In a recent blog post, the incumbent foreign minister of Finland, Erkki Tuomioja wrote that “Netanyahu’s government took another provocative step by approving the building of 4000 new housing units in East Jerusalem.” Tuomioja concluded his post by stating that the union’s foreign policy must be uniform and the member states should contemplate “a readiness to influence Israel’s actions through other means if the building of illegal settlements continues.”

Tuomioja’s veiled threat should be seen in the light of his past comments regarding Israel. In October 2010, before his current tenure, Tuomioja signed an ICAHD petition in which 153 signatories declared their opposition to arms trade between Finland and Israel. Considering that the arms trade between Finland and Israel is significant, ending it would have a major impact on the bilateral trade relationship between the two countries.

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ICAHD is an organization with close links to Norman Finkelstein. Finkelsten gained notoriety by praising Hezbollah and comparing Israelis to Nazis.

Tuomioja has also linked Israel with Nazis. In a famous interview in 2001, Tuomioja compared Israeli defensive actions to the Nazi persecution of European Jewry. This led many in Israel to demand that the then Israeli ambassador to Finland be recalled.

In 2006, during the war between Hezbollah and Israel, Tuomioja put into question the notion that Israel’s bombing of UN observation post which killed four UN observers, including one Finn, was accidental.

In 2009 Tuomioja once again doubted Israel’s sincerity regarding a bombing in Gaza which led to the destruction of the clinic operated by Finnish church aid organization, Kirkon Ulkomaanapu. In the aftermath of the 2010 Israel raid on the Turkish flotilla, Tuomioja stated that “trade and other ties with Israel should be linked to Israel''s regard for international law and commitment to the peace process.”

One has to keep in mind that the Finnish foreign ministry is hardly representative of the Finnish public opinion. The parliaments 200 representatives are elected directly by secret ballot on the basis of proportional representation. Tuomioja’s party the Social Democratic Party of Finland gained 21 percent of the vote and only 9970 Finns voted directly for Tuomioja.  

In a Finnish parliamentary system, divisive and controversial politicians are well positioned to have enormous impact on the country’s policies. In Tuomioja’s case, he is able to continue where he left off, namely to continue a policy of antagonism toward Israel.


dennis.mitzner@gmail.com




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