Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders called on the government of the Netherlandsto issue an apology to the Jewish people for its “passive” role in the mass deportations of Jewish citizens by the Nazis during World War II.
Wilders, a Dutch right-wing politician and leader of the Netherlands’ third-largest political party, Party for Freedom, wrote to Prime Minister Mark Rutte with the request on Wednesday, after two former Dutch government ministers said in a book published in October that the Netherlands did not take a strong enough stand on behalf of the Jews during the war.
Former health minister Els Borst was quoted in “Judging the Netherlands” by Manfred Gerstenfeld as saying that she believes the Dutch government in exile, led by Queen Wilhemina and Prime Minister Pieter Sjoerds Gerbrandy, would have appealed more resolutely on behalf of the Jews to the Dutch people if the deportees had been Catholics or Protestants. She was involved in talks during the 1990s on reparations for Jewish survivors, which led to an agreement in 200 to pay $180 million in restitution.
Former finance minister Gerrit Zalm, who was also involved in 1990s reparations talks, said in the book that he would also support calls for an official apology.
Wilders is a long-time vocal critic of what he perceives to be aggressive Islamic encroachment on the West, and a supporter of Israel’s war on terror. He has praised Israel for defending the West against an Islamic onslaught, warning that “if we do not stop Islamification now, Eurabia and Netherabia will just be a matter of time.”
“Thanks to Israeli parents who send their children to the army and lay awake at night,” Wilders said in a speech in New York, “parents in Europe and America can sleep well and dream, unaware of the dangers looming.”
Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1940 despite Dutch assertion as a neutral state. When the first Jews were deported in 1941, Dutch citizens conducted the “February Strike” a unique general strike of Dutch workers in protest of the measure. The Nazis responded by cracking down on protest leaders and acting even more harshly against the Jewish community.
The Dutch were the first Europeans to strike against Nazi actions against the Jews, followed only by the Danes and Luxemburgers. Only 30,000 of Holland’s 140,000 Jews survived the Holocaust.
Wilders wrote to Prime Minister Rutte that apologizing for not doing more is “the least thing to do”.
Spokesman Chris Breedveld said the government would carefully consider Wilders’ request.
In December 2010, Wilders flew to Israel and took part in a conference of MK Aryeh Eldad’s HaTikvah movement. There, Wilders called Israel “an immense source of inspiration for me,” saying “I will always defend Israel.” Wilders also reaffirmed the Jewish right to Judea and Samaria. “Israel, including Judea and Samaria, has been the land of the Jews since time immemorial,” he said. “Never in the history of the world has there been an autonomous state in the area that was not Jewish.”Malkah Fleisher