Heading for the Finnish line
In tranquil Finland, one can sense the extent to which Israeli policy is out of touch with the world.
I returned from Finland feeling happy. I learned there that Israel patronizes every country in the world, including Finland, while it shows rank disdain for international law. For its part, the world keeps quiet as though everything was dictated from on high. Thus I was filled with pride for the minuscule Palestinian nation, which stands up against a state that contemptuously ignores the whole world.
A film directed by Gideon Gitai, "Um-Shmum - Seven Hours to Death," was screened as part of a documentary film festival held in Helsinki. The film deals with the killing of four UNTSO (United Nations Truce Supervision Organization ) soldiers, including a Finnish officer, during the Second Lebanon War. The four died at the end of July, 2006, as the result of Israel Air Force bombing. Finland's Foreign Minister, Erkki Tuomioja, told me about his disappointment with the Israeli film, saying Israeli explanations about the bombing being an accident because of old maps lacked credibility. When I asked whether the Finnish government would take legal or diplomatic steps to force Israel to investigate the incident seriously, he had nothing to say other than that the issue is the UN's responsibility. And in Israel, as everyone knows, the UN counts for nothing (as the Hebrew expression, "UM-Shmum," suggests ).
This isn't only about Finland. China, the vast superpower, is keeping mum about the killing of one of its soldiers in the UNTSO incident. Gitai's film addresses dozens of resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council against Israel, more than the number of resolutions passed against other UN members taken together. Paradoxically, the most vituperative polemic articulated against Israel in the film comes from the mouths of Israelis. Minister Avigdor Lieberman sounds naive about the whole matter. His viewpoint can be understood. What's all the fuss about, since in the end we're only talking about four soldiers? Philosopher Prof. Asa Kasher justifies the use of aerial bombs, and a top IDF official explains that the Geneva Convention has no relevance in South Lebanon. With such explicators of Israeli policy, who needs anti-Semites?
We can also similarly rely on the voice of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who once said: "Whoever wants total quiet can go to Finland." In tranquil Finland, one can sense the extent to which Israeli policy is out of touch with the world. Yet with the rise of turbulence in Israel, I have started to sense that we Arab citizens are liable one day to remain alone with all the Liebermans, after all the justice-seekers among our Jewish friends leave the country with Barak's assistance. Under this scenario, we will be left with the true salt of the earth, members of the Yisrael Beiteinu party.
Thinking things through, I couldn't avoid connecting Barak's advice about finding calm in Finland to a statement of desire once expressed by attorney Dov Weisglass, about how it would be best if the Palestinians were to turn into Finns. Since that isn't going to happen soon, Israel is finding ways to rid themselves of Palestinian problems by turning the Finns into enemies. Here are the m echanics of the conspiracy: Palestinians can go to Finland to have a rest, and then the day will come when the Finns are declared to be enemies. Yet it is doubtful that the Finns want antagonistic relations with Israelis. The Palestinian experience teaches them that they will not only be expelled from their houses, but will also be accused of carrying the stain of anti-Semitism.
Incidentally, it could be that this turn to Finland stems from Barak's habit of putting himself in other people's shoes, particularly in those of extremists. As he once said, as a young Palestinian he would have chosen to belong to a terror group, and as an Iranian leader he would aspire to the nuclear bomb. Is it any wonder that with such nightmare scenarios in mind, he dreams about Lapland? In Finland there are several important things, beyond tranquillity. Among other things, one can learn in Finland about how a small minority, Swedes, is treated with respect. So to cultivate respect for the other, Finland ought to be brought here.
Meantime one can look into the cost of a one-way ticket to Helsinki.