This interview was published yesterday at INN.
Op-Ed: Anti-Israelism in Finnish Politics
Published: Saturday, April 21, 2012 10:14 PM
Interview Series: Ken Sikorski, pulisher of Tundra Tabloids blog: “A Left Alliance party parliamentarian Anna Kontula accused Israel of being a ‘child torture state.’”
One finds Israel’s worst enemies in Finland’s Parliament among the three left wing parties. The Social Democrats have 42 parliamentarians and they are the second largest party in the 200-member Eduskunta (Parliament). The Left Alliance and the Green League have 14 and 10 seats respectively.
“Social Democrat Minister of Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja maintains a disingenuous air of impartiality and support for a ‘two state solution.’ Yet in his previous term as foreign minister from 2000-2007, he compared Israel’s behavior to that of the Nazis.”
Ken Sikorski is a retired American living in Finland since 1987. He publishes on the internationally-known Tundra Tabloids blog. Without this publication, hardly anything regarding the anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism found in Finland would be known abroad.
Sikorski elaborates: “In an interview in the magazine Suomen Kuvalehti in 2001, Tuomioja demonized the defensive measures Israel employed to counter Yasser Arafat’s terrorist war by saying: ‘It is quite shocking that some implement the same kind of policy toward the Palestinians which they themselves were victims of in the 1930’s.’
“Before Tuomioja became Foreign Minister again in 2011, he signed an online petition of the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD) which opposed arms trade between Finland and Israel. Finnish arms sales to the Saudis however, failed to elicit a negative response from him.
“In 2011, Tuomioja stated on a discussion panel that the existence of any country based on apartheid is not justified or stable. Afterwards, he tried to backpedal, yet already in 2003 he had described Israel’s security fence using similar comparisons.
Hardly anything regarding the anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism found in Finland is known abroad.
“Tuomioja’s ministry oversees the Finnish funding of NGO’s. In an NGO Monitor report from 2006, it was noted that ‘Since 2000, the Palestinian- administered areas have been in the top sixteen recipients of Finnish development funds and have received roughly €28 million ($34m) in bilateral funds from Finland overall. […] However some of its funds are being diverted to promote politicized NGO’s that contribute to incitement [against Israel]’
“Finland is one of the governments funding Palestinian school books. Ido Mizrachi from the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education said to the Knesset Education Committee in 2010 that ‘official PA textbooks defined Jews as “snakes”, “racists” “colonizers,” and in addition they glorified “shahids.”’ […] “In atlases in PA textbooks, Israel is not there,” he added“
The Left Alliance Party (Vasemmisto) is even worse. Its spokesman and current Minister of Culture. Paavo Arhinmäki. said in November 2011 on a local television program that Israel had participated in genocide of the Palestinians.
A month earlier, the Ministry of Education sponsored an anti-Israel ‘peace seminar.‘ The speakers included Israeli revisionist historian Illan Pappe and Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunima. A colleague of mine phoned the Ministry of Education to complain about the government office’s involvement. He was informed that Arhinmäki’s Ministry was responsible for the event.
“In a parliamentary debate about arms trade between Israel and Finland, a Left Alliance party parliamentarian Anna Kontula accused Israel of being a ‘child torture state.’ She stated that in general, Finland shouldn’t have anything to do with such a ‘child torturing state.’
“The spokesman for the Left Alliance’s youth division Dan Koivulaakso, is a recurrent extreme voice in the anti-Israel movement. In 2010, several Finnish leftist activists were banned from entering Israel for ten years, after they had lied about their reasons for a visit. Koivolaakso then condemned both the Finnish embassy for not sticking up for his comrades and Israel for not letting his lying party members in.
“One finds more of the same in the Green Party. In 2003, its Parliamentarian Anneli Sinnemäki, chaired a panel on the Middle East conflict at the University of Helsinki. I recall that she mentioned her complete ignorance of the issues surrounding the conflict in the introduction of the seminar titled: ’Independence or Continued Occupation?’ She thanked her colleagues on the panel for offering their ‘expertise.’ Its members all belonged to the hard left.
“The Green Party’s anti-Israel rhetoric often knows no bounds. Its former Chairman Osmo Soininvaara had at one time approved of a comment on his blog expressing the desire to see all Jews driven into the sea. Only after much outrage did he delete the comment without offering an apology.
“In 2009, the Green party’s online magazine Vihreä Lanka, published an anti-Semitic cartoon, where the Israeli flag was equated with the Nazi swastika emblem. According to the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), anti-Semitism includes comparing contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis. The magazine never apologized for the cartoon, nor did any party politicians express any condemnation of it.”
Sikorski concludes, “One finds major enemies of Israel in the Finnish Lutheran Church and among several NGO’s as well. To analyze those however, would require another full interview.”