Holocaust research riles Finns Party MPs; as president announces Israel visit

Niinistö will visit Tel Aviv and Jerusalem later this month, while a leading academic is under fire from Finns Party politicians over his Holocaust research.

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File picture of Adjunct Professor Oula Silvennoinen / Credit: Silvennoinen

President Sauli Niinistö has announced an upcoming visit to Israel, where he’ll attend the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem.

The president will travel to the Middle East from 21st to 24th January and have bilateral meetings with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, and also visit Tel Aviv to celebrate 75 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The World Holocaust Forum brings together almost 40 Heads of State and Government which commemorates the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp by allied forces during World War II.

Previous World Holocaust Forum events were held in Poland, Ukraine and Czech Republic.

Holocaust research becomes politicised

The announcement of the president’s upcoming Israel visit comes as a Finnish academic is under fire from Finns Party politicians after receiving a grant to study the Holocaust.

Historian, researcher and Adjunct Proffesor Oula Silvennoinen received more than €434,000 from the Finnish Academy during 2017 to work on a Holocaust project at the University of Helsinki.

A number of Finns Party MPs recently criticised the funding, with Ville Tavio writing on Twitter for example “there are agitators in the universities who only use the system for their own political purposes and to produce propaganda.”

Silvennoinen who was a Green party candidate in the 2019 parliamentary election, and frequently criticises far right politicians, says in an online article that his research topics “regularly provoke hostile reactions.”

“The constant flow of insulting feedback shows that there is something that deserves closer examination […] the purpose of hate speech directed at researchers is to silence” he adds.

Silvennoinen has received support from the academic community for his stance against right wing critics.

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