Thursday, April 28, 2005

Even more than the The Bimbo of Finland, the Finnish Foreign Minister, Erkki Tuomioja, is perhaps the most incompetent Finnish political leader today.

His decision to bar the sale of gas masks to Israel points to an ineptitude in foreign relations that is simply breathtaking.

P.S. Some of the comments in the link really point out how poorly Finns have explained their role in World War 2 to the rest of the world. Doubtlessly the Finnish government's decision to join the festivities in Moscow to mark V-E day will not help the matter.

32 Comments:

Anonymous Antti said...

One wonders how cynical and disingenuous can Tuomioja get?

8:50 PM  
Blogger nozick said...

One wonders, how misinformed and out of sync can a blog be. The decision by Tuomioja, as well as the Israeli answer are dated 2002. And the equipment in question was not gas masks, but gas detectors.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

Ah, you are quite right, gas detectors it is. But so what if it happened in 2002? It was a bad decision, bad policy, and reflects a complete duplicity in terms of Finland's much-vaunted equanimity.

And it is a reflection of an innate anti-Semitism in Finland.

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happened is that there were some objectives well hidden in the view that Finnpundit promotes.

Read the Finnish language part also.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

And what may those well-hidden objectives be, anonymous? I know what the non-hidden objectives are.

Finland is anti-Semitic, and anti-American. And the more that is exposed to Americans, the less Americans will be deceived when it comes to assessing relations with such a freeloading state.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

Finns know the art of dissemblance to an enormous degree. Most of that was learned during the Cold War, as anti-Russian Finland all of a sudden had to pretend to be friends with its arch-enemy. The whole art actually spawned a unique political stance, finlandization, that has confounded and confused outsiders as to the true meaning of it. Although a successful policy - Finland survived the Cold War - it did create a mind-set in Finland that is hard to shake off, now that there’s no use for it.


For in the end, finlandization is about being two-faced. It was not a case of Finland saying one thing, and meaning the other. What it really amounted to was Finland saying one thing, and meaning it, but then thinking the other thing, only in Finnish. Thus facts are always brought forward to explain a policy position and a stance in a way that displays a certain reasonable logic. But underneath there is always a certain seething contempt.


And that is what the Finnish government’s position in this Israeli sale ban reflects. It is a position straight out of the how-to guidebook on finlandization. Finland is profoundly anti-Semitic, and anti-Israel, - you can hear it all the time, if you understand the language. Yet it gets artfully hidden, especially when Finns explain themselves in another language.


I think that the Israeli reaction was skillfully parried by the Finnish government. The comments on that link reflect the disparate, - and often wild - readings made of the Finnish stance (which is how the Soviets must have reacted at times). Yet, knowing Tuomioja’s political thinking, how can one assume that he was not motivated by anti-Semitism? All Finns know exactly where he is coming from. All Finns know exactly how he feels about Israel. But all Finns also know that the art of finlandization means that you hold the line with certain facts, and never admit exactly how you think and feel.


And, perhaps, that means that there is a dark side, to evil little Finland.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Antti said...

Google News anti-Semitic?

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=15687_What_the_Hell_is_Going_On_at_Google_News&only=yes

7:44 PM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

Google and Yahoo are very left wing, if you haven't noticed.

It's also funny how so many left wingers are anti-Semitic, nowadays.

8:47 PM  
Anonymous Antti said...

I don't use their news services, but I've heard comments to that effect, yes.

11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Pundit,

Finns are anti-American and anti-Semitic. I'm Finnish-American and half my family lives in Helsinki. I'm married to a man whose father survived the Holocaust. I speak Finnish, and I hear anti-American crap from my family all the time.

You're right on target.

Sign me,

Anna

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Antti said...

Anna, I'm only humble commenter here, but nice to have you on board.

1:46 AM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

A great way to figure out if Finns are anti-Semitic is to simply ask Finnish Jews.

