Day: March 13, 2009

Neighbourhood Watch – 2

Back in September last year I wrote a fairly lengthy post on this blog about thoughts that were prompted by Finnish president Tarja Halonen’s swipe at Estonia on Finnish television in the context of Europe’s reaction to the Russian-Georgian War. In the post I described some of my experiences in Finland during the 1980s and my conversations with Finnish intellectuals and literary figures, some of whom subsequently acquired official status in the Finnish government.

Rereading that post now, with its probably unrealistic view that Finland ought once and for all to declare its solidarity with Europe and the West as a whole on the matter of NATO defence, I’m impelled to the reflection that in many ways Finland does in fact share the responses and reflexes of European politics and politicians. In its reaction to the recent events in Gaza and the Middle East, for example, Finland seems to share in the generally negative assessment of Israel – there is not much sense in the public debates that Israel has a right to defend itself. And one of the people I mentioned in the original post, a former government minister, has now published a collection of autobiographical poetry which contains a fair portion of leftist “received wisdom” on issues like global warming, the war in Iraq, and the like, expressed with such ease and fluency that one guesses that in wide circles of Finnish public opinion such “wisdom” is a kind of oxygen, a supportive climate of orthodoxy that makes thinking about global issues possible at all. There is really nothing wrong with this, of course – except when one comes to the issue of the Middle East, of Israel, Hezbollah, and (ex post facto) Israel, Hamas and Gaza. And then the gloves are suddenly off, and one sees the “criticism of Israel” for what it really is. Stanza 23 of (black book 1) reads:

What is happening in the Middle East is drifting towards its final solution
The Wall is growing towards the sky that is filled with exploded human beings
Easter is coming along with its bloody lambs