Scandinavia offers lessons for those seeking to continue the supply of foreign aid to Hamas. The Reuters, via the Washington Post notes that the very Scandinavian nations which have been most generous in supplying aid to Muslim nations are now the objects of their wrath.
For years, Scandinavian countries have been among the most generous with aid to the Muslim world, but that generosity has stood for little in the scandal over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.
In the past week, Scandinavian embassies have been set ablaze in Syria and Lebanon and bans have been put on Danish exports, creating a row that threatens to unravel the substantial goodwill Scandinavia had in the Middle East.
Despite the vast contributions Nordic countries have made, analysts suspect Denmark's heavy—handed approach to immigrants may be one reason behind the Muslim backlash. And they worry that it could take a long time for reputations to recover.
Heavy handed? Compared to what? Do foreign workers in Saudi Arabia receive full benefits of a welfare state? Do they have the right to even worship their oiwn religion?
That's bad for Scandinavia, but it may also be bad for aid recipients such as the Palestinians, just as they face a crunch over funding following militant group Hamas's election victory.
Norway brokered the Oslo accord between Israel and the Palestinians in the early 1990s; Norway and Sweden are the top single donors of aid to the Palestinians after the United States; and Denmark launched an "Arab initiative" in 2003 to promote understanding. Its presidency of the European Union helped set up the "roadmap" for Middle East peace.
"That is why is has hurt so much to see the pictures of flags being burned and all the threats against the people who are there to help the Palestinian people," said Fathie El—Abed of the Danish—Palestinian Friendship Association.
Let's call this a learning opportunity for our friends in Scandinavia.
Ed Lasky and Thomas Lifson 2 09 06