This morning I woke up and followed the usual routine of reading the paper while sipping on coffee and waiting for it to kick in to jump-start the day. A quick skim of the front page takes me to domestic (Dutch) affairs. The coffee was not necessary anymore and might as well have thrown that down the drain because a picture of a pseudo Israeli army in The Hague was enough to practically choke the day.
What is going on? I expected the face of “Harry Potter” (the nickname of the Dutch Prime Minister Balkenende) and his â€œpitch inâ€ policy that is leading the poor to becoming poorer and the rich to becoming richer in social-democratic Holland. A number of confused questions started going through my head. Where was I? Occupied Palestine? Did the Israeli army withdraw from Lebanon to come to Holland? What is going on?
A more detailed inspection of this portrait upon reading the article brought clarity to my confused mind, but it did not yet eliminate the uneasy feeling of fear. The relieving feeling and idea of not having to go through checkpoints several times a daily, or see soldiers, military jeeps and tanks in every corner of the country seemed distant all of a sudden; as if that was all too good to be true.
According to the Dutch daily De Volkskrant, the Jewish Defence League was established this summer in Holland. For the first time this Sunday they demonstrated in the Hague in front of the American and Israeli embassies. They were wearing Israeli military customs, blue bomberjacks with a logo showing the Star of David with a fist embroidered onto them, carrying sizable Israeli flags. They hereby wished to express their concern about the Road Map that would lead to a peaceful settlement and the formation of an independent Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel. According to the founder of the organization, Philip Awuy, their militant image is misleading. They are here to protect the Jewish community from anti-Semitism, having therefore consciously adopted this defensive, rather than offensive, mode.
De Volkskrant also mentions that this organization did exist in the 70s, only they overly extended their welcome when committing violent attacks against Dutch media institutions at the slightest suspicion of a pro-Palestinian stance. At that point the Dutch government decided to ban the organization all together.
The JDL was traced back to 1968 when the radical rabbi Meir Kahane founded the organization in the United States. De Volkskrant concludes with the fact that JDL is prohibited in Israel.
Somehow this conclusion did not seem to put my mind at ease. Is this the same JDL that commended Baruch Goldstein when opening fire, slaughtering 39 praying Palestinians in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Herbon.
“We feel that [Baruch] Goldstein took a preventative measure against yet another Arab attack on Jews. We understand his motivation, his grief and his actions. And we are not ashamed to say that Goldstein was a charter member of the Jewish Defense League.” — SOURCE: JDL website
Is this the same organization that has been accused by the FBI and CIA of more than 50 terrorist attacks in the United States and is this the organization of which its members were suspected to be involved in the bombing of the LA offices of the American Arab Anti Discrimination Committee, which killed an ADC regional director Alex Odeh? Is this the same organization that has strong links with the most extreme settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories, eg. the also illegal Kach movement? Is this the same organization of which its chairman, Irv Rubin and Earl Krugel, a member of the organization, were officially charged with conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism?
Living under occupation in Palestine is one thing, but living in Western Europe and having the occupation follow you is another. I am not only speaking as the Palestinian of today, or, the Dutch of then, but, as a human being.