21 January 2011

Dutch democracy under threat from Israel lobby

David Cronin | 16.01.2011

Since I first came here to Amsterdam in 1998, I have been in the Netherlands on many occasions and have always enjoyed myself. While I intend to continue visiting this country, I have realised that I need to reassess some of my assumptions about it.

Until recently, I was under the impression that the Netherlands was a democracy, in which freedom of expression was regarded as sacrosanct. Then I read some comments attributed to your foreign minister Uri Rosenthal.

The minister is putting pressure on the Dutch anti-poverty organisation ICCO to cease funding The Electronic Intifada, an excellent website that consistently defends the rights of the Palestinian people. Rosenthal has indicated that he cannot tolerate how ICCO supports this website, given that the Dutch government is a strong supporter of Israel. He has threatened to withdraw Dutch state grants to ICCO, telling the organisation: “It is alright to be critical but not to directly oppose the government”.

Rosenthal’s comments about The Electronic Intifada follow a report by a Zionist lobby group called NGO Monitor. This group accused The Electronic Intifada of being anti-Semitic without providing any evidence to back up its claims. Sadly, this is a typical tactic of the pro-Israel lobby. As soon as somebody tells the truth about Israel being an apartheid state and a vicious colonial project, it is only a matter of time before the lobby will label him or her an anti-Semite. This is a deliberate move designed to muzzle debate.

When Rosenthal says “it is alright to be critical but not to directly oppose the government”, we need to ask exactly what he means.

I am proud to be a contributor to The Electronic Intifada because I know that it defends the core human values enshrined in international law. It fearlessly exposes how international law is violated by such activities as the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the merciless blockade of Gaza.

Is it no longer acceptable in the Netherlands to defend international law?

Rather than becoming so exercised about The Electronic Intifada, I would urge Rosenthal and his government colleagues to investigate those Dutch organisations that facilitate abuses of international law.
Perhaps, for example, they could take a trip to the Israel Centre in Nijkerk, which is run by Christians for Israel. I visited this centre myself last summer and discovered how its shop sells many products manufactured by companies who are active in illegal Israeli settlements. These included cosmetics from Ahava, a firm based in the West Bank settlement of Mitzpe Shalem.

Perhaps, too, the Dutch government could examine the activities of the Sar-El Foundation, one of several organisations here in the Netherlands dedicated to supporting the Israeli army. Max Arpels Lezer, the chairman of this foundation, has boasted of how Dutch volunteers who take part in training exercises with the Israeli army “help the battle against the Palestinians” as if helping the oppression of an entire people is something admirable.

For some bizarre reason, the Sar-El Foundation is considered to be a charity. Donations to the foundation are, therefore, tax deductible. This is despite how the Israeli army that it supports has committed crimes against humanity, according to the United Nations investigation led by the retired South African judge Richard Goldstone into Israel’s attacks on Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009.

Can somebody please explain to me how one Dutch organisation can be treated as a charity, when it supports violations of international law? But when another Dutch organisation – such as ICCO – defends international law, the government threatens to punish it. Where is the justice here?

Late last year a very interesting diplomatic cable from the American embassy in The Hague was released by the website WikiLeaks. Drafted by Clifford Sobel, as he was preparing to step down as ambassador to the Netherlands in 2005, the cable states that Britain and the Netherlands are America’s most trusted allies in western Europe. The cable commends Dutch diplomats for being willing to act as America’s “eyes and ears” in the countries where they are posted and describes the Dutch as “go-to-guys” when the US is seeking a mediator to resolve internal disputes in NATO.

Among the similarities between The Netherlands and the US are that both governments consistently accommodate Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. Some veteran observers of the Israel-Palestine conflict to whom I have spoken have gone so far as to name The Netherlands as Israel’s most steadfast supporter in Western Europe.

Maxime Verhagen, the Dutch foreign minister until last year, proved especially amenable to Israeli propaganda.

During 2008 and 2009, Verhagen blamed the violence in Gaza entirely on Hamas. In doing so, he ignored how Hamas observed an Egyptian-brokered truce with Israel between June and November 2008. It was Israel which resumed the cycle of violence by attacking Gaza on 4 November that year, a day when the world was preoccupied with the election of a new American president.

Almost all of the victims of Operation Cast Lead, the three-week bombardment of Gaza that Israel launched in late December 2008, were Palestinians. In total, 1,387 Palestinians were killed. Almost 800 of these took no part in the hostilities, according to investigations by human rights monitors. These included 320 children.

