Finnish media India Islam Israel media bias Mumbai Terrorism

Finnish Media Shows Its Anti-Israel Bias Once Again…….

There were a couple of fresh incidents over the weekend, in which two highly respected Finnish news organizations, the Helsingin Sanomat and the Suomen Kuvalehti, engaged in the all to familiar practice of moral equivocation and demonization of Israel.

Tundraman alerted KGS to both stories, with the first one coming from the pages of the editorial section of the Helsingin Sanomat, where in a ‘guest pen’ editorial, Sonja Lende, (a woman who is making a doctoral thesis in “security policy” at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem) makes no distinction between the sides of the Palestinians and Israelis.

Both sides are seen as being the moral equal of the other that need to reign in their ‘extremists’ for the sake of the peace process, which is bound to begin with the incoming administration of US president-elect Barack Obama.

Tundraman: Sonja Lende writes a Guest Pen story about Obama possibly “stepping up peace negotiations in the Middle East”. Her point is that the main obstacles to peace lie in “the extremist movements“ on both sides. What is noteworthy is that she makes NO DIFFERENCE AT ALL between the two sides – nor between “Israel” and “Palestine” – in her conclusions:

“The leadership of Israel and Palestine should first and foremost calm down their own extremist movements. They are the most forceful opponents to the peace process and, under the pretext of religious law, elevate themselves above secular law, thereby growing away from political facts and the goals of the peace process”.

The text continues until the end to speak of these “extremist movements” in plural form, making no distinction what so ever between the Israeli and the Palestinians sides.”

Tundraman is correct in pointing this out, but also noteworthy is the fact that, the only time when the Finnish media treats Israel equally in the conflict with the Palestinians, is when they are reporting or musing about them negatively. Or put differently, if the Palestinians are deemed by the media as being guilty of something, then its something that they share in common with the Israelis.

Also, Sonja Lende (intentionally or unintentionally) distorts the reality that exists within both camps, because for the Palestinians, extremism (killing Jews) is not considered “extremist” by either their leadership nor by the public at large. The couple hundred extremists inside Israel however, do not curry favor with either the Israeli government nor with the overwhelming majority of the Israeli public. That is a major difference between the two, but Sonja Lende is unable to make any distinction between both societies, though there is a world of differences.

And then there is a familiar name that is involved with the next example of failure in journalism, over at the Suomen Kuvalehti, Jari Lindholm, owner of the Stupidest Man on Earth blog.

Tundraman: “In the latest SK (number 49, 5.12.2008) there is a four-page article on Mumbai written by Jari Lindholm, “Terror from the North”. Basically, it says that “The bitterness of the Muslims lies behind the Mumbai bloodbath, but terror in India is imported goods” (p. 21). Mainly, Pakistan is accused for this, but the article admits that “some younger generation Muslims have got more inspiration from al-Quida than from Pakistan” (p.23).

However, two things are noteworthy here: (a) there is not a single word in the article about the Jewish or Israeli victims, and (b) the article ends with an interview with the “Finnish expert in international law, Martti Koskenniemi”. After having commented upon Mumbai, the author of the article had evidently deliberately asked him about Israel, because this is how the article ends: “Was, for example, Israel’s attack on Libanon in 2006 an illegal war, because the government of Libanon was innocent to the activities of the Hizbollah-organization?

“Of course it was illegal, there was not the slightest doubt about that”. “

Now, as I see it, there is nothing wrong with using the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah/Lebanese government, and compare it with the strikes on Mumbai by Pakistani nationals in order to figure out where international law stands on situations such as these. No doubt, Lindholm, as well as professor of international law, Martti Koskenniemi, believe that Israel had no justification in waging a war against Lebanon based on the UN’s own charter.

But whether or not they are wrong in their analysis (they are), Lindholm was well within his rights to pursue that line of questioning. What I take exception to, is his lack of mentioning at all, the fact that Jews as well as Israelis were targeted in the attack in Mumbai. Both Tundraman and Al Avai take note that:

a) the terrorists used 20 % of their manpower on Jews
(b) the Jewish target was chosen one year in advance
(c) it had no outer signs according to which it could be identified as Jewish, and
(d) it targeted the only Jewish Rabbi in a town of 20 million inhabitants.
(e) it had no relevance to local issues or to Middle Eastern ones.

(f) it wasn’t like they were just among other foreigners in a hotel lobby or random people in a train station.
(g) He willfully ignores this!

So Jari Lindholm takes note (wrongly) that Israel was not justified in responding to Lebanese attacks in 2006, while in the same article, failing to mention that Jews were also among the number targeted in the Mumbai attacks. Jews were targeted in Mumbai due to Islam’s holy books embodying language that easily incites the Muslim faithful to kill Jews, because they are traditionally seen as being enemies of the madman from the Arabian desert.

