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Paris-Groeningen, 13 March 2023

In an open letter to Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, the European office of the Wiesenthal Centre urged the competent Dutch authorities to ban the upcoming “Israel Apartheid Week” at the University of Groningen (see poster below) and apparently on other campuses, organized by the infamous BDS Campaign (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, targeting exclusively Israel and the Jews).

13 March 2023

BDS, IAW and the misuse of terms such as “Apartheid” or “ethnic cleansing” – spuriously characterizing the situation in Israel and the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians or other Arab minorities – has become a typical example of antisemitism, hidden behind the mask of “anti-Zionism”.

The campaign is a blatant expression of demonization, delegitimation and double standards, that goes well beyond any criticism for the policies of one or another Israeli government – as it has been targeting the Jewish State for about 20 years running, whether the government had been centre-left, centre-right or right-wing, as is today.

Signatory of the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) Definition of Antisemitism since 1999, the Netherlands is well aware of how Jew-hatred has mutated and is currently represented. The IHRA Definition – adopted, among others, by the EU and all its member States – makes it clear that Memory of those exterminated during the Shoah does not magically safeguard the livelihood of today’s Jewish citizens. Recent years’ statistics are testimony to a rise in hostility and violence against the Jews... and much is imputable to these disgusting methods of incitement.

The BDS Campaign is a “soft power” tool that is meant to anaesthetise social conscience from the violence of “hard power” terrorism. The campaign implicitly recruits sympathizers for Palestinian Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, as well as Iran-sponsored Hezbollah, or Islamist ISIS, Al-Qaeda and many others across the board, from the extreme right to the far left.

BDS is the propaganda that instils and justifies hate... It is comparable to the Nazi “Kauft Nicht bei Juden” (“Don’t buy from the Jews”) campaign before WW2... At that time, the next steps were Kristallnacht, pogroms and the Holocaust. Today, the next steps are lone-wolf assaults, the importation to Europe of the Palestinian Intifada and full-fledged antisemitic terrorism.

Mr. Prime Minister, the abuse and banalization of the word “Apartheid” must jolt you and the Dutch people alike... This terminology was coined by Amsterdam-born Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, leader of the Afrikaner Nationalists and architect of the segregation system, and its implications have dramatically impacted the history of South Africa. The word is sanctuary to a specific form of systemic racism of which peoples of colour were victims, inasmuch as the word Shoah is specific to Jewish victims of Nazi murder.

The State of Israel is still a pluralistic democracy, notwithstanding the constant and diverse threats from Gaza, Syria or Iran. Its 20% of Muslims are represented in Parliament as in the Supreme Court, serve in the Army, work in all sectors of society and study in universities side by side with their Jewish, Christian, Druze or Baha’i peers. Therefore, “Apartheid” or “ethnic cleansing” are defamatory misrepresentations.

Mr. Prime Minister, we urge you to set an example and take all necessary measures to avoid that this “Week” in Groningen or elsewhere become yet another hatefest to incite Dutch youth into losing discernment regarding their 30,000 fellow Jewish citizens and jeopardizing the 75-years of good relations between the Netherlands and Israel.

“I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness; I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too.” (Anne Frank, 1929-1945)

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