I've had two occasions to ask Finnish Jews about it, and also, once, a Swedish Jew about the same in Sweden. All three were completely in agreement: anti-Semitism was widespread in Scandinavia. Two of them had emigrated to the US because of it.

Because of my background in the US, I tend to see it more readily when I'm in Finland. And sometimes it's quite painful. A beloved uncle of mine is a complete bigot, and it's hard to have to see something like that.

There really isn't enough discussion on the matter, and hiding behind the "just criticising Israel" angle, or the "what about the Palestinians" ploy just makes it all the more difficult.

9:35 AM  
Anonymous TA said...

"There really isn't enough discussion on the matter, and hiding behind the "just criticising Israel" angle, or the "what about the Palestinians" ploy just makes it all the more difficult."

You do exactly the same - you hide behind the "you're antisemitic!" line to avoid debating the policies of the Israeli govt. that so many people see as unjust or wrong-headed, such as the land grab going on with the 10-mtr high concrete wall which we are meant to call a "fence", or bombing entire buildings to kill one person.

BTW one of my colleagues is from a prominent Finnish jewish family and says that she has never found Finland particularly anti-semitic, at least in her life time. The US remains the biggest centre of the holocaust denial industry. The US is no more perfect than Europe.

10:11 AM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

Both of the Finnish Jews and the Swedish Jew I talked to realized over time how anti-Semitic Finland is, once they had experienced life in a country (the US) that is not so anti-Semitic.

And there you go again, with your moral relativism: "what about Israel doing this, what about the US doing that". Try to rise above such facile thinking, and see that if the EU really was interested in being an international power, it should be able to do so without measuring itself against a US yardstick.

The first step would be to admit that there is a problem, and try to solve it, instead of pointing problems overseas and thinking "if they're doing it, so can we".

Remember, European welfare states pride themselves as being more educated and "civilized", compared to the US.

I just don't see the confidence that should accompany those traits. All I see is a retreat to nationalist bigotry.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous TA said...

I don't know if you don't get it, or you are just pretending not to get it? My point is that there are concrete policies (building a wall not along the Green line; using bombs in an area as crowded as Gaza in a "targeted killing"; destroying a farmer's olives groves because terrorists fired rockets from them etc.) that the Israeli government has chosen to follow which I find morally wrong for their impact on Palestinian civilians, as well as thinking that they are politically silly as they will not help ensure the security of the Israeli population. Where is the moral relativism in that?

It seems you would prefer to call me anti-semitic (because I'm European, and all European are prejudiced) rather than admitting that it would be possible to hold moral objections to the policies that I outlined above. It seems to me that your moral position is that: it's ok for Israel not to live up to moral norms that define a democratic (civilised?) society, because they have nasty neighbours. And if that's not relativism, I don't know what is.

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Antti said...

TA, tide is turning...

2:51 PM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

I don't want to wade into Israeli politics, as this blog is about Finnish politics. What I find noxious about Finnish politics is that it exercizes moral relativism to a besieged state like Israel. Finland did a lot of horrible things during WW2, yet most of those can be justified simply because they faced an implacable enemy that refused compromise and tried to impose a violent solution. Israel is pretty much in the same situation and, being a functioning democracy, deserves more support from other democracies. So if that's not happening, there has to be another reason for it: anti-Semitism.

It's really useless to argue about Israel at length, since the arguments and the battle trenches have been dug so deeply, for so long. But it should be kept in mind that if such a little country elicits so much outrage, it must be because it serves as a smokescreen for something else.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous TA said...

This isn't really about the Middle East at all, its about people of a certain opinion, predominantly in the US, who say any criticism of Israel is based on anti-Jewish prejudice and nothing else. You seem to be unwilling to accept that I (and others) can disagree with current Israeli government policies with out being a racist. It's a way of hiding from, not taking part in, a debate.

