The Day In Israel: Wednesday Aug 25th, 2010

Frank Johansson, Chairman of the Finnish Amnesty International, who called Israel a “scum state” (or, to be more exact, “nilkkimaa”) has backed down now that his comments have been exposed beyond his narrow Finnish readership.

Just kidding.

Frank JohanssonThe head of Amnesty International’s Finnish branch, Frank Johansson, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that he stands by his statement that Israel is a “scum state.”

Writing in his blog, which appears on the Web site of Finland’s third largest newspaper Iltalehti, Johansson wrote on Monday that “A friend of mine who works in Israel was visiting [and] while piling wood in the shed, we got to [talking about] his favourite topic. [After] several years of residence in the Holy Land, he has come to the conclusion that ‘Israel is a scum state.’ Based on my own visit[s], which occurred during the 1970s and for the last time in the 1990s, I agree.”

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Asked why he termed Israel a “scum state,” Johansson told the Post in a telephone interview that it was because Israel has “repeatedly flouted international law,” and due to his “personal experiences inside and outside of Israel with meeting Israelis.”

Johansson said that his remarks were not anti-Semitic. “I actually praise Breaking the Silence,” he said, referring to an Israeli organization claiming to collect and share testimonies of former IDF soldiers over human rights violations they allegedly witnessed, while rarely providing names of troops, dates and locations of these incidents.

Asked whether there are other countries aside from Israel that, according to him, meet the definition of a “scum state,” Johansson did not specify any, but noted that there are “Russian officials” who meet the criteria.

The Amnesty International official said: “I have been on record on Finnish TV as saying George Bush is the biggest executioner in the Western Hemisphere, [I] use strong language… I am writing those [blogs] in my capacity as a private person, not as an Amnesty official.”

However, Iltalehti’s Web site clearly provides readers with his title as “director of the Finnish branch of Amnesty International,” which appears above his blog.

NGO Monitor chief Gerald Steinberg condemned Johansson’s remarks in the context of his organization as a whole. The head of the watchdog organization, which tracks anti-Israel activity among NGOs, told the Post in an e-mail on Tuesday that “Amnesty International has promoted an intense anti-Israel ideology, resulting in statements like these. Such one-sided ideological campaigns, with false allegations of war crimes, are entirely inconsistent with Amnesty’s claim to support ethical principles and universal human rights.

“Amnesty International’s new secretary general, Salil Shetty, must immediately condemn this immoral statement by the head of the Finnish chapter, freeze links to the chapter until he resigns, and take measures to end Amnesty’s central role in demonizing Israel,” he added.

Also Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Amnesty International’s headquarters in London, Susanne Flood, told the Post in a telephone interview that “Amnesty would never use an expression like this toward the State of Israel, or any other state.”

Flood said that Johansson used the phrase “creep state” to describe Israel, rather than “scum,” as the initial English translation of the Finnish word found. Native Finnish speakers from Tundra Tabloids said the Finnish term used by Johansson to denigrate Israel is a “highly derogatory term,” and is frequently translated as “scum,” “scum bag” or “douche bag.”

Asked if AI plans to discipline or sack Johansson, Flood said she would have to check on his employment status, but noted that the organization generally does not comment on human resource matters.

Pressed if he is singling out Israel for disparate treatment – a manifestation of modern anti-Semitism according to some critics – Flood said that one “has to look at the full context of his articles.”

She added that Johansson assured her that he is not using his title to write the anti-Israeli blogs. But, when shown that his title was indeed being used in his blog, she conceded to this fact.

The deputy head of Mission for the Embassy of Finland in Israel, Anu Pulkkinen, told the Post on Tuesday that Johansson “is responsible for his own comments, and we are not commenting on blog writings of individual Finnish citizens.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

11:02PM: Return of the Zionist Death Cows.TM

A woman was lightly wounded and a few cars were damaged Wednesday when a cow went on a rampage at a shopping center in the northern Israeli city of Nesher.

Police said the cow, which eventually headed north towards Haifa’s Checkpost Junction, was part of a herd that was grazing near the “Big” shopping center. At some point, police said, the cows entered the area of the shopping center.

The cows were eventually cleared from the area, and their owner was questioned.

Witnesses said the cow rammed into a vehicle that tried to block its path.

Magen David Adom paramedic Kobi Ben-Haim said that during the incident, which went on for more than an hour, a woman sustained light injuries when the cow grazed her back.

So there you have it. The cow was merely getting revenge. What was the woman doing grazing the cow in the first place?

1:55PM: A look at Iran vs Israel weapon capabilities.

1:45PM: Israel’s Kadima party and opposition leader Tzipi Livni thinks to herself while listening to Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair at the ‘Delegitimization of Israel’ conference (photo credit: JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images).

Tony Blair Tzipi Livni

What the hell is wrong with his teeth?

1:40PM: Despite saying he stands behind “Israel is a scum state” comment, Frank Johansson is more standing in front of it.

Hiding it from view while he goes to town on it with a large eraser.

The article by Weinthal appears in today’s edition of the J’Lem Post, and surprise, the offending blog post by the AI chairman at the Iltalehti website has been scrubbed, thrown down the memory hole, but thanks to Vasarahammer we have the cached picture of the post. Interestingly enough, though the Amnesty International chairman (Finnish branch) is totally unrepentant, nonetheless the post has disappeared. A passive mea culpa?

11:54AM: Envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East Tony Blair,speaking as keynote speaker at the August 24 symposium entitled “The De-legitimization of Israel: Threats, Challenges and Responses.”

He needn’t look much further than his own sister-in-law.

6:10AM: Turkey has seen a 90% decline in Israeli tourism.

Meanwhile, in other bad-news-for-the-Turks, a fire has destroyed many negatives of the virulently anti-Israel Turkish TV show “Ambush in the Valley of the Wolves” spinoff movie “The Valley of the Wolves: Palestine.”

6:05AM: Hassan Nasrallah, comedian.

Hassan NasrallahNasrallah  urged the Lebanese government to draw conclusions from the current electricity crisis and follow in Iran’s footsteps and build a nuclear reactor to generate electricity like the reactor in Bushehr.

“The cost of building the Bushehr reactor was less than Lebanon’s investment in the electricity network. I call on the government to build a nuclear reactor to generate electricity, and then we can also sell energy to Syria, Cyprus, and other countries in the region,” he said.

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David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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