Doubling down on stupid.
In an op-ed piece published today at the Suomen Kuvalehti, Pertti Salolainen writes a whining screed depicting himself as ”a victim” over his statements (made last year on Finnish state TV) that fellow Kokoomus politician Ben Zyskowicz described as ”misguided choice of words’‘ which described Jews in America of having large influence over the media and money.
Lets first go to the video……….
His opening salvo in the op-ed is completely bogus:
Pertti Salolainen: This is how I was made into a Nazi
“‘Quite a lot” feels like an understatement. The two-word omission from the quote launched a firestorm, however, the result of which, I became wrongly labeled to the rest of the world as a Nazi, “writes MP Pertti Salolainen.
“The most saddest part of this whole mess was the official part of it, how the Finnish Embassy in Washington handled this issue.”
The following Salolainen script was originally published on Kanava 3/2013 (Rev. 26.4).. Suomenkuvalehti.fi publish a post in full.
What Salolainen is claiming, is that ”aika paljon” (quite a lot) was left out of the quote, when it wasn’t, and in fact, that portion was highlighted, being accurately translated.
The infamous story got its beginning on the Yle Morning TV in a debate on the last day of November, the night before the incident a politically charged UN vote for Palestinian observer-ship in the global organization was confirmed. UN Member States, the vast majority, accompanied by Finland, voted in favor of Palestine’s role.
Most attention was focused on why the U.S. voted against it. More generally, of course, is of interest as to why the United States finds it difficult to deal with issues relating to Israel. I was on morning TV in the process of analyzing the issue with a few other experts, and there was the usual, discussion, small-time program.
Yes Pertti Salolainen was in a debate, but not in a hotly contested debate like one would see on US or British television, everyone was giving each other time to speak and in measured tones. Salolainen was sitting listening to others speak, formulating his own response before he made his outrageous statements. This was not an ”off-the-cuff” remark in a spirited debate, this was done in a calm, cool and collected atmosphere which is generally the norm in Finnish political debates. There were no talking over of the other etc.
After the program, YLE news editor released on the basis of the discussion in the news, a statement. I was quoted in the news as follows: “The United States finds it difficult to take a neutral position in the Israel-Palestine issue, because they have such an influential Jewish population, which has both the money and the media in their hands. The U.S. Administration has not correctly ventured for internal political reasons, to do enough with this case. “
The quote however, was incorrect, as I said in the debate of the Jewish population “that quite a lot of the media and money is in their hands.” So quite a lot of money and media in their hands, and not all of the money and the media.
It was not until several days later, when the case had become such a huge fuss did it became clear that I had been wrongly quoted from the YLE news story. As I was wondering about the brouhaha, and I began to investigate and found out that my statement had been presented to the rest of the world in a wrongly worded form.
Some had fed it to the specialists for hunting Nazi criminals, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which had called the Embassy in Washington, as well as demanding evidence of my being relieved by the Government of Finland of all political positions of trust.
First of all, this might be the case of how it was reported within the Finnish media, but certainly not the way it was reported outside of Finland through this blog as the record clearly shows, in both the video with proper subtitles and the article in the JPost, as well as in the SWC press release itself. The misquote in the YLE article was not the source for the quote that went around the world (nor does it matter), the Tundra Tabloids’ accurate quote was, which had properly included the ”aika paljon” portion in the quote (quite a lot) which was more than enough.
Once more, in both cases, the SWC, on the very same day of the YLE broadcast, as well as the J’lem Post article by Benny Weinthal on the following day, included the ”aika paljon” portion in their quote of Pertti Salolainen.
It’s very obvious to me that Pertti Salolainen is trying to reinvent the historical record surrounding his highly outrageous comments, as well as doubling down on his original intent, that ”American Jews have to a large extent (quite a lot) both the US media and money in their pockets, and as a result America has a disproportionate favorable view towards Israel”.
In short, in trying to rewrite the record to exonerate himself, and he’s done it again, he really did mean what he said!
The message had also gone, inter alia, to the Jerusalem Post, and to other media, and who knows where else. The next day, Jerusalem Post claimed that I said that “American Jews have a tremendous wealth and power of the media in the United States.” In the same newspaper correspondent Benjamin Weinthal’s article states that the Helsinki-based website Tundra Tabloids had sent the newspaper a translation of my statement, and the TV program translation. Tundra Tabloids called me a “part-time anti-Semite,” who declares intense anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, propagating a modern version of the 1800s anti-Semitic Protocols of Zion.
