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Helsingin Sanomat Columnist Disparages Israeli History as ‘Mythology’…….

Helsingin Sanomat columnist, Pentti Sadeniemi, characterized Israeli history and archaeology in his column (HS.1.25.07), as being “pure mythology”.

In an essay meant to disparage states and national groups that continue to maintain claims on lands lost through war and time, Sadeniemi labels the Israelis as the “clear record holders of such a group whose traditional right of ownership of Palestine produced both a written and archeological somewhat historical record based on pure mythology“.

“Kosovon kentän taistelusta on yli kuusi vuosisataa. Aluevaatimusten ikäennätystä pitävät varmasti hallussaan israelilaiset, joiden perimmäinen omistusoikeus Palestiinaan halutaan johtaa sekä kirjoitetun että arkeologisenkin historian tuolta puolen, “puhtaan mytologian alueelta.”


Unfortunately Sadeniemi’s type of animosity that is directed towards the state of Israel, is not an uncommon occurrence in the Finnish news media.

This is in part due to the lack of discourse which stems from the “culture of consensus” that is apparent in Finnish society. It directly effects debate which usually results in the lack thereof. Anyways, my response/rebuttal intended for the op-ed section of the same paper appears below. *L* KGS

Pentti Sadeniemi errs in his editorial (HS 25.1.07) Eternal Claims to Lands Lost / Ikuinen oikeus menetettyyn maahan. In trying to prove his point that states longing for areas lost through war has its limits, he also includes Israel, labeling them as the all time “record holders” for the length of their endurance for being attached to the ancient land of Israel. Sadeniemi’s insinuation that the Jewish dream for a state of their own, is some how comparable to the Serbs wanting to regain control over Kosovo, or the Japanese longing for the return of the Kuril islands from Russia, or Finns wanting to be united with eastern Karjala, is entirely wrong.

The peoples mentioned already enjoyed the security that their own statehood afforded, including Finland, Jews however did not. The world recognized then, as it should now, that Jews needed a secure viable state to ensure against another holocaust, to become a land that Jews could immigrate to in times of great peril and persecution due to a rise in anti-Semitism. Is Sadeniemi not sympathetic to the reason just mentioned, or just ignorant of it?

As the historical record plainly shows, Jews, at great personal peril, had always maintained a significant presence in Palestine, comprising the majority in the areas which were earmarked for the Jewish state. In 1947, the UN General Assembly voted in favor of resolution 181, thus recognizing Jewish self determination in these areas and partitioned Palestine into two states, one for Jews and the other for the Arabs.

Sadeniemi also states that Israel’s historical and archaeological record is “pure myth”, a pretty daring statement of revisionism, and something that the so called “new historians” have been busy cultivatng for some time now. For example, Helsinki University’s Hannu Juusola expresses similar thoughts in his book, Israelin Historia.

In spite of Juusola’s claim of being an impassioned “myth busting” observer to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, he openly supported the historical revisionism of the discredited Benny Morris in his response to an earlier my op-ed that was published in the Univesity of Helsinki monthly magazine, “The Yliopisto ” (8.06). Myth making is an essential part in the revisionism of Israeli history, and if one is going to write an educational editorial, its important not to base it on revisionist myths.

2 Responses

  1. First of all, even Benny Morris changed his mind, in his latest book.

    Also, if this columnist is against nations’ pining for lands lost in war, wouldn’t that also apply to the Palestinians? Not that I would want this criterion to be used against them, either. But it is kind of ironic.

  2. Hi Joanne,

    The curious case of Benny Morris. This is a man who harbors the ability of entertaining two diametrically opposed thoughts and believing both to be true. According to friends of mine who know Morris personally, say he tends to agree with the loudest voice in the room. He habitually speaks from both sides of his mouth, so one can be assured that though he states a position or “fact” in a book, he will most likely be caught saying the complete opposite elsewhere, without it causing him the least bit of worry whatsoever. So no, I am not impressed whatever he has recently written, because he won’t be bound to his own words.

    About Palestine, seeing that Palestine was never a state, but a region, makes it hard for anyone to lay claim to something that never existed in the first place.

    It would be as if a people suddenly took to calling themselves “The Scandinavians” and demanded the return of that ancient homeland from their Nordic neighbors.

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