Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

“Befehl ist Befehl”, literally “an order is an order,” is alive in the Netherlands

The Netherlands just decided to sort out all the atrocities that its military committed in “its” Colony the Dutch Indies after WW II to try stopping an independent Indonesia. The Low Countries are obviously very slow in cleaning up war crimes. Look at the following case.

There is now a trial going on about alleged liquidation of Moluccan train hijackers from close by after they were already incapacitated, 40 years ago. Marines employed at the liberation of the train claim not to have done this. It is hard to believe them. Autopsy reports tend to be very accurate in the Netherlands. But then it happened.

Marines employed at breaking up another Moluccan hostage situation now have spoken up. They could not stay silent any longer. Their story: politicians try to run away from blame by framing us, declaring that they never asked for liquidation. However, we marines are trained to kill. You order marine action, you order killers. Otherwise you send in the police. The ones who should stand trial are the politicians.

In other words: “I’m sure we murdered them but politicians ordered us – go take them to court.” Shocking! Have they never heard that ever since the Nuremburg trials against Nazi Germany’s top perpetrators, “Befehl ist Befehl”, literally “an order is an order,” is invalid defense? Who needs a prosecutor with friends and colleagues like that!

Apparently they still think that any command needs to be executed, even if it’s plain murder. But it gets worse. Really.

The minister of justice at the time, who ordered the storming of the train, is still alive. In the Netherlands, ministers can be political appointees who know nothing about the ministry they get to work in. But this person was law professor. We’re talking about the notorious Van Agt, later known for his unabated smear campaign against Israel, but who already at the beginning of his political career called himself in an interview an Aryan, instead of Gentile or non-Jew.

Professor Van Agt has refused to answer questions about his orders to the marines at the time “as long as the trial goes on.” This evasion shows that he too is unaware of the bankruptcy of the Befehl ist Befehl excuse. Otherwise he could have easily said: Even if they were told to kill all the hostages and take no prisoners, which I deny, that does not permit anyone to murder someone who’s been rendered powerless or who has given himself up. Murderers on order are still murderers.

In the post-WW II Jewish State, the military code is (of course) very clear on the obligation to disobey unjust orders. Conscripts are drilled about it endlessly. But even the Israeli public that never served knows that unlawful commands cannot be heeded. Not so in the Netherlands: not the law professor minister of justice, not the marines, not the prosecutor, not the defense lawyers and not the judge know. Shocking.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. 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 most influential teachers (chronologically) 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. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), 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), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating 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. * 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. November 13, 2018, he published his 500th blog post with the ToI. 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 a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To find his earlier blog posts on a certain subject XXX, among his over 1200 ones, go to the right-top corner of the Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". His second daily active less tame blog, to which one may subscribe, one may find here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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