THE HAGUE—“We do not accept anti-Semitism in this country. That is the Constitution,’’ Dutch State Secretary Paul Blokhuis, at a special event in the Dutch parliament in The Hague to mark Jewish life in the Netherlands.
The event took place on Tuesday in the prestigious Ridderzaal (Hall of the Knights) of the parliament which is usually only used for State, Royal and very special other events.
The Ridderzaal also has a more chequered past. The last time it was used outside of state events was in 1940 when the Nazi regime’s Reichscommisssar Arthur Seyss-Inquart held his inauguration speech as Governor of the Netherlands.
‘’Our democracy can only function if we draw a line when discrimination and anti-Semitism arise. World War II and the Holocaust are also our history,’’ the minister, who is responsible for commemoration and is a Christian and a pastor’s son, said.
He mentioned that his parents helped people go to hiding during WWII;
Rabbi Shmuel Katzman, the rabbi of The Hague, spoke on the rich Jewish history of The Hague, the political capital of The Netherlands.
Jack van der Tang, a Christian advocate, who organised the event said: “Of the 140,000 Jews in the Netherlands, 102,000 were killed. We want to recognize the crimes, and write history. There are still echoes from the Ridderzaal in 1940, we must ensure that that it may never happen again”.
Among the participants, Aviv Shir-On, Israel’s Ambassador to the Netherlands added: “I am thankful that the Netherlands says about anti-Semitism: not here! And if everyone says so, we will eradicate it”.
In his intervention, Chief Rabbi Jacobs of the Netherlands made the following remarks: “Is it realistic to talk about emerging anti-Semitism? It is not new after all. We used to have the wrong belief. In the Middle Ages we were a virus. And for that we had to be eliminated. My parents were the wrong breed. And we, the Jews of today, are all Zionists. In 1945 my father returned home. The neighbors were not happy. It took a few weeks to get permission to go back to his own house. His windows were smashed. Like my windows were smashed a few years ago.’’
‘’We must not exaggerate about anti-Semitism. But we must be vigilant for the danger. Anti-Semitism is increasing,’’ said Rabbi Jacobs.
‘’Thank God, the government protects us. I am grateful for that. But it is bizarre and unacceptable that this protection is needed. The generation of survivors is slowly disappearing,’’ he added.