If you think that the only basis for my criticism is that I'm anti-semitic, fine. Just be honest enough to say it.

If you want to keep it on Finnish politics and the lack of sympathy for "besieged nations": perhaps Finns have sympathy for those living in the West Bank and Gaza who are literally, and not metaphorically, besieged with a walls, closures, tanks and snipers? You only see the relativism against 'your team'.

Antti - I'm a bit confused: which tide?

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Antti said...

Truth will out, TA.

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Lil' antti,

Truth has been out for quite a time, in various forms to read, so take a pick: one , two.

Particulary, this phenomenon I see as a proof that Israel carries still very much the same medieval mental mindset with the other semitic brothas' that it fights. That is not up to Western European standards, no. But what is the most disgraceful thing, it that this ethnic entity (and it's friends) tries so much to look better than it actually is and uses pathetic accusations as excuses.

Will we ever see the change?

5:29 PM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

"If you think that the only basis for my criticism is that I'm anti-semitic, fine. Just be honest enough to say it."

Okay. The only basis for your criticism is that you're anti-Semitic.

5:56 PM  
Anonymous Antti said...

I don't even bother, anonymous.

12:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Antti, one wonders how cynical and disingenuous can you get?

3:03 PM  
Blogger Arawn said...

So is it completely impossible to criticize Israeli and not be anti-Semitic? Are those jewish citizens of Israeli, who also criticize it's policies, anti-Semitic too?

7:10 AM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

Of course it's possible to criticize Israel. But if European nation's have an ulterior motive behind that criticism, then their criticism becomes a reflection of that motive.

8:55 AM  
Blogger Arawn said...

But do they all have? Or does every European individual have that motive? So is it impossible for an European individual to criticize Israeli and not be anti-Semitic?

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This so called "anti-semitism" is mostly just a social construct to shield against all kinds of criticism against Israel.

People judge others by their behaviour. Israel could start, for a change, to try show a good example, as retreating from the occupied areas, with the military and settlers that harass the indigenous palestinians on a day to day basis (proof in my previous links).

You harvest what you sow.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

The number one question Europeans should ask is why pick Israel as the main issue to dwell on? The amount of attention given to the conflict is out of proportion to all the other conflicts brewing the world over.

The answer is that the conflict serves certain European political purposes. That has been well-noted by the Arab world, who become even more strident in using the conflict as a political tool, in tandem with Europe.

Ilka Schröder's main insight, - that bashing Israel is Europe's way of bashing the US, too - gives a new clarity to what is even a bigger operative behind Europe's obsession, - bigger than anti-Semitism.

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Jussi said...

Finns are anti-semitic and anti-American? Anti-violence would be more like it - it covers Finns' attitudes perfectly.

As for being "duplicitous", please explain.

7:17 AM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

This is duplicitous:

"For in the end, finlandization is about being two-faced. It was not a case of Finland saying one thing, and meaning the other. What it really amounted to was Finland saying one thing, and meaning it, but then thinking the other thing, only in Finnish. Thus facts are always brought forward to explain a policy position and a stance in a way that displays a certain reasonable logic. But underneath there is always a certain seething contempt.

And that is what the Finnish government’s position in this Israeli sale ban reflects. It is a position straight out of the how-to guidebook on finlandization. Finland is profoundly anti-Semitic, and anti-Israel, - you can hear it all the time, if you understand the language. Yet it gets artfully hidden, especially when Finns explain themselves in another language."

As for Finns being anti-violence, there's another word for it: cowardice.

9:59 AM  
Anonymous jussi said...

That's an exceptionally weak answer, Finnpundit, and you haven't explained how the government says one thing and means another.

Your obsession with "anti-semiticism" is incomprehensible, because in Finland we don't know what it is. There are very few jews in Finland, probably fewer than 1.800, so it's practically impossible to meet one, let alone dislike him.

As for "cowardice", you are contradicted by Churchill. And by me.

2:53 AM  

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