by Abraham Cooper and Manfred Gerstenfeld*
A just-released report highlights the threats to Europe and the world from foreign ISIS fighters to their native countries in the wake of the collapse of the so-called Caliphate in Iraq and Syria. The European Jewish communities and their institutions, already reeling from earlier terrorist attacks--some of which involved returning jihadists-- now have a new source of potential violence to worry about.
One would think that Western European nations would focus all of their attention on the threats from Muslim terrorists and the elusive goal of inculcating the large numbers of migrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East -- part of whom are extreme anti-Semites -- with the values of democracy and tolerance.
Think again. Like many other Western European countries, the Dutch are fixated on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This obsession came to the fore again in the soon to be installed new government, which took over 200 days to form after the 2017 parliamentary elections.
The new government will consist of four parties: The country’s largest party, the VVD (liberals) led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte who will head the Government for the third time. The coalition partners are the CDA (Christian Democrats,) the D66 (left liberals) and the much smaller protestant Christian Union. The new government has the support of only 76 parliamentarians out of 150.
While the Government Agreement contains seventy pages, Foreign Affairs take up only one page. Key European Union issues such as Brexit and the Catalonia conflict are absent. Nothing is mentioned about a nuclearized North Korea, nor about the problems with the nuclear agreement with Iran. Indeed, a parliamentary delegation already traveled to Tehran legitimizing this extreme Muslim dictatorship which openly seeks Israel’s destruction. Nothing about the Dutch military involvement in Afghanistan or its presence in Mali. In the latter, Dutch military deaths caused by negligence led to the recent resignation of the Dutch Minister of Defense.
The one issue outside Europe so important for the new Dutch government that it overshadow all others? The Palestinian-Israeli conflict merits 60 words in the new Government agreement. It says: “In the Middle East, the Netherlands contributes to peace and safety. Netherlands uses the good relations with Israel and the Palestinian Authority for the maintenance and realization of the two state solution: an independent democratic and viable Palestinian State, next to a safe and international recognized Israel. The Netherlands also works for the improvement of relations between Israelis and the Palestinians.”
In reality, The Netherlands is a country of miniscule relevance for the entire Middle East. It’s assertion that it plays an important and balanced role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict reflects both absurdity and arrogance. The Netherlands has acted on many issues against Israeli interests. It makes payments to the Palestinian Authority knowing full well that it encourages and support murderers. The Dutch government also subsidizes Dutch institutional supporters of the anti-Semitic BDS campaign.
Outgoing Foreign Minister, Bert Koenders, belongs to the Labour party, which incites against Israel. He firmly backed labeling products from the disputed West Bank and the 'occupied' Golan by the European Union. Yet Koenders never demanded similar measures against other countries where the legal situation is much clearer. For example, Turkish- occupied Northern Cyprus. This is a typical anti-Israeli mutation of the classic anti-Semitic double standard.
In 2013, the Dutch Government’s Advisory Body (AIV), published a 47-page advisory opinion on the Middle East peace process. Former Freedom Party parliamentarian, Wim Kortenoeven, described it as: “Nothing but a vicious indictment of the Jewish State; ignoring the Islamic root of the conflict; omitting crucial historical data; denying or omitting the legal rights of the Jewish people in Palestine; and manipulating facts, figures and UN resolutions.”
“It is silent on Israel’s terrible dilemmas, predicaments and territorial constraints, and it even ignores such essentials as the Islamic threat and Palestinian incitement against Israel and peace. In its conclusion, the AIV calls for the imposition of sanctions against Israel and for establishing (Dutch and EU) relations with Hamas, an organization that calls for the genocide of all Jews.” Protests from the Simon Wiesenthal Center calling for disbandment of these inciting advisers, fell on deaf ears.
The four Dutch coalition parties should have put in their agreement a commitment to investigate why a 2011 opinion poll found that 38% of the Dutch population agreed with the false and extreme anti-Semitic statement that Israel conducts a war of extermination against the Palestinians. While few people directly promote such claims, they result from the general pervasive atmosphere in the Netherlands of rabble rousing anti-Israeli parties. One of these is coalition partner, D66. The hatred against Israel comes also out of media, social media, and government subsidized pseudo-human rights organizations.
It’s time to stop pounding Israel. It’s well overdue for Dutch authorities to start some serious self-searching on the above mentioned contemporary issues and unanswered historical controversies. The Netherlands is the only Western European country which has never admitted the outrageous misbehavior of its wartime government-in-exile in London -- toward its Jewish population. Instead of obsessing on the Jewish state alleged misdeeds, the Dutch government would better serve its people by finally properly investigating charges of massive Dutch war crimes in Indonesia in 1948 and 1949.
*Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is Emeritus Chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Policy and recipient of the International Leadership Award by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.