According to Yaron Nadbornik, president of the 1,100-strong Jewish Community of Helsinki, the Finnish authorities acknowledge that there is anti-Semitism and it is a problem.
“The authorities have recognized during 2018-2019 that there is an anti-Semitism problem in Finland,” he said. “Before it was [for them] pretty unclear if such a matter existed.”
According to Nadbornik, the shift in attitude happened due to the activities of neo-Nazi and far-right groups in Finland.
The head of the Jewish Community of Helsinki said that hate speech continues to be the fertile ground for anti-Semitism and racism in Finland.
“More efforts [by the authorities] should be taken to address hate speech,” he continued, “because it is from there where terrible things happen.”
Nadbornik complained in an interview in 2017 that the government of Prime Minsiter Juha Sipilä was not doing enough to clamp down on online hate speech.
“Anti-Semitism has become more systematic and organized [since 2017],” he said, adding the groups use different online platforms to spread their hatred.
Nadbornik agreed that politicians should show more leadership against hate speech and social ills like anti-Semitism and racism.
“Politicians do speak out against hate speech but a lot more could be done,” he said. “President [Sauli] Niinistö’s speech denouncing anti-Semitism [and condemning neo-Nazi groups] was important because it reaffirmed that there is a problem [in Finland and steps must be taken to eradicate it].”
Nadbornik said that the Synagogue of Helsinki was also vandalized several times in winter with paint and stickers.
“The coronavirus [pandemic] has fueled racism against the Chinese and Jews in Central Europe and the United States,” he concluded. “We haven’t seen this problem in Finland, and I hope I never will.”