In a letter to Salil Shetty, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, the Zionist Federation has responded to the derogatory remarks by the head of Amnesty Finland, who described Israel as a "scum state". The full text of the letter is as follows:
To: Salil Shetty, Secretary General, Amnesty International
25th August 2010
Dear Mr Shetty,
I am writing on behalf of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland to express our outrage at the comments of Frank Johansson, the head of Amnesty Finland, who branded Israel a “scum state,” as reported in the Jerusalem Post.
Writing in his blog, Johansson wrote on Monday that “a friend of mine who works in Israel was visiting [and] while piling wood in the shed, we got to [talking about] his favourite topic. [After] several years of residence in the Holy Land, he has come to the conclusion that ‘Israel is a scum state.’ Based on my own visit[s], which occurred during the 1970s and for the last time in the 1990s, I agree.”
The precise phrase that he used is apparently a highly derogatory term in Finnish, and is frequently translated as “scum,” “scum bag” or “douche bag.” The blog clearly provides readers with Johansson’s title, “director of the Finnish branch of Amnesty International”, thus associating his deplorable comments with Amnesty. For him to claim that this is a personal view is not acceptable. It is no less appalling whether he said it in his official capacity or otherwise. That Amnesty is represented by someone with such a view is disgraceful.
Quite apart from openly displaying prejudice against the world’s only Jewish state, Johansson’s statement is at odds with the facts. Newsweek this week rated Israel the 22nd best country in the world, and the best in the Middle East. A recently released Gallup poll published in Forbes magazine contended that Israel is the world's eighth happiest country.
We call on you to condemn Johansson’s statement, and to freeze links to Amnesty Finland until Johansson resigns. We further call on you to end all of Amnesty’s actions in demonising Israel.
Director of Public Affairs
Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland