as a country held hostage to the holocaust, as they have refused to call for a ceasefire.
Isn’t it time that Germany divorce itself from the crimes of Adolf Hitler, and be allowed to treat Israel like any other country?
KJ: First of all, Israel is not a country, let me make that clear. It is an occupation. Secondly, the occupation is expanding with an insatiable appetite for more land, therefore this supposed country has no borders. Also, it has no constitution.
Is it really the alleged guilt from the second world war that is making Germany so docile vis-a-vis the genocidal Zionist? Maybe there is another reason, less noble. Unfortunately, this is verboten territory.
Germany and many other countries have made research and revisions of that period illegal, even for historians, and even if the number of alleged victims have been significantly reduced, yes, officially, it is forbidden to say so. Even the plaque at the most infamous concentration camp has been drastically revised, something few are aware of.
If the German leadership truly believed in their country’s history and crimes, wouldn’t they be the first to recognize and oppose new genocides? Yes, but they don’t.
Steven Sahiounie is a two-time award-winning journalist