Geert Wilders, the leader of the Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid, PVV), spoke out yesterday about the need for the Dutch government to support Israel. The following translated interview was made public today by the PVV.
The end of the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel is near and the call for an independent international investigation into Israel’s behavior is getting harder.
Not if it depends on PVV leader Geert Wilders. “We must unconditionally support Israel in the battle,” he tells NU.nl.
International criticism of the war behavior of both Hamas and especially Israel increases every day. In the Netherlands the tensions between ethnic groups increase as well. Last Tuesday, Minister Frans Timmermans (Foreign Affairs) wrote in an op-ed article in NRC Handelsblad that he finds the violence in Gaza “unacceptable.” What did you think of this article?
“Incomprehensible. He says it is not a fight between Jews and Muslims. Well, it isn’t a fight between Christians and Hindus. This is exactly what it is all about, and what is going on in the region. At a moment when Israel is the only democracy in the region and a bastion of the free West, we must stand firmly behind Israel.”
Do you miss that attitude?
“Yes, I miss that in the Netherlands. It does not surprise me of the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Frans Timmermans) because I know that as a Labour politician his views are different than mine, but I find it incomprehensible that we do not show solidarity with Israel at this moment. I also find it incomprehensible that the minister does not point to the cause of the hatred of Jews, which exists within Hamas.”
Yet Minister Timmermans is also critical of the role of Hamas in the conflict. He condemns the storage of weapons in schools and hospitals, and the shelling of Israel. Timmermans also believes that Israel has a right to defend itself against this.
“This is not a time to be balanced. This is a time to choose. This is a moment that is not asking for balance, because balance is not necessary. Today we must defend a country that, as far as I know, does not aim to destroy any Arab country or people. The opposite is, however, true.
“At such a moment you have to stand with the state of Israel and do not say ‘listen, this is not a conflict between Muslims and Jews’ and ‘the Israeli actions are disproportionate.’ Imagine that this would happen in the Netherlands, we would also hit back hard.”
But Timmermans also says in the op-ed piece and in the written consultation with Parliament last week that the government agrees that Israel has the right to defend itself?
“Yes, but in the meantime he criticizes Israel.”
Is he not allowed to question the proportionality of the Israeli use of violence?
“Sure he can. An investigation is also allowed. I would prefer he had not done it, but he is allowed to do it. However, I would have preferred it if he had demanded an investigation into the actions of Hamas. Everyone can read and see how Hamas is firing rockets from schools and hospitals.”
Still, an international independent investigation would be good to determine at least whether Israel has acted proportionately?
“No, this gives a wrong signal. What we forget is that the fight against Israel is a fight against everything that is not Islamic, a fight against freedom and democracy. If Israel falls, we are next. Timmermans should stand behind Israel.”
“Well, I do not say always and unconditionally, perhaps that is going a bit far. As far as I’m concerned, we stand unconditionally behind Israel in this fight, but of course not behind everything Israel does. That would be ridiculous.
“This is not a territorial conflict, but an ideological conflict. Many people think that you can give land in exchange for peace. It is an illusion to think that if you give away a piece of land, you will get peace in return.
“It is a mistake to believe in a two-state solution.”
You do not believe in a two-state solution as imposed by the UN?
“I do in the sense that the Palestinians already have a state, namely Jordan. Jordan is the Palestinian state. Hence, the two-state solution is already a reality.”
What do you think is the best approach to deal with Hamas?
“It is a waste of time to talk or negotiate with ISIL or Hamas. They are barbarians. Only the total destruction of this type of terrorist organizations is helpful.”
On Wednesday, Bram van Ojik, the leader of the Green Left Party, advocated a drastic change in the attitude of the Dutch government in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Van Ojik wants economic development of Gaza, the imposition of an arms embargo against Israel and political support for the Palestinian state.
“My view is the opposite of what the Green Left proposes. I find it insane that the Netherlands has given development money to Gaza. This is a reward for bad behavior. This money is being spent by Hamas.”
But Timmermans assures Parliament in the written consultation that no money has been given to Hamas. He mentions “strong verification procedures” to ensure that the money does not get into the hands of terrorist organizations.
