Netherlands embraces Israel tighter, squeezing out human rights

Dutch Deputy Prime Minister Maxime Verhagen with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

Yossi Zamir Newscom

While Israel continues its ruthless occupation and oppression in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Syria’s Golan Heights, the right-wing government of the Netherlands plans to deepen its economic collaboration with Israel instead of holding it accountable for its violations of international law.

Maxime Verhagen, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation set out the Dutch government’s newest plans to strengthen political and economic relations with Israel in a 14 June speech in Haifa (“Innovation Nations Promoting Stronger Relations Between The Netherlands And Israel In A Changing Middle East”).

Verhagen announced policies in Israel about which the Dutch government had apparently not even informed parliament, The Electronic Intifada discovered.

Putting business before human rights

Trade and investment are forces for peace, Verhagen argued in his speech, “So when I say we want to strengthen economic relations with Israel, I also mean the Palestinian Territories. We believe this will help create a peaceful and prosperous Palestinian state.”

Verhagen urged Israel to allow normal trade between Gaza, the West Bank and third countries. But most of his speech was concerned with praising Israel and offering more rewards — not merely economic, but political as well.

Verhagen highlighted the long-standing Dutch-Israeli ties in the areas of research and development, academia and business. The collaboration covers high-tech industries, water, agrifood and horticulture.

For example, Verhagen talked about his visit to Better Place, an Israeli company which is building transport infrastructure in settlements and on Jewish-only roads in the occupied West Bank, as an investigation by The Electronic Intifada found last year. Verhagen pointed out that Better Place is “now preparing an electric taxi service between Amsterdam and Schiphol airport which will become operational in 2012.”

The Dutch government offered to share expertise in respect to the newly-discovered gas fields off the coast of Haifa and Gaza, said Verhagen. This offer could potentially embroil the Netherlands in pillage of Palestinian natural resources.

Verhagen spoke about his efforts to urge Israeli technology firms to work in the Netherlands and encouraged them “to showcase Israeli agritechnology for the European public.”

Israel has made “green technologies” or what critics call “greenwashing” an integral part of its propaganda strategy to divert attention from human rights abuses.

Legislators surprised by “Dutch-Israel Cooperation Council”

To crown the strengthening of ties, Verhagen announced the inauguration of the Dutch-Israeli Cooperation Council — an initiative of Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal — by January 2012.

The Electronic Intifada asked Labor Party Member of Parliament Frans Timmermans to comment on the creation of the council.

Apparently Rosenthal had not informed the Dutch parliament, because Timmermans immediately requested Rosenthal to clarify his plans in parliament, a request that was turned down by the minister. Only when MP Alexander Pechtold of the D66 party seconded the request for information, did Rosenthal promise to deal with the issue in a few months.

Netherlands endorses Israeli position on refugees

Regarding the peace process, Verhagen laid out policies that were similar to those recently announced by US President Barack Obama. But on the question of refugees’ rights he went considerably further than Obama in openly endorsing Israel’s refusal to accept Palestinian refugees’ right to return home:

“Their large-scale return to Israel is not a realistic option as this would jeopardize the Jewish character of the State of Israel. It would also undermine the very reason of being of a Palestinian state. The refugees should be offered an acceptable settlement, including compensation for those who will not be able to go back.”

Strong criticisms

Former Prime Minister of the Netherlands Dries van Agt heavily criticized Verhagen for praising Israel as “a modern democracy founded on the rule of law.”

Such a democracy would “not violate international law,” van Agt told The Electronic Intifada, whereas the State of Israel repeatedly “ignores UN resolutions and disdains the International Court of Justice and the international treaties. Verhagen rejoices [at the sight] of even more intimate collaboration with Israel.”

Van Agt added “It seems it does not matter to him [Verhagen] that ‘his’ Israel continues its refusal to meet the demands of the EU like releasing the stranglehold on Gaza.”

The former Dutch prime minister — who has himself faced stinging criticism from pro-Israel groups for his support of Palestinian human rights — pointed out that Verhagen “pleads for the resumption of the peace process and talks piously about the two-state solution without a word about the ongoing colonization of Palestinian land. He even avoids the term ‘occupation’ when he speaks about the Palestinian territory. Instead of expressing fraternal warnings he smothers all Israel’s evil policies in hugs.”