Rude messages start to come
Finland’s scandal began to emerge. The Iltasanomat published the outrageous comment of the Jewish Community’s President of the Central Council, Gideon Bolotowski: “Salolainen’s night table should have a change of some other books than the Protocols of Zion and Mein Kampf, in which the Jewish domination of the world is very much present.” Emails started raining in believing that I supported these crude messages.
Correction again for Mr.Salolainen, the JPOST article by Benjamin Weinthal that he refers to, includes the following quote that he insists isn’t there:
“Now about the United States, it finds it difficult to take a more neutral stance on the Israel-Palestine issue because they have a large Jewish population who have a significant control of the money and the media. The US for internal political reasons is afraid to become adequately involved. This is a sad truth about US politics.”
Oh, and I stand by my claim that Pertti Salolainen is a ”part-time antisemite. I look to non other than Dr.Manfred Gerstenfeld for an accurate description of the term:
In contemporary Western societies, mainly neo-Nazis and a substantial number of Muslims are full-time anti-Semites. The predominant type of European anti-Semite is the part-time one. It is a typical expression of contemporary society in which structures, attitudes and opinions have fragmented and many personalities are split.
Grass is a part-time anti-Semite. He demonizes Israel, yet claims in his poem that he’s a friend of Israel. However false that claim is, no full-time anti-Semite would take the trouble to say it.
Pertti Salolainen looks at the Israeli demographic of US society, deems them as being solely the ones who are ”manipulating the US into a disproportionate relationship with the state of Israel” regardless of the fact that the Christian religious community, as well as the non-religious portion of society, identify with Israel from a position of shared values, and have traditionally exerted more clout within the US than the tiny Jewish minority.
This makes Salolainen both an ignoramus of US society, and someone who looks too closely at the Jews for an easy explanation. He made a classic antisemitic statement, based in part, from antisemitic influences. It doesn’t make him into a full blown antisemite, but a part-time one.
Also, the justice system was put on the attack by the ever alert Johan Bäckman who sent a request for a criminal investigation as soon as it appeared on the same day 30.11.2012, to the Helsinki Police Department, I put forward the view of an “evil Jewish conspiracy”, which dominates the U.S. media and the banks.
My opinion was according to Bäckman racist and anti-Semitic, and he relied, inter alia, on Gideon Bolotowski and the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s positions. The notice was addressed by the Prosecutor General’s Office, who concluded that there was no reason to suspect a crime and a criminal investigation was not necessary to be carried out. In addition, the decision stated, “that the political freedom of speech is especially protected, because it is the foundation of a democratic society.”
Under the law, therefore, not even in the wrong format the quoted statement was not condemned. To the judiciary, this was obvious, but to the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs it was not. Latter it become clearer how hard I would have liked to remind the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the freedom of expression, and in particular the extent of the rights of parliament.
Johan Bäckman had nothing to do with the dissemination of the original quote, he’s nothing more than an opportunist who teamed up with the now (I believe) defunct Finnish Islamic Party once chaired by Abdullah Tammi. They were gathered together to voice opposition to Sofi Oksanen’s (then) newly released book, ”Puhdistus” (Purge), deeming it anti-Soviet/Russian.
As the brouhaha became bigger I had become more and more perplexed, because out of the ten most significant authorities on Finnish foreign policy, five had congratulated me for my excellent analysis. Most of them had either seen the program or were otherwise aware of the position on the basis of how things are in the United States. It is rare to get such large and hard-praise.
Yle corrects reluctantly and late
The crucial difference between the mass media YLE broadcast version, and my message was therefore, as follows: I told the program that the United States “has so influential Jewish population, which has both the money and the media in the hands to a large extent.” There is a huge difference if they say that the glass is filled with water or that it has quite a lot of water. Not to mention the fact that I would have said that they have an enormous power in their hands, such as, inter alia, The Jerusalem Post had wrongly quoted.
Only after receiving a number of e-mails and my demands, did YLE’s newroom editor announce that it has added to the original report these important words: “quite a lot”. Unfortunately, it was too late. The water glass was already leaking some.
