When Scum Calls You Scum, I Guess It’s a Compliment

Finish Amnesty International head, Frank Johansson, who referred to Israel as a “scum state” in a blog post –  then defiantly stood behind it before surreptitiously removing it – has explained why he took it down.

frank johansson

"When I said you're scum, I did not mean it in a bad way. Some of my best friends are scum."

In an e-mail to the Post on Wednesday, Johansson wrote, “I decided to take down my blog because I appreciate that my comments were ill-judged and appear all the more so when taken out of context, and have obviously caused offence to many people although it was not my intention, at all, to cause such offence.”

He added “I am especially conscious, and regret that my ill-judged action may be detrimental to Amnesty International’s work on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the valiant human rights work being undertaken by my colleagues working for Amnesty International in Israel.”

Amnesty spokeswoman Susanna Flood said, “Johansson remains as the director of Amnesty International in Finland.

“Obviously, we regret it if such a term was used by an individual whose personal views could be misunderstood as reflecting those of Amnesty International, and we disassociate Amnesty International fully and clearly from such comments and we are making this clear to Mr Johansson,” Flood told the Post. “Amnesty International has never described Israel as a ‘scum state’ or used any such terms to describe Israel,” she added.

Finnish media watchdog site, Tundra Tabloids, which exposed the blog on Monday, said that the post’s removal was “not good enough, there needs to be a full apology coming from AI chairman Frank Johansson.”

Notice what’s missing – an apology. He does not actually regret his comments, only that he got caught.

As for being taken out of context, here’s a reminder of what he said:

“A friend of mine who works in Israel, was visiting while piling wood in the shed, we got into his favourite topic. Several years of  residence in the holy country, he has come to the conclusion that “Israel is a scum state”. On the basis of my own visit, which occurred during the 1970s and 1990s for the final time, I agree.”

I wonder how that can possibly be construed in a non-offensive way.

Here’s hoping he gets Garlascoed.


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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