In the Dutch press the Israeli government, its defenders and its people are often portrayed as occupiers and war criminals. Many of the champions of “human rights” campaigns receive the support of Dutch institutions and media. Moreover, the International Criminal Court in The Hague has recognized Palestine as a state and is currently “investigating war crimes” allegedly committed by the state of Israel. Strangely, the same standards are never applied to the Netherlands. If they were, the Netherlands would be one of the world’s most criminal nations and Israel a beacon of freedom and peace.
Press freedom in Israel exceeds by far that in the Netherlands
The truth of the matter is that Israeli citizens and media enjoy a degree of freedom far exceeding that existing in the Netherlands. Israel is placed under a limelight where the slightest fault, even fictional, is blown up out of all proportion. The Netherlands, on the other hand, is presented as a kind, free and tolerant land despite human rights abuses committed in its colonies and former colonies. Moreover, politicians and dissidents are sometimes killed or have little choice but to flee the country.
It is no coincidence that we rarely if ever hear about about such matters. The level of press freedom in the Netherlands is far below that enjoyed in Israel. Most Dutch journalists are either compromised, lack critical judgment or are afraid to write about controversial topics. Only in recent years have issues such as the true degree of complicity by Dutch government officials and businessmen during the Shoa, massacres committed in Indonesia in the 1940s and abuse of children by Catholic priests been dealt with, albeit to a minimal extent. That a large number of members of parliament are financially compromised is still considered too risky a topic to report.
Among the issues rarely if every dealt with by the Dutch press are the following:
Dutch government complicity in the Holocaust
During the Holocaust, Dutch Railways voluntarily laid a track to the transit camp in Westerbork, the main departure point for the extermination camps in Poland. Just over 5,000 of the 107,000 Jews deported from the Netherlands survived the war. Dutch Railways billed the Germans for each deported Jew and refused to go on strike in the summer of 1943, knowingly sending the country’s Jewish citizens to extermination camps. When the war was over those in charge of the railways were appointed to report on which employees were guilty of collaboration. They found themselves and other collaborators innocent, after which they remained in their posts. Police officers who hunted and sold Jews worked until their retirement. The cover-up of the role Dutch politicians and businessmen played before, during and after the Holocaust is ongoing – see my article in the Jerusalem Post from September 10, 2016.
Dutch massacres in Indonesia
In the late 1940s the Netherlands had an abundance of Deir Yassins. However Dutch reporters rarely writing about their country’s past and nothing appears in the international media. In a book published this past June, ‘Thuis gelooft niemand mij. Zuid-Celebes 1946-1947’ (Nobody at home would believe it if I told them. South Sulawesi 1946-1947), the journalist Maarten Hidskes reports on war crimes committed by his father and describes the atmosphere of silence and complicity among his comrades at arms. At the time Israel was attacked by Arab armies the Netherlands was slaughtering countless thousands of Indonesian ‘freedom fighters’. The Jews were fighting for their very existence, while the Netherlands was attempting to maintain its dominance over tens of millions of people on the other side of the world.
Israel has good reasons to defend its borders with ‘occupied territories’. Few people know that the impoverished residents of the Dutch Caribbean islands are citizens of the “sovereign territories of the Kingdom of the Netherlands”. The Kingdom of the Netherlands ceased to exist in 1848. Many of the citizens of islands such as Curacao and Sint Maarten are impoverished and its prison system violates basic human rights. By placing the colonies in a fictional entity the Netherlands shows its true face as an ‘occupying’ or colonial power. In comparison, the citizens of the French islands in the Caribbean enjoy full social benefits and are treated as citizens of the European Union.
Abuse by Catholic priests still not investigated
The Netherlands is perhaps the only European country which has refused to investigate sexual abuses purportedly committed by Catholic priests. Wim Deetman, a Dutch politician who was a member of the country’s highest court the Council of State, ignored reports of castration and other abuses. He has been accused of having derailed a parliamentary inquiry into the issue by intimidating witnesses in 2012. Reports of sexual abuse by priests first surfaced in the Dutch press in the 1980s. However the governments of former prime minister Dries van Agt and Ruud Lubbers ignored the issue.
Pim Fortuyn, an independent liberal politician who could not be bribed or cajoled by the establishment, was assassinated while leaving the Media Park in Hilversum nine days before his party was predicted to sweep the 2002 parliamentary elections. He was one of the first to warn of the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism and was a friend of the Jewish state. He was at odds with many in the political and business establishment on a variety of issues. Despite numerous threats he was denied protection and after his assassination there were many allegations that his killer was not a lone environmentalist assassin. The killer was freed in 2014, for he had served two-thirds of his 18-year sentence; a majority in the Dutch parliament agreed to his release.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: the first refugee from Western Europe since the start of the Holocaust
After the election of President Obama in 2008 many Dutch reporters were asking when the Netherlands would elect a black head of state. In a letter to the editor of the Dutch free newspaper ‘Metro’, I wrote that there had been an excellent candidate, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. However, she had fled to the United States in 2006 for fear of her life. An article by Arutz 7 in 2011 described her as the “first refugee from Western Europe since the Holocaust began”.
Hirsi Ali was an independent thinker, and she was a black immigrant. Although she expressed what most people were thinking she was almost universally hated from the trendy left to the bigoted right. Her eloquence and skills were not appreciated in the Netherlands. The rise of a black immigrant to a position of influence could not be tolerated. She was accused of ‘lying’ on her asylum application form by the same institution which had told her that she would not receive asylum if she did not exaggerate, since fleeing from an arranged marriage was insufficient. Her colleagues attempted to rescind her Dutch citizenship. She was forced to give up her seat in parliament and ended up fleeing the country.
Former Dutch PM allegedly ordered Moluccan massacre
One of Israel’s most fervent opponents, the former prime minister of the Netherlands, Dries van Agt allegedly ordered the massacre of Moluccan ‘terrorists’ who hijacked a Dutch train in 1977. I was in the Netherlands during this period and can vividly recall the rage of Dutch self-proclaimed anarchists – who of course opposed Israel. They seethed with indignation that the Moluccans had no right to hijack a train and threaten innocent Dutch civilians. One of the Netherlands’ most fervent opponents of Israel, former prime minister Dries van Agt, was justice minister during the hijacking. According to a police officer who was present at the hijacking Van Agt ordered that the hijackers were not to leave the scene alive.
The government and citizens of Israel should create an ICC against The Hague in Jerusalem. The court and its documentation center will research crimes committed by the Netherlands, protect witnesses and offer asylum to people such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali.