Dutch senator apologizes for comment on Jews and gas chambers

Dutch senator who said Jews “went like lambs to the gas chambers” during the Holocaust apologizes.

Ben Ariel and JTA ,


A Dutch senator who said Jews “went like lambs to the gas chambers” during the Holocaust has apologized, but a more senior senator from his party regretted the apology, JTA reported on Thursday.

Paul Cliteur, the head of the Forum for Democracy right-wing faction in the Senate, told the Telegraaf daily on Wednesday that there was nothing wrong with the statements referencing lambs by his colleague Toine Beukering.

Beukering had told the same paper that his remark was “very awkward. I also regret it and I take it back.”

Cliteur, though, told the Telegraaf, “Considering the context, I understand what he meant. I saw no biased remarks about Jews in what he said. Pity people are trying to interpret it that way. To me, he shouldn’t have taken back what he said.”

Recalling his long years of service in the armed forces, Beukering said in the interview that landed him in trouble that the Holocaust was one of the reasons he enlisted.

“As a young child, I read a whole cabinet of books about the Holocaust,” Beukering told Telegraaf in the interview, which was published Saturday.

“I was always interested in finding out how it was at all possible. That the Jews, such a courageous and combative people, were driven to the gas chambers just like meek little lambs. It has always fascinated me. I never really found an answer for it. But to me it did mean one thing: Never again. That’s why I wore a uniform for 40 years and have been all over the world,” he added.

Following the controversial comments, Ronny Naftaniel, vice chairman of the Central Jewish Organization of Dutch Jews, set out to correct Beukering.

“Jews did mount considerable resistance. Often in hopeless situations. ‘Meek lambs’ is a myth,” Naftaniel wrote on Facebook.

The Netherlands saw a major increase in recorded anti-Semitic incidents last year, in which a record 230 cases were recorded.

In March, vandals suspected of being soccer hooligans from The Hague painted graffiti, including swastikas and anti-Semitic texts, on buildings in Amsterdam.

Last summer, Dutch police apprehended a man whom they accused of drawing swastikas on the external wall of the capital’s oldest Jewish cemetery.

In January of 2018, police launched an investigation into vandalism at a synagogue and a hospice for people dying of terminal diseases.