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anti-semitism in finland today

Report by Dr. Karmela Bélinki, Ph.D., Helsinki, Finland 
 
Of the Nordic countries, Finland is surely the least affected by anti-Semitism right now. The country’s tiny Jewish community (about 1500 Jews in two cities, Helsinki and Turku) is very well integrated and accepted by the majority, although verbal and written threats have increased. In a recent Letter to the Editor in the leading daily in Swedish in Helsinki (the country is bilingual Finnish-Swedish) teachers of immigrants called for integrated and truthful teaching of anti-Semitism in the curriculum for immigrants. 
 
The article stated what the rest of the world has already realised that anti-Semitism has increased with Muslim immigrants and that is of two kinds, firstly hatred of Jews with an analogy to Israel with no distinction between citizens of Israel and Jews of other nationalities living in their respective countries, and secondly the usual traditional anti-Semitic clichés. The article did not expose it directly, but it was clearly understood that these immigrant groups are the main threat because they are rejecting the efforts to be integrated into Finnish society and fail to accept that Finland is a European democracy and that Jews are an indispensable and inalienable part of Europe.

There is naturally also what could be called the anti-Semitism of intellectuals particularly in the media, but it is not of violent nature in Finland, although sometimes intolerably abusive verbally.

The other group, which in Finland is not of any significant importance, is the extreme left with its denial of the right of the state of Israel to exist and with its by old Stalinist and later Soviet dogmas influenced arguments against Israel and the Jews. Neither the left nor the Muslim anti-Semites have tried to deny the Holocaust, strangely enough.

There have not as yet been any physical attempts against Jews or Jewish objects of any kind, but security measures have increased. Unheard of in Finland, Jewish children are the only group of students, who have police escort to school and who have to play behind armoured glass windows and iron walls. This fact has stirred up many Finns, well known for their tranquility and silence, to protest against the targeting of Jews. After the events in Paris in January Jews, involved in public affairs, received exclamations of sympathy from various often unexpected sources.

It is obvious from history as well as from the present that there is very little if any structural anti-Semitism in Finland. Jews are considered equal with other Finns and even admired for their way of life. Their acceptance was cemented with their service in the Finnish army throughout World War II against the Soviet Union, the threat from the east, which is again reminding the world of its existence, to the dismay of the Finnish people.