HELSINKI (Apr. 3)
Members of parliament, the press and leaders of Finland’s tiny Jewish community have called on the government for a firm. negative response to Iraq’s recent demand for information to facilitate the blacklisting of Finnish companies doing business with israel. The demands were contained in a “strictly confidential” letter from the Iraqi Ambassador. Gen, Saleh Mehdi Amash, to Foreign Trade Minister Esko Rekola.
The letter, dated March 14, gave the government 10 days to respond, It cited seven firms which it said imported various products from Israel that are “also available from Iraq” and wanted to know if “there is a Zionist or Jew on your board of directors or in any subordinate managerial position” and whether the company deals with any Israeli company or has “links with a company doing business with Israel.” The letter also asked for details of the companies’ financial positions, the names of their stockholders, board members and managers of their subdivisions.
The letter was acknowledged by Rekola only after it was exposed in the local press last week. The Trade Minister said “I leave it up to our companies each to make its own reply.” He also made the point that Finland’s relations with Iraq are “very good” and professed to be uncertain whether the letter was an expression of Amash’s private views or a statement of the Baghdad government’s policy.
Ben Ziscovitch, a member of Kokoomus, the national coalition party opposition bloc in Parliament, called for a statement of clarification when Parliament reconvenes in two weeks. Leo Motzkin, president of the Jewish community of Helsinki, will head a delegation calling on Prime Minister Mauno Koivisto later this week to ask for a “clear, strong” stand by the government against the Iraqi demands.
Israel’s Ambassador to Finland, Rehavim Amir, reported this week that his office was “flooded” with telephone calls and messages from Finnish friends and others expressing their “outrage” over the “threat of a blacklist.” There are 1350 Jews in Finland out of a general population of 4.7 million. All but 350 Jews reside in Helsinki.