BERLIN – Pertti Salolainen, Finland’s vice chairman of the Foreign Affairs
Committee, asserted on the state television program YLE Aamu TV on Thursday that
American Jews hold vast control over the wealth and media in the United States
and that impedes the US government from remaining neutral toward the
Salolainen’s remarks sparked sharp criticism from the Simon
Wiesenthal Center, an international human rights group with its headquarters in
Los Angeles, and the Finnish media watchdog website Tundra
While discussing the UN General Assembly vote to upgrade the
Palestinian delegation to non-member observer state status, Salolainen said,
“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.”
Finland’s government voted in favor of the
Palestinians’ status upgrade.
Mark Weitzman, from the Wiesenthal Center,
wrote to Ritva Koukku- Ronde, the Finnish ambassador to the US, condemning the
“That such remarks can come from a pillar of the political
elite in Finland is dismaying and astonishing; but that this remark was
unchallenged makes it appear that such ideas are part of acceptable discourse in
Finland,” he wrote.
Weitzman continued that Finland joined the
International Task Force for Holocaust Education, Research and Remembrance and
“at this point, Finland must immediately act to show that it remains committed
to these ideals,” by officially condemning and repudiating Salolainen’s remarks.
He called on the Finnish government to take steps to remove the parliamentarian
from any official position.
The pro-Israel Helsinki-based website Tundra
Tabloids posted a translation of Salolainen’s comments and the television clip
with a translation.
Tundra Tabloids termed Salolainen “a part-time
anti-Semite” and said he propagated a modern version of the 19th century
anti-Semitic document Protocols of the Elders of Zion with his diatribe of
Jew-hatred and conspiracy theories.
When asked in early November by The
Jerusalem Post if statements from Hezbollah calling for the murder of Jews and
Israelis and praise for Holocaust denial are anti-Semitic, Pekka Marttila, from
the Finnish Foreign Ministry, refused to answer.
Frank Johansson, the
head of Finland’s Amnesty International office, caused an anti-Semitism scandal
in 2010 when he labeled Israel a “scum state” on the website of Finland’s third
largest newspaper Iltalehti. In an interview with the Post, Johansson defended
the term, saying he would only apply it to the Jewish state and some Russian
officials. He retained his job with the human rights organization.