On the night a ceasefire came into effect ending eight days of Israeli slaughter that left 162 people, the vast majority unarmed civilians, dead in Gaza, Dutch columnist and author Leon de Winter proposed adding chemicals to Gaza’s water supply to sterilize the population.
The website PowNed reported that de Winter “made his proposal for forced eugenics yesterday evening in Amsterdam at a solidarity meeting of Dutch Jews,” and that the speech by de Winter was broadcast this morning by Dutch mainstream and publicly-funded Radio 1.
De Winter responded in his speech to the accusations of genocide leveled against Israel, saying that the population of Gaza had only increased over the last few years. “Maybe we should secretly add some means of birth control to Gaza’s drinking water,” De Winter proceeded to propose.
The suggestion was met with roaring laughter by the public. Among the participants that evening were the Israeli ambassador to the Netherlands, Hiam Devon, and the cheerful leader of the [religious ultra-conservative] SGP party, Kees van der Staaij.
While de Winter, known for his “humor,” might have intended his suggestion as some sort of sick joke, the reported reaction suggests that the audience were only too ready to mock an already dehumanized population.
De Winter’s comment fits neatly with Israel’s racist conception of Palestinians as a “demographic threat” simply because they are not Jews.
Such genocidal comments are particularly disturbing in The Netherlands given the upsurge of Islamophobia and xenophobia in recent years, and because the country had a particularly shameful history of collaboration with the Nazis in deporting Jews to their deaths during the Second World War.
Event backed by major Dutch Jewish communal and Zionist organizations
The 21 November event where de Winter spoke, titled “We Stand with Israel” and held at Amsterdam’s Jewish Cultural Center, was co-sponsored by a who’s who of Jewish communal and Zionist organizations, among them CIDI, Christians for Israel, WIZO (the Women’s International Zionist Organization), Collectieve Israel Actie (Israel Action Collective) and Mifgash, an organization that aims to encourage Jews to leave their home countries and emigrate to Israel.
De Winter’s repulsive comment is reminiscent of a genocidal call by American “academic” and former Harvard University fellow Martin Kramer at a conference in Israel in 2010 for the “surplus” population of Gaza to be reduced by cutting off humanitarian aid.
Daniel Bugel-Shunra, who translated the PowNed post, noted that the reader comments below it indicated little support for de Winter’s statement.
“Quite the contrary, which is a big surprise to me, especially since this website has strong anti-Islamic and anti-immigrant tendencies,” Bugel-Shunra told The Electronic Intifada.