Also reacting to the speech, United Civilians for Peace chairperson Farah Karimi told The Electronic Intifada that her organization “welcomes the call on Israel to ensure that the occupied Palestinian territories will be opened for all humanitarian and economic goods, for commerce and exports.”

UCP is a coalition of the Dutch donor organizations ICCO, Cordaid and Oxfam-Novib, and peace organization IKV Pax Christi.

Karimi added “The ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip by Israel since 2007, refusing entry to the majority of humanitarian goods, is a breach of international humanitarian law, and in my view, simply morally unacceptable. But it can also contribute to further escalation of the conflict. The Palestinians have suffered enough; they have the same rights to a decent life, to a livelihood, to health care and education as any Israeli.”

Netherlands sets aside commitment to human rights

In October 2010, a right-wing minority government came to power with the support of the anti-Islamic Party for Freedom, known by its Dutch initials PVV. As part of its official policy statement, the new government agreed with the PVV to “further invest in the relationship with the State of Israel.”

Minister of Foreign Affairs Uri Rosenthal made clear what this intention entailed when he threatened to cut the funding of the Dutch grant-giving organization ICCO for its support of The Electronic Intifada, citing its reporting on the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

Last year, Rosenthal told the Dutch-language daily newspaper De Volkskrant that the two pillars of his policy are stability and security. Human rights was “a third pillar, but you cannot always, constantly be concerned with human rights” (Rosenthal wil netwerk ambassades reorganiseren,” 12 December 2010).

Rosenthal’s lack of concern about human rights violations by Israel was painfully clear in a debate in parliament on 14 June. Previous Dutch governments joined the international community in condemning extrajudicial killings by Israel, but under questioning from opposition MPs, Rosenthal bluntly denied that Israel even carries out such killings (“Human rights no longer Dutch priority,” Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 15 June 2011).

Deputy Prime Minister Verhagen’s speech in Haifa indicates that willful blindness to Israel’s actions is now well-established policy.

Adri Nieuwhof is a consultant and human rights advocate based in Switzerland.




The strangling closeness of the Netherlands with Israel is destroying permanently the International Criminal Court and the International Human Rights Laws, all of them. Netherlands identity and history leaves along with them.

S.M. de Kuyper
De Kuyper & Zoon Genever 1675


Before WW2 The Netherlands collaborated with the Nazis by refusing the admittance in the Netherlands of jews from Germany.
Is seems this is a matter of mentality
Now the Netherlands turns a blind eye to the violation of human rights in israel


The term omertà describes the silence and the impunity people assures mafia criminals for their dirty businesses. But there is hope because in spite of the fear there were and are peoples defending Law (be it national or international) People being willing to put their life in to the balance. I am thinking of Paolo Borsellino or Giovanni Falcone but also of the thousands not willing to bow their spines to the reign of fear. Law and justice will prevail, it is a matter of time. The dominant fascist ideology of the right wing people in power in Israel is hollowing out. Their apartheid policies are flagrant, think of South Africa and the long way to independence. And we all can do something. Inquire in your own country: which companies are doing business with Israel and namely with the illegal occupation (construction, electronics, transportation, power handling, communications etc. etc.) write to these companies, write or call to your media, contact your political representatives. There will soon be another Session on the Russel Tribunal on Palestine, the third, after Barcelona and London in South Africa this time see http://www.russelltribunalonpa.... This inspiring project might give you some ideas.


Why did the Dutch government ostracise Jorg Haider a few years ago for his right-wing sympathies, even discussing the possibility of breaking relations with Austria, whilst Verhagen happily poses next to extreme righ-wing Lieberman?
PS this is a rethorical question.


What we are watching in the Netherlands is a destruction of a once great nation that was a model of tolerance and civility. Along with the destruction of Dutch identity so admired by the world, we now see the loss of needed human rights advocacy. This is so sad to watch!

The reality is that the Dutch are a people that seem to have a penchant for celebrating loud and foul mouthed eccentrics who rip their own country, its great culture and history - and then elevate them to greater than William the Orange. Self hating Dutchmen like Wilders, Theo van Gogh and Fortuyn are not heroes, but men who destroyed their own country and its once great culture.