By contrast, nine Israelis were killed during the violence. Six of them were Israeli soldiers, three were non-combatants.

If gestures of solidarity were required in early 2009, then surely it was the people of Gaza who required them most. Verhagen decided instead to express his solidarity with Israel. In January 2009, he travelled to Sderot in southern Israel, where he voiced concern about the rockets being fired by Hamas. If he had extended his trip by a few kilometres and ventured into Gaza, Verhagen would have witnessed far worse suffering caused by far more lethal weapons. But he refused to visit Gaza, showing no interest in seeing first-hand what was happening.

Could this be the same Maxime Verhagen who had previously presented a strategy paper to the Dutch parliament officially aimed at giving human rights a central role in his country’s foreign policy? Could it be the same Maxime Verhagen who stated in 2008 that “human rights apply to all people, in all places and at all times”?

I have a question for Verhagen and for other Dutch politicians today. Why do the human rights you claim to champion not apply to the Palestinian people?

·Excerpt from a presentation given in the ABC Treehouse, Amsterdam, 15 January 2011. Thanks to the Netherlands Palestine Committee for organising the event.


  1. i cant wait to see bethlehem free of the murderous idf,they were responsible for the massacre at the church of the nativity,also behind iraq and iran wars i believe the zionist crowd in my government carried out 9-11,one they either had information a attack would take place,did nothing to stop it,two, they certainly have stirred the hornets nest blowback was 9-11,anthrax letters look like classic deception, ,pnac,dancing israelis arrested with a van full of explosives headed for the george washington bridge,odigo,mossad admitted they were there to document the event,on talk show looks like evidence was planted,koran, flightmanual, last will, drivers liscense that survived the towers found by bernard kerigs office who now sits in jail. stolen passports,pentagon officials cancell flights,ascroft flies on persoonal jet,sf mayor willie brown tipped off by condirice, saudi,isi conduits nicholos berg 19th hyjacker had his password at uof oklahoma, ,why would you send a anthrax letter from trenton new jersey large arab population makes no sense,unless your pointing the finger towards muslims anthrax came from fort detrick,fbi destroys evidence frames three men, the last one a dead man e4b doomsday planes circling white house and east coast on 9-11 fake radar blips of hijacked planes,no alarm sounded at pentagon,wing of building was just reinforced to take a direct plane hit,they all lied about never envisioned someone flying a plane as missile,airforce stand down,fake iraq evidence,jews in very powerful positions in government, , they control all of the newspapers and news channels ,drone planes start assasinating people shortly after 9-11 dov zakiem flight control systems amodocs remote control technology,black boxes were recovered and then denied,no video tape of hijackers anywhere accept the two clips we keep seeing iaf controls airport security,nroffice stages live hijacking on 9-11 operation excercise plane crashing into wtc,operation cancelled when it actually happened,another smoking gun,they piggybacked a excercise and flipped it live, nsa building was evacuated before the attacks,supposed hijackers stayed right down the street from nsa headquarters disinformation along with marvin bush,john oneil who new to much, wtc power downs,kroll ass,mcclennan cia front companies aig greenberg the same guys who crashed wall street involved larry silverstein ups insuransce to cover two separate attacks,obvious controlled demolition ,insider doomsday trading,bloomberg blocks new 9-11 trial federal judge mukasey is blocking any attempts from people who didnt take bribe money,9-11 victims fund in the pentagon who fed us one lie after the other on fox news which is the propaganda wing of the zionist army. to 9-11,michael chertoff is a zionist turncoat,let the mossad go that were captured after 9-11 ,isi funds hijackers ,ben laden and bush carlyisle group, ,now that russia and more states to come will recognize palestine,israel is ready to launch a war to prevent this from happening,this could be the big one,mark my words,israel will start another war very soon i was right about the freedom flotilla and the us economic crash,and looks like the palestinians finally took my advice when i said the next time america calls dont pick up the phone,ignore them they are not a fait broker of peace,all they do is threaten and bribe people just look at joshua bolton another zionist ratt see you in the hague traitors,they killed jfk jr also,he was framed on fox news careless pilot,old lady had bag of coke,photo of cast on him,pentagon takes over search makes sure hes dead before they locate plane that had transponder contacted tower on final approach