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 Palestinians.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 Tabloids.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 decision.“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.