It is known that domestic politics manifest themselves into foreign policy. We will see, predictably, the "PVVing of Dutch foreign policy." So as long as Geert Wilders remains on the loose and in the halls of power in the Dutch government, we will see more of these really bad foreign policy decisions out of the Netherlands. What I predicted - and still predict - is that the Human Rights Tulip will be given to some remote and unknown person who "fought back against Muslim aggression."

NOPE - don't laugh, it's not far off!
After the attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt, the Dutch were concerned with human rights, but ignored the fact that the majority of Egyptians were against the violence.

The acquittal of Geert Wilders for clear-cut hate speech (and willful destruction of Dutch national identity) will hopeful wake-up lard butts in the United Nations and the European Union threat that the PVV-brand of hate and Islamophobia is a very serious threat against peace and public order in Western Europe since WWII. Also - we need to be prepared in the international community for some serious foreign policy nonsense out of the Netherlands when it comes to a relationship between Lukid Party, PVV and the Dutch government.


To understand this strange relationship between Israel and the Netherlands a bit better you have to go way back in time; after The Eighty Years' War a.k.a. Dutch War of Independence (1568–1648) against Spain, writers started to make a comparison with the Israelites being freed from Egypt after 430 years as written in the Bible (Exodus), moreover, they compared the Dutch leader Willem van Oranje with Israelites' Moses. Like Israel, they stated the Netherlands were a 'chosen' nation, favorited by God Himself, fated to be Reformed (e.g. Calvinists; since Spain was Catholic and the Dutch Reformed Church preached and practiced Calvinism, therefore God freed them from Spain for religious reasons - just like He did the Israelites from Egypt).
After The Eighty Years' War there was a common feeling that nothing bad would happen to the Netherlands as long as they'd live up to Gods standards as revealed in the Bible. This is very simular to what the Bible says to the Israelites: "In keeping the laws of God (YHWH) there is great reward." The writer/poet Isaac da Costa, who was a Messianic Calvinistic Jew born in Amsterdam (1798) for that reason named the Netherlands "the Israel of the West".
Nowadays there's not that much left of the Netherlands being "the Israel from the West" when it comes to practicing Calvinism but the feeling of closeness to Israel is still there, especially in right-wing parties but also in common life; the more islamophobia takes over in the Netherlands, the more they almost automatically become closer to Israel.
Plus there's still a minority of hardcore Calvinists left as well as a majority of people who's (grand)parents were hardcore Calvinists; as much as they call themselves secularized, their ancestors' commitment to Israel seems to be still in their system. In short, to the majority of Dutch Christians (and right-wing parties who are related to or have a strong opinion on religion) it's a fact that Israel is the chosen country of God (Who also is or at least was the God of the Netherlands), that once upon a time the "Philistines" fought against Jesus' great-great-great-grandfather King David and oppressed Israel, that the current Palestinians are the former Philistines a.k.a. haters of the God of Israel/the Netherlands ~ which makes them side with Israel.
That's what's taught to children at Christian schools in the Netherlands today and not many people find that abnormal; of course there are other (economic) reasons why "Netherlands embraces Israel tighter", impossible to embrace Israel without embracing US and if there's any country they get the submissive shivers from it's the US, but I think this religious reason might be underestimated.


Today, Dutch law maker Frans Timmermans wrote that Uri Rosenthal admitted in parliament that the Netherlands is breaking with its 60year old tradition of human rights policies. Rosenthal explicitly said that he will no longer hold "allies" to account for their violations of human rights.


The core of the problem traces to Lawrence "of Arabia" during WW I. He passed along the British Government's false promise of a free Pan-Arabian Nation, if Arab fighters would join in the battle against the Turks. Many brave fighters took up the cause and fought side-by-side with the British, and many died in the strugle. The war was won, and the British immediately betrayed all Arabs, driving their tanks into all oil-producing areas and stealing the people's resources. They then bought in Jews to act as a distraction to their evil actions, and just as the formented religious wars on the Indian Sub-continent between Hindu and Muslim, they promoted hatred between Arabs and Jews. BP oil executives just sit back in their posh London penthouses and laugh at how how people who should have common cause against them instead are killing each other. Will people ever wake up?