Simon Weisenthal Center Appeals to Dutch PM Over Anti-Semitism
The Simon Wiesenthal Center sent a strongly-worded letter to Dutch Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Frans Asscher Tuesday addressing a major degradation of the attitude in the Netherlands toward Jews and the State of Israel.
The specific issue the letter addresses is a statistic from the University of Bielefeld showing that 39% of Dutch citizens believe Israel is conducting a "war of extermination" against the Palestinian Arabs.
Asscher reportedly addressed the issue in the Dutch Parliament, saying the statistic was "worrisome" and "unacceptable." However, the Simon Wiesenthal Center calls out the Dutch official on not acting to prevent the phenomenon from spreading further.
"An important first step should be a government-ordered study to trace how such an utterly false and insidious image of Israel was created," Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Center, suggests. "The Simon Wiesenthal Center will gladly help you in defining the parameters for such a study."
Cooper stresses that the promulgators of the message, if found, should be brought to justice. "We know too well from the 1930s in Germany what can happen when the delegitimization and demonization of a people goes unchallenged," he warns.
"It has also been brought to my attention that the Netherlands has neither admitted the negligence of its World War II government and the collaboration of the bureaucracy with the German occupiers, nor offered any apologies," the letter continues. "I believe that the Netherlands is the only occupied country where this is the case."
Rabbi Cooper ends the letter with a promise to send the Dutch PM a copy of Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld's book Demonizing Israel and the Jews; in the interim, he attached statistics within it which show the full scope and severity of anti-Semitism in the Netherlands.
This is the third letter the Simon Wiesenthal Center has sent to the Netherlands over the issue of anti-Semitic activity there; the past two were to Prime Minister Mark Rutte. One of those letters came as a response to a shocking video exposing virulently anti-Semitic attitudes among Turkish Muslim immigrants to the country. Muslim immigrants are believed to be responsible for the majority of anti-Semitic attacks in Holland.
In December, Dutch water supplier Vitens ended a partnership with Israeli water company Mekorot due to the "political context." The decision came days after a visit to the Mekorot offices in Israel by Dutch trade minister Lilianne Ploumen was abruptly cancelled.
The visit was part of a larger tour of Israel by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte that was marred by a dispute over a Dutch-made security scanner intended to check goods leaving Gaza for Judea and Samaria.
Rutte was to have inaugurated the scanner on the Islamist-controlled territory's border with Israel, but the ceremony was broken off after Israel said it did not want Gazan goods going to Judea and Samaria.
Deputy Foreign minister Zeev Elkin said he was "blindsided" by Vitens' pullout "and a few more European companies have made similar decisions in the past months, which have blindsided us exactly in parallel with the peace process."
Holland in particularly has contributed to that trend, after numerous economic boycotts and a report by a Dutch MP blaming Israel for the failure in talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).