Geert Wilders gains support among Dutch Jews

Days before Dutch election, anti-immigration faction in virtual deadlock with ruling party, gains support of many in Jewish community.

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Wilders in Tel Aviv
Wilders in Tel Aviv
Yoni Kempinski

JTA - The party of Geert Wilders, a Dutch nationalist lawmaker, is the third-most popular choice among local Jews ahead of next week’s election, according to a pre-elections poll of community members.

With 814 respondents, the poll, whose results the Nieuw Israelietisch Weekblad Jewish weekly published Thursday ahead of the March 15 general elections, comprised nearly 2 percent of the Jewish population of the Netherlands. It is one of the most comprehensive polls conducted in recent years among members of that community, which is widely believed to be left-leaning.

Despite the Dutch Jewish community’s perceived partisan leanings, Wilders’ right-wing populist Party for Freedom has the vote of an estimated 10% of the Jewish population. The party enjoys a 15% approval rate in the general population, according to other polls, and is in a neck and neck race for the lead with the ruling, center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy.

Among Dutch Jews polled, the ruling party was the most popular with 17 percent, followed by the center-left Labor Party, which received 11 percent of the vote among those polled.

The deeply conservative Reformed Political Party and the more liberal conservative Christian Union received together another 17 percent of the Jewish vote – a vastly higher proportion than their support in the general population that likely owes to the stridently pro-Israel and pro-Jewish policies of both parties.

The Socialist Party, which is distrusted by many Dutch Jews for its support for anti-Israel causes, received 1.2 percent of the vote. NIW conducted the survey with help from the Crescas Jewish cultural group and other organizations.

Overall, right-wing and center-right parties garnered 55 percent of the vote in the poll.

Approximately 75 percent of the Jews polled in the survey said they viewed “Muslim values as a threat to Europe.” The same proportion of those polled said Muslim culture is more violent than others. But approximately 40 percent of respondents also said Islam belongs in Europe, whereas another 40 percent said it does not.

Wilders, who in his youth lived for two years on an Israeli moshav in the Jordan Valley, has called Israel “a place where I feel home” and said it was “close to his heart.” He has also called Israel a “canary in the coalmine” and “the West’s first line of defense against Islam,” including to his many visits to the Jewish state. He has repeatedly said he was arguing for “Judeo-Christian values,” which he said are threatened by Islam in the Netherlands and elsewhere.








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