Despite an unprecendented public outcry, Finland’s Ministry of Defense is set to go ahead with a controversial collaboration with Israeli arms companies deeply involved in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land. Finland is turning to Israel for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) — commonly known as a “drones” — in a deal with more than 17 million euros.
On 10 October last year, the main Finnish daily and the largest subscription newspaper in the Nordic countries Helsingin Sanomat published in its Sunday edition a full page article titled “Israel, Our Brother-in-arms” (“Aseveljemme Israel“ [PDF]).
With the newspaper’s one million-strong Sunday circulation, the Helsingin Sanomat article was the most prominent of the many reports dealing with Finland’s arms trade with Israel. Among the factors giving impetus to the article was a petition of more than a hundred Finnish dignitaries from the arts, sciences and politics calling for the immediate discontinuation of Finnish-Israeli arms trade and military technology cooperation in all forms (“Vetoomus Suomen ja Israelin asekaupan lakkauttamiseksi,” via ICAHD Finland).
During the months that followed, the number of signatories grew from 100 to more than 250. Among those insisting on a cessation of all forms of military cooperation with Israel are Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, world-renowned expert on international law Martti Koskenniemi and the most distinguished Finnish filmmaker of all time, Aki Kaurismäki. They were joined by more than forty professors, a number of Finlandia Prize winners, Finnish MEPs and MPs, stage and film directors, actors, writers and scholars. The petition encompasses an impressive and exhaustive array of the who’s who in Finnish arts, sciences and politics.
Moreover, earlier this month, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) issued a call for “an immediate and comprehensive military embargo on Israel” similar to the one that had been imposed on apartheid South Africa. The call, which marked the seventh anniversary of the still unenforced International Court of Justice decision declaring Israel’s wall in the West Bank illegal, was endorsed by Nobel Peace Prize winners Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire, Betty Williams and Adolfo Perez Esquivel.
Source and full story: Electronic Intifada, 20 July 2011