Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
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Almost 30 years since the death of the great Joop den Uyl

October 12, a new record to form a Dutch government has been posted by current negotiations. In length, it overtakes a fake formation attempt to create a Second Cabinet Den Uyl (see below). The new Government Rutte III is expected in another week, now a coalition agreement for its one-seat majority (76 out of 150 seats) has been reached.

December 24, 2017, it will be 30 years since the passing of the amazing Dutch Socialist politician Joop den Uyl. Here a few words about this remarkable man, in his honor and for our admonition and edification.


His prime-ministership (1973-77) knew much upheaval and turmoil (the oil crisis, terrorist attacks by Moluccans, the Lockheed affair (bribes for the Queen’s husband) and closing of an abortion clinic), among other points. But, just talking about these dramas would do his work injustice.

He was a true Socialist in that he saw himself as the representative of the workers – not for his glory but for their well-being. He was really principled and anything but an opportunist or weathercock. He would smile but his default attitude was grumpy. He knew what was at stake.

He was very stubborn, but that didn’t mean that his ears were stopped-up. He loved arguing with his close ones – not to win, but to find the best positions. Once he arrived at such conclusions, he would not butch.

His wife was a fiery feminist and he heard her. As prime minister he met with feminists, sat on the floor listening to them, in front of the cameras.

He did not sweat the small stuff, symbolic action. His first deed in 1973 was to give the most prominent organization for homosexuals, the COC, legal entity status. He also introduced a minimum youth wage. He encouraged many people to keep building a new more honest society. Den Uyl helped lay the foundations of the Dutch modern liberal attitude.

Yet, he was perplexed how little he could steer or influence things for the better. Everything seemed conditional on everything else and more than piecemeal change turned out impossible. Still, for me he embodied the will to fight, regardless. He stood for morality and integrity. Those make a difference, even when one is unable to implement most ideals.


The establishment already earlier employed him for dirty work. In 1965, coal-mines in the South had to close. Den Uyl was Finance Minister, got to announce it and then was widely blamed for it. The dirty trick worked. Many blue-color workers from then on saw Den Uyl as their enemy.

After rows concerning marriages from several of the princesses, the upcoming May 4, 1973, Queen Juliana’s Silver Jubilee, was feared as a cause for a public call of enough is enough, we want a republic. (Though, in presidential elections, Queen Juliana would have won anyway.) To have the Left in opposition was dangerous – it should be in government.

The 1976 Discovery of a Lockheed (and Northrop, covered-up by Den Uyl) scandal involving Queen Juliana’s husband, became another threat to the House of Orange-Nassau Monarchy. Socialist Prime Minister Den Uyl had to sooth the situation to keep the Queen from abdicating, which would have cost his party dearly in next elections. (The Queen was much loved for her humility and simplicity. At her accession to the throne she spoke the remarkable words: “Who am I that I am allowed to do this.“)

He was a brilliant orator with endless energy. Sometimes he won by debating opponents until they left exhausted, with only his people left.

Den Uyl was a genius debater and a clever political animal. And still, his rule fell through betrayal he had not anticipated. General elections after his maximal four years, gave the Socialist Party 10 more seats (from 43 to 53) – the Dutch wanted more of Den Uyl! The Christian parties held coalition negotiations with the Socialists for more than half a year, on the face of it to form a second cabinet Den Uyl. Yet, shockingly, they then suddenly struck a deal with Conservatives, bypassing the Socialists. His only administration was the last Dutch Left-wing one ever since.

Calm returned and Socialists became redundant again and were dumped by the established order. It cynically had used Left-winger Den Uyl to maintain the basic status quo.

After the coup, friends and family members jointly, as consolation, wrote him a brilliant roman à clef Cabinet 1989 : The Third Cabinet Den Uyl in Session (sorry, it’s in Dutch), in which he emerged a chanced hero who in his own nonchalant way saves the day, inspector Colombo style.

Following the putsch, he himself wrote much about how to bring about a better world, also internationally. Yet, his writings would stay largely unused by his untimely death. He smoked – at the time a popular way to hyper concentrate. That’s probably what killed him.


After him, few of his students or successors could stand in his shadow. For me, integrity in Dutch politics died with him. (Living in Israel now for 25 years, I don’t know if it meanwhile has reincarnated in anyone. My friend Eva van Sonderen suggests as candidate Den Uyl’s fellow Democratic-Socialist hard working idealistic humble honest fighter for a more just and loving city for all, also from a strict Calvist home and heavy smoker, the widely loved and mourned Mayer of Amsterdam Eberhard van der Laan, who just passed away from long cancer.)

Now, the Dutch Left on its own almost has a parliamentary majority (D66 19, GreenLeft 14, SP 14, Labor 9, Animal Party 5, and 50+ 4, even without Left-wingers in the Christian parties (19 + 5), total: 65) but at election time, it was terribly divided – while the Right was solidly unified. Rutte III, the upcoming Administration, has just presented its plans, and finally the Left is uniting – a year too late. Then they would’ve had the largest fraction and formed the new government, instead of Rutte, whose party lost 8 seats in the elections! Now they only can protest.

I read, from the age of 10, four dailies a day. At 16, I discovered their biases. At 1973, I was 20. I knew Dutch politics. Den Uyl was for me the only real politician I’ve ever seen in the Netherlands. He was an idealist. Almost the only one. He went into politics to work for a better world.

I feel honored and inspired to have lived at a time and place where I got to see a person move in the arena of lying self-serving egotist elitists and keep his integrity and heart for everyone. The great Joop den Uyl.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here: