Op-Ed: A Pro-Jewish Ad and the Mess it Caused
Dr. Manfred GerstenfeldThe writer has been a long-term adviser on strategy issues to the boards...
Due to the present outburst of anti-Semitism in Europe, Jewish organizations are wondering what they can do against such massive public hatred.
To this end, various projects are suggested. One project that was developed in the Netherlands illustrates how necessary it is for any idea to be thought through to the end.
CIDI is the oldest Dutch defense organization of Israel and of the Jewish community. It placed an advertisement – a full back page, signed by 86 leading politicians and celebrities – against Jew hatred in the Netherlands’ largest daily, De Telegraaf. CIDI did not put its name on the advertisement but publicized that it had taken this initiative.
The leadership of CIDI is genuinely committed to the Jewish community, but unfortunately, it grossly mishandled the advertisement project. In order to get prominent Dutch personalities to show solidarity with Dutch Jewry, the text could have been quite simple: it should have said that there is no excuse for hatred of Jews.
That should have been followed by indicating that political developments elsewhere in the world have led to insults and threats against Dutch Jews, and that some demonstrators have called for death to the Jews. The ad should also have stated that these expressions of hatred should cease, and that everyone in the Netherlands should be able to live safely and peacefully, which should be true for Dutch Jews as well.
Thereafter, the signatories should have called on the Dutch population not to tolerate anti-Semitism in any form, or under any circumstances: “We all say no to Jew-hatred.”
That is how it should have been. Indeed, all the remarks above do appear in the advertisement, more or less. Unfortunately, there is additional text which is highly problematic. The organizers introduced Israel in a couple of sentences interspersed throughout the advertisement, which makes the tone and context of its message into something rather ugly.
The ad starts with a fallacy: “The battle between Israel and Hamas is increasingly being fought out in the Netherlands.” If one wants to include this concept, the text should have read: “The battle between Israel and Hamas has led to insults, threats, harassment and incitement to genocide against Jews in the Netherlands, mainly by Dutch Muslims”.
Thereafter the advertisement mentions the various threats to Israel that originate in the Netherlands. If CIDI, supposedly a pro-Israel defense organization, raised this issue, it should have also included a condemnation of the extreme anti-Semitic character of some of these threats.
The advertisement then says that Dutch Jews have the right to live safely in the Netherlands, “independently of what happens in Israel”. It implies that in Israel terrible things happen without good reason. Once having said that, it is a huge omission not to mention Hamas and other Islamo-Nazis in the Middle East, let alone the enormous ideological and otherwise criminal waves coming from parts of the Muslim world.
As if all this isn’t bad enough, the advertisement continues with, “This is not a solidarity declaration with the Israeli government.” CIDI has much explaining to do about what this explicit remark is doing in a text about anti-Semitism against Dutch Jews.
The advertisement ends with: “We signatories disagree about that. We do agree about one thing: Criticism of Israel OK, Hatred of Jews? NO.” Indeed, why should criticism of Israel not be OK? Almost all Israelis are critical of various matters regarding Israel and there is nothing wrong with it – but stating the obvious in this way gives the ad an additional obnoxious twist.
...the advertisement should have introduced the revolting behavior of parts of the global Muslim population and of their Dutch supporters.
One wonders whether any of the signatories would have refused to sign the advertisement had it not mentioned Israel. If so, CIDI should have been happy not to have included them and should have asked for an explanation.
The mention of Israel, and the manner in which it was done, has a clear undertone of giving the signatories the chance to distance themselves from Israel should they choose to do so. This the more so as there is no mention of the recent genocidal statements against Jews by the leaders of the Islamo-Nazi movement, Hamas. There is also no mention of the various anti-Israeli demonstrations, whose Dutch participants are, directly or indirectly, supporters of Hamas, some also supporting the Islamo-Nazis of IS, the most evil Muslim movement seen so far.
The CIDI management is aware that much of what is currently happening in the Netherlands is not criticism of Israel, but rather its demonization. Having already mistakenly distanced itself from Israel, the advertisement should have introduced the revolting behavior of parts of the global Muslim population and of their Dutch supporters.
With such a message, it is not surprising that most leaders of various Dutch political parties signed the advertisement, even those of the Green Left and Socialist parties, who co-organize some of the demonstrations which always indirectly support the Islamo-Nazis of Hamas. Now these political leaders could whitewash themselves and their agendas by signing the ad, and at the same time claim that it implied criticism of Israel.
There have been some calls for a similar advertisement to condemn Islamophobia. Were such an initiative to materialize the politicians who signed the CIDI initiated advertisement would have difficulty refusing to sign it. Islamophobia has been falsely equaled with anti-Semitism in The Netherlands and elsewhere.
Geert Wilders, the leader of the populist Freedom party PVV is not found among the signatories. CIDI had asked him to sign and he had immediately agreed to do so. His name, however, was deleted. CIDI justified this by stating that Wilders had written a letter to Dutch Prime Minister Rutte linking current anti-Semitism to Islam in general.
CIDI said that Wilders had introduced the Middle East conflict into the debate and that was not what the signatories wanted. If CIDI’s arguments were the true reason for the exclusion of Wilders, past anti-Israeli statements of some Dutch leftist leaders should have been sufficient reason to have them omitted. Furthermore and ridiculously enough, CIDI had introduced the Middle-East issue itself by its unnecessary mention of Israel in the advertisement.
As to be expected, Wilders hit back hard against CIDI and its leadership, saying that the organization and its director did not represent Dutch Jews.
Wilders’ absence from the ad was used by Alexander Pechtold, the leader of the D66 liberal democrats, as an excuse not to sign it. In his statement explaining why he had abstained, Pechtold claimed that that not only should anti-Semitism, but all forms of discrimination, be condemned  A more probable reason for Pechtold’s behavior is the fact that, for the first time in history some current polls indicate that D66 might become the largest party in parliament. Getting more Muslim votes would be quite helpful.
Louis Bontes, the leader of one of the smaller parties, For the Netherlands, also did not appear on the list of signatories. This party’s record is almost impeccable concerning pro-Israel and pro-Jewish activism in the Dutch parliament. It is inconceivable that Bontes would have refused to sign, had he been asked to do so. Had he not been asked? That would have been yet another major blunder on the part of CIDI. Had he signed but had his name been excluded? That would be outright scandalous.
All of the above serve to show that however good intentions might be, if they are poorly executed, they will backfire in many ways.
In the meantime, the last doubt that the anti-Israel demonstrations are pro-Hamas demonstrations has been taken away. In Utrecht, a Euro-parliamentarian of the Green Left Party, criticized Hamas. Before she could even criticize Israel, she was already shouted down.
 For text see: http://forum.fok.nl/topic/2136206;