A routine matter of racial profiling by Israeli authorities has spiraled into a diplomatic attack on Norway’s largest labor organization.
“Unless and until LO rectifies the shameful boycott resolution and puts an end to its discriminating practices against the only Jewish state, its leaders should not expect getting a business as usual treatment from Israel,”
— Raphael Schutz, Israeli ambassador to Norway
Mohammed Malik, a Norwegian citizen with Pakistani heritage, had joined a trade union study tour organized by the Palestine Committee of Norway, but was stopped for questioning by officials at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport on 17 Feb. While all other members of the delegation were allowed to continue on their trip, Malik spent the night in detention before being deported and issued a lifetime entry ban.
During Malik’s interrogation, Israeli agents discovered that he was a member of the Norwegian Food and Allied Workers Union. He was questioned about his union affiliation and the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions’ (LO) policy toward Israel.
“My name was obviously the reason I was taken aside in passport control,” Malik told a LO-affiliated newspaper. “But they deported me because I am a [trade] unionist. I was thrown out because I am affiliated with the LO.”
Last May, LO — Norway’s largest labor organization — voted to support a full economic, academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
According to Malik, the stated reason on his entry ban was “to prevent illegal immigration,” and officials refused to provide any further explanation. In March last year, the Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed new legislation barring entry to organizations that promote the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.