Dutch Jewish group decries honoring of soldier who fought for Hitler

Dutch Jews protested the commemoration of a soldier who fought for Adolf Hitler on a monument bearing names of Holocaust victims.

The Federative Jewish Netherlands, or FJN, called the inclusion of the soldier’s name to the monument in the town of Geffen, located 60 miles southeast of Amsterdam, “both shocking and cowardly,” the Eindhovens Dagblad reported last week.

In 2012, then-Geffen Mayor Roel Augusteijn announced the scrapping of a controversial plan to unveil a monument bearing the names of German soldiers who died fighting for Nazi Germany along with Holocaust victims and Allied soldiers.

Hotly contested by Jewish organizations including FJN, the so-called Reconciliation Monument’s original intention had become too controversial to be realized, Augusteijn said. Instead, a monument with no names was unveiled.

But the monument was redesigned to include one headstone carrying the names of Jewish Holocaust victims and another bearing the name of a local man who died while fighting for Germany’s Wehrmacht under Hitler, the Eindhovens Dagblad reported.

The additional headstones were placed in December with no media coverage. FJN was informed about it earlier this month.

“There can be no reconciliation between perpetrators and victims,”  FJN chair Herman Loonstein told the local daily. “Certainly not in one stroke, as was done here with the placing of two adjacent stones.”

A member of the local historical society defended the move, saying “the names of all victims from the village are listed together” on previously erected monuments.

The Geffen controversy comes amid a polarizing debate in the Netherlands about commemoration of World War II fatalities.

In 2012, the national commemoration committee of the Netherlands scrapped a poem from its main annual ceremony because it was seen to suggest that Nazis deserved to be commemorated along with their victims. The poem was written by a high school student to his late great-uncle, who died while fighting as an SS officer.

Also that year, a Dutch court issued an injunction against the commemoration of German soldiers in the town of Vorden.

The country’s leading watchdog on anti-Semitism, the Center for Documentation and Information on Israel, has called for official commemoration authorities to adopt clear criteria that exclude the commemoration of soldiers and other representatives of Nazi Germany or its allies in ceremonies in memory of people who died during or because of World War II.

European Parliament members urged not to visit Iran

Jewish and non-Jewish organizations urged the European Parliament to cancel a planned visit to Iran by some of its lawmakers.

B’nai B’rith International President Allan Jacobs said the visit by 15 of the parliament’s lawmakers on Oct. 27 would be “counterproductive” to efforts to isolate Iran in response to its perceived efforts to gain nuclear weapons and the regime’s human rights violations. The American Jewish Committee also condemned the visit.

On Tuesday, the vice president of the European Parliament, Alejo Vidal-Quadras, also had decried the visit.

“We believe that any formal delegation from the European Parliament or any national parliament in Europe to Iran will be extremely counterproductive,” he said.

The Oct. 27 visit was announced last month by the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with Iran as a means to “build bridges” with that country.

In the Netherlands, the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, a watchdog group on anti-Semitism, called on the Dutch representative to cancel her participation in the delegation.

A joint statement by CIDI and the Iran Comite, a Dutch nonprofit monitoring Iranian human rights violations, said the visit would “legitimize Iran’s objectionable politics, also in the eyes of the Iranian population.”

The Vienna-based European Stop the Bomb coalition also called for the visit to be canceled, as did U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) in a letter they sent to European Parliament President Martin Schulz. The senators urged Schulz to reconsider the visit “given Iran’s continued human-rights offenses and failure to suspend its nuclear program.”

Anti-Semitic incidents drop in Netherlands, report finds

Anti-Semitic incidents recorded in the Netherlands dropped by nine percent this year, according to the annual monitor report by the country’s watchdog on anti-Semitism.

The Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, attributed the overall drop in recorded incidents to a decrease in the amount of hate mail reported.

However, the Hague-based organization registered a sharp rise in real-life anti-Semitic incidents – from 31 in 2010 to 55 last year.

In total, CIDI registered 113 anti-Semitic incidents in 2011, compared to 124 the previous year. CIDI found 18 cases of hate mail in 2011, compared to 47 in 2010.

The organization’s records for 2011 speak of 28 people who had suffered anti-Semitic, non-physical abuse on the street or in the public sphere. In 2009, CIDI learned of only 20 such incidents. That year saw anti-Semitism incidents of all categories skyrocketing worldwide in connection with Israel’s attack on Hamas in Gaza.

“There was no comparable external cause in 2011,” the CIDI report, compiled by researcher Elise Friedmann, said. The Netherlands has a Jewish population of some 40,000 people.

In 2010, CIDI recorded nine cases of in-person anti-Semitic confrontations. The threefold increase in 2011 is attributable to greater awareness to the need to report such incidents, according to a press release by CIDI.

“The Dutch government has been promising since 2008 to apply an improved and more uniform system for the registration of anti-Semitic and xenophobic incidents. To date, there are no signs of this,” CIDI said.

Dutch Police do not register or flag reports of xenophobic incidents at the time of deposition. Police compile their annual hate crime report by applying a search engine to the texts of all complaints.

CIDI has called this procedure “inadequate” and called on Dutch police to implement an immediate flag system, like the one used in Britain and elsewhere.