Jews were by no means the main focal point for the attacks, and to depict them as such would not be factual or correct. But the other side of that coin, is the fact that they were deemed as being important enough targets to factor into the early stages of the Islamic terrorists’ devilish plans. Jari Lindholm failed to mention that in his four page article on the Mumbai attacks. So the logical question is to ask…why? KGS

NOTE: Here is what the TT wrote on Jari Lindholm’s blog concerning a post on the Mumbai attack.
I had an opportunity to discuss the very same issue, the Israeli response to Hezbollah’s attacks in 2006, with Israeli MFA senior international law advisor Daniel Taub when he came to town earlier this year in a private meeting. He said that Israel had every right to respond in the way it did under international law. For one, Hezbollah was/still is a part of the Lebanese government, which has allowed the Hezbollah to maintain a state within a state.
Regardless of the reasons of why the Lebanese government has allowed such a situation to continue, nevertheless, it’s responsible for what what takes place on and from its own soil. Period. Only Koskenniemi knows for sure what he was thinking when he offered that opinion to you, but it was badly flawed. Also, when judging what is proportionate use of military power, which no doubt Koskenniemi wrongly deems Israel’s use of it to have been ‘disproportionate’, one has to not only weigh/consider the force already used by the enemy, but also the overall threat it poses at the time.
So Koskenniemi errs in his reading international law, who, for the most part, parses/reduces international law from the most robust reading and interpretation into the smallest defintion possible, which means skipping over the parts he just happens to disagree with. Otherwise he would be forced to recognize the fact that Israel was well within its rights to act the way it did. Koskenniemi would not stand a chance in a legal debate with Mr.Daniel Taub over the issue, that I am certain of.

4 Responses

  1. Kenneth, you have a point.

    Not mentioning the attack on the Jewish Centre at Nariman Bhavan was an unfortunate omission on my part, although partly dictated by lack of space. And I do understand that my question to Prof. Koskenniemi regarding the 2006 war probably sounds biased in this context.

    Yet, there is no hidden agenda behind any of this. In fact, the Lebanon question popped into my mind, just as we were about to wrap up the interview, as the closest example I could quickly come up with of a war that may be considered morally right but legally wrong.

    I’d say this one’s more of an example of human fallibility than anti-semitism.

  2. I understand and thank you for your explanation Jari, and accept your words at face value, but where in hte world was the gate keeper(s) in all of this, was Tapani Ruokanen & crew asleep at the switch?

    I know for a fact that before anything is printed, it's proof read first, so it's not just your oversight, it's the oversight of others at the Suomen Kuvalehti magazine as well.

    For people who follow the news *very closely* where Israel is concerned, there is a very detectable thread of bias that winds it way through much of the reporting, which, due to the unprecedented amount of news coverage in Finland, creates a gross misconception of Israelis and by extension, of Jews.

    The Finnish media reports on an average of 1.5 days on anything remotely related to Israel, with much of it being overwhelmingly negative. In pointing out that Israel is a "law breaking" state in the 2006 war with Lebanon, (which it's not) only serves to highlight that trend in Finnish news reporting.

    Contrary to the average Finnish perception, Israel is very much a law abiding state, so much so, that one would be hard pressed to find any other state in existence, that was in a similar situation, that acted in a more moral way.

    There is a predictable failure with the Finnish media to point out that Israel can eloquently defend its policies using international law, and that many non-Israelis who are well versed in international law have defended the Israeli interpretation of IL, is indeed telling.

    There is a loathing in the Finnish media to report on the UN being used as political tool to wage war on the Jewish state by Israel's enemies, for the sole reason to dehumanize and deligitimize it.

    And that is anti-semitism.

  3. I guess we all considered this a story about the culprits, not the victims. At a time when many in the media were blaming India for the attacks, it was important to point out that they were, in fact, launched from Pakistan — and on that, we have been proved correct many times over.

  4. One could say that your latest statement could be a definite proof of my whole point, Jari, in that the fact it was precisely
    in a story about CULPRITS (not vctims!) that ISRAEL somehow "popped
    into your mind" just at the end of your interview with
    Koskenniemi.

    From where do you think that the "popping" originated? One could answer that the answer is, from a repressed antisemitism.

    “Many on the left are firm in their condemnation of racism and would almost certainly not accept that they were guilty of antisemitic discourse. Ignorance of the history of anti-Jewish prejudice means that some perhaps do not even realise that the language and imagery they have used has resonances of a long tradition of anti-Jewish
    discourse and stereotypes. However, here again we wish to draw a distinction between antisemitic motivation and effect…"

    (Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Report on anti-Semitism, London: The
    Stationery Office Limited, 2006, page 40).

    Antisemitism may not have been the (conscious) motivation – certainly
    there was no CONSCIOUS "hidden agenda" here – but it certainly was an effect. This is where also Ruokonen & crew should be better informed – and MUCH more alert.

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