“Ultimately, Hamas controls Gaza. So ultimately this money benefits Hamas.”
Is Timmermans lying when he informs Parliament in this way?
“This is a charade of the highest order. The money may not end up on the bank account of Gaza, but Hamas is the boss there. No-one can exclude that Hamas uses this money to build the tunnels. Even if this is not the case, the money goes to an area that is controlled by Hamas.”
The war in Gaza has led to reactions worldwide, and therefore also in the Netherlands. Anti-Semitic statements have been made during a number of Gaza demonstrations. Together with Jewish organizations, the Cabinet released a statement in which a firm position is taken against anti-Semitism and discrimination in the Netherlands. You have said that his statement was “worthless.”
“Indeed. It is worthless because Prime Minister Rutte and the Cabinet refuse to see the elephant in the room. It is an objective fact that all those anti-Semitic statements are made by people who adhere to Islam.
“A statement in which the cause of anti-Semitism is not mentioned, is without substance, makes no sense and is worthless.”
Most protesters are critical of the policies of the Israeli government. Are they also anti-Semitic?
“No. Of course you can be critical of every country. Let us be glad that in the Netherlands we have a right to demonstrate. However, bringing the Hitler salute and waving ISIL flags is something which should not be permitted.
“We have to deal in a different way with organizations like ISIL that aim to destroy us. We have to hit them hard.”
In that same statement, the Cabinet writes that it will act hard against anti-Semitic and discriminatory statements made during demonstrations. Those who make such statements will have to deal with the public prosecutor and the judiciary. What else can the government do?
“I think that demonstrations by types like ISIL should not be allowed in the Netherlands.”
But the Cabinet says that it will act against this.
“They still allow it.”
We have seen, however, how the police acted appropriately in Amsterdam?
“Yes, fortunately in Amsterdam it was different than in The Hague for example. So it can be done.”
This morning, the newspaper The Telegraph published a full-page ad against anti-Semitism which was signed by many prominent Dutch people. You had been asked to sign the ad by Ms Voet of CIDI [a Dutch Jewish organization], but you did not find your name under the ad. Did this startle you?
“I find this incomprehensible. On Tuesday, I got a letter from Ms Voet. I responded within half an hour. Of course I was prepared to sign. Afterwards, I did not hear from her again.”
So you were surprised when you opened the paper this morning?
“Yes, I was looking for my name and I did not find it. I thought ‘what is this…’.”
According to Ms Voet you were removed from the list because you had called the joint statement of the Cabinet and the Jewish organizations “worthless.”
“She could have called me to explain the situation. By removing me because of my criticism, Esther Voet disqualifies herself as someone who fights anti-Semitism and defends the interests of the Jewish community in the Netherlands. It is as if she does not accept criticism. I regret this, because I would have liked to sign the statement against anti-Semitism.”
CIDI and the Central Jewish Board (CJO) distanced themselves from you and the PVV after your calls for fewer Moroccans and your flirting with European political parties with an anti-Semitic past. Does that bother you?
“They may pretend this, but here is the reason why this is not true: It is CIDI which asked me to sign the ad. I did not call to ask ‘May I join.’ If I respond positively to a request within half an hour, it is inappropriate to remove my name without explanation. Then they should not have asked me.”
What do you think of the fact that representatives of the Jewish community distance themselves from you?
“I have very many friends in the Jewish community. I know that I have the support of many of them. CIDI does not speak on behalf of all Jews in the Netherlands. CIDI is also not why I take my positions.
“My mission is not about CIDI, but to preserve the Netherlands, where the Judeo-Christian, humanistic culture is currently being threatened by Islamization, as a free Western country.
“Apparently Ms Voet does not want me to link Islam to anti-Semitism, but look at what Hamas is doing in Gaza, look at what ISIL does with Christians in Iraq. They all get their turn.
“I do not understand that someone who claims to represent the interests of the Jewish community does not see this. If Islam takes over power here, the Jews will be the first to feel it.”
So you do not feel that you have lost the goodwill of the Jewish community in the Netherlands?
“In my opinion that is only a minor thing. On the contrary, there is still a very warm support, both in the Netherlands and internationally.”