February 13, 2014
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is urging the Dutch government to take steps to counter the growing negativity about Jews and Israel. In a letter to Dutch Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Frans Asscher, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, wrote that a “major issue I am referring to is the almost 39% of Dutch citizens who hold extreme and inflammatory ideas about Israel. You may recall that I sent you the data from the study of the University of Bielefeld which reported these Dutch respondents agreeing with the statement that Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians!”
Deputy PM Asscher (pictured at an earlier meeting with Rabbi Cooper) has previously publicly acknowledged the problem and expressed concern about this issue, but Rabbi Cooper is pressing for action. “An important first step should be a government-ordered study to trace how such an utterly false and insidious image of Israel was created,” Cooper wrote. “Those who conceive and promote an unjustified extreme criminal view of others should be exposed and held accountable in the Court of Public Opinion. We know too well from the 1930s in Germany what can happen when the delegitimization and demonization of a people goes unchallenged.” Cooper offered the Center’s help in setting the parameters of such a study that “would focus on how this climate was created and what can be done to remedy this unacceptable situation. I believe it would spark a necessary national discussion among Dutch leaders and citizens.”
Rabbi Cooper also expressed dismay over the failure to tackle The Netherlands' WWII record, “the Netherlands has neither admitted the negligence of its World War II government and the collaboration of the bureaucracy with German occupiers, nor offered any apologies. I believe the Netherlands is the only occupied country during the war where this is the case.”
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The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).