It says a lot about these Finnish foreign policy makers, who agree with Pertti Salolainen’s comments, Finnish politicians and bureaucrats are still prone to the same dizzying misinformation and propaganda about Jews, Israel and the U.S.. Finnish foreign policy sure doesn’t look good from a US perspective.
Again, the brouhaha resulted from the accurate transcribing of the original quote I posted, not from the lack of it, this dunce still doesn’t get it, which shows just how much removed Finnish politicians are from the real weight of international politics. Screwballs, at least Salolainen is and those who still support his being stuck on stupid.
He is actually arguing for the inclusion of the very words that got him into trouble, and still hasn’t a clue about it. Either way, with or without the inclusion of ”quite a lot”, ”rather a lot” or ”to a large extent”, it doesn’t matter.
In fact, I could not have possibly accepted YLE’s original story, because I had not said it, and the most important part is not even true. Instead, what is actually said is absolutely true, and the same thing can be heard from any foreign policy analyst. This issue should be able to analyze more broadly, but in short sentences television is not the luxury of time.
U.S. Israel lobby (religious and Jewish) is really a significant influence in the country’s foreign policy, but especially Israel and the Middle East policy pronouncements. The effect is even so great that President Barack Obama recently had great difficulty in getting his candidate Chuck Hagel as U.S. Minister of Defense, the Israel lobby fought against the appointment in the Senate even to the very end.
Hagel was not considered sufficiently Iran-negative and Israel-positive, as he had once held, among other things that the Jewish lobby intimidates many in Congress, and that U.S. Middle East policy has been, in fact, against the country’s own self interests. For example, in 2006, Senator Hagel said in an interview that “the Jewish lobby intimidates here (ie, the United States Congress) people. I’m not Israeli, Senator, I am a United States Senator.
So in effect, Pertti Salolainen is laying the case (in concrete) that he’s entirely sympathetic with Chuck Hagel’s position on Israel, that Israeli lobby (he really means Jewish) works against US self interests. These outrageous statements by Chuck Hagel, were roundly condemned by pro-Israel groups throughout the US, Jewishj and non-Jewish groups alike. So Salolainen is amazed by similar outpourings of condemnation for voicing the same opinions?
Distinguished themselves in international politics, Professors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt have written on a on the matter a book that has caused a huge outcry, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. The work’s central claim is that current U.S. policy undermines both the U.S. and Israel, but also the UK’s long-term security. Against this background, it is interesting that President Obama has now in his second term transforming BUSH’s Middle East policy.
On a recent Israel-Palestine on a visit, he strongly supported the two-state solution, and sharply criticized Israel’s settlement policy. He left the impression that he is going to make a powerful new attempt in the Middle East peace solution, despite the difficulty.
I also got support and understanding
Much damage was my statement’s incorrect form that I already had a chance to follow, but, fortunately among my commentators were also discriminating people such as Jewish MP, my colleague and friend, Ben Zyskowicz. Also, he said that the statement in the form widely reported could have been the case, and found that the choice of words were a failure. It was essential to that, he emphasized, “that Pertti Salolainen in any event, is no anti-Semite, let alone a racist. On the contrary, he has 40 years of knowledge on the basis of a tolerant and equitable disposition for all minorities and persons. “Zyskowicz also strictly criticized the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s intervention “which indicates that they do not understand the Finnish political system.”
Mearsheimer and Walt received condemnation for their over the top ”analysis”, something that Salolainen obviously agrees with, and without reservations whatsoever. As for Ben Zyskowicz’s statements of support, I deem that out of political and friendship considerations than having anything to with the truth. Remember, no one is calling him an antisemite per say, but a part-time one, which invokes a sense of ignorance of what he’s saying or doing, not out of evil intent.
It is interesting that Finland’s new rabbi Simon Livson was asked in a television interview what he thought about the Simon Wiesenthal Center, this Finnish debate, he said: “I must say that it was perhaps a bit strongly expressed.” Livson also noted that the “as Ben Zyskovicz has previously said that perhaps this was an overreaction.”
What’s amazing, at the thing itself is well-known and considered to be uncontested. For example, the Helsingin Sanomat’s foreign policy commentator Olli Kivinen wrote (HS 18.12.2012) a few weeks after that morning television debate he wrote in his column as follows: “The West’s credibility is undermined the entire time when Western leaders speak out time and time again – under the United States leadership – Israel’s expansion of settlements, with self-righteous pronouncements, but don’t do anything. The US lower chamber of Congress is the prisoner of religious right-wing and Jewish pressure groups. The EU fights in a traditional way and does nothing.” There is nothing I would add or take out of Kivinen’s evaluation.
Finland’s Rabbi, Simon Livson, not being fluent in Finnish, I will refrain however from issuing a statement on what he knows or doesn’t know, and why he said what he did. As for the Olli Kivinen article, it only serves to underline the mindset of Salolainen, an ignoramus on US domestic issues, and its relationship with the Jewish state of Israel.
Finnish Washington Embassy’s sad screw up
The media frenzy was only the beginning, and the most saddest part of this whole mess was the official part of it, how the Finnish Embassy in Washington handled this issue.
Simon Wiesenthal Center had asked the Washington embassy explanation of my statement, so it would have been natural that the embassy would have asked me for a comment or a draft reply. I had only been able to correct any misunderstandings in the bud in a public letter had they avoided the Wiesenthal Center.
That did not happen, the Washington delegation asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Helsinki for a response, which was made a part of official duties. I consider both the answer to be incomprehensible and Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, to whom the reply letter had not been read before sending it, thought it was a failure. There is nothing else that can be said about it.
The embassy would only be able to say that the embassy or the Ministry hasn’t a right not to give their opinions of MPs. It could also say that MPs have a particularly freedom of expression guaranteed in Finnish democracy and the report of the opinion is that there was nothing reprehensible. And the fact that the Finnish government does not provide any right to dismiss a parliamentarian from office.
How did the Foreign Ministry then answer Ambassador Ritva Koukku-Ronden signed letter? First, of course, Ambassador mentions that she can not comment on a politician’s words, but nonetheless regret it, if the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which work is greatly respect in Finland, is displeased with them. This at the most, should have ended the matter.
But what followed is the incredible part, in which there was humiliation and asking of forgiveness as if something bad had been done.
The letter described in detail on how the Finnish government is still committed to Holocaust remembrance related to the Stockholm Declaration of the Finnish Parliament, the President told of the donation of the International Auschwitz Foundation, the Finnish fight for human rights and racial discrimination, and how Finnish teachers tell about the Holocaust in schools.
These are important issues, which are, of course, I am in favor, but why they were in the letter, in response to me on improper media coverage which started all this? I will say frankly: on the part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs this is a case of scandal at rock bottom. The answer lacks seriousness and respect for the Finnish parliamentary democracy.
More whining based upon the false premise that he really didn’t do anything to start the brouhaha rolling. The MFA’s response should have reflected the seriousness of the matter, since a sitting MP and a seasoned politician for over 30 some years takes to berating the Jews in the most important Western county in existence, of having disproportionate influence over its government in terms of money and media.
Pertti Salolainen closes by saying:
What comes to my mind, how as a minister I acted with the current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu whom I hosted at the Finlandia Hall at the Israel Day celebration. At the time, I was also one of the few Finnish politicians, who do not come up with excuses to not visit with the Israeli war hero Moshe Dyan during his visit to Finland. I was also one of the first ministers to make an first official visit to Israel. It did not interest the media then.
The most important thing is that those who are familiar with the matter itself, will agree with me. Thus, the Jews have quite a lot – and the Jews and religious groups of the Israel lobby – has a great influence on U.S. foreign policy, and in particular – Israel policy. And most of all: this analysis is true.
Of course, it’s too much to hope those who spread the false information, the mockers and the Simon Wiesenthal Center would apologize. The groundless labeling have been unfair.
Written by Pertti Salolainen, Member of Parliament (Conservative) and the Vice Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. He has worked for Foreign Trade of Finland’s EU membership as the chief negotiator and ambassador in London.
Get a grip. Everything that this blog has written about concerning the entire sordid affair (that he initiated all by himself) has been factual, and no amount of rewriting the historical, factual record is going to change that. So go and cry for us river Pertti, just remember, you’re the one who singled out American Jews using the worst forms of antisemitic tropes seen since the days of the Protocols and Der Sturmer, and now you double down on your stupidity for the entire world to see.