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Monday, March 01, 2004

Where were the Dutch Jews when Israel was on trial at the Hague?

It was mostly Christians who stood for Israel
JPost: "Are we cowards?" asked an opinion piece which ran this Friday in Holland's weekly Jewish newspaper, Nieuw Israelietisch Weekblad. It took the community to task for failing to arrive en mass to demonstrate in front of The Hague last week, as the International Court of Justice spent three days listening to arguments against Israel's security barrier now under construction.

Jews from Israel, the United States, and other parts of Europe flocked to the triangular square in front of the Peace Palace in protest. A number of Dutch rabbis and organizations, including the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, worked to organize demonstrations, but for the most part the Dutch Jews were absent.

Instead, marching with the international Jewish contingent on Monday morning were 2,000 Dutch Christian supporters of Israel, led by the international group, Christians for Israel, which started in Holland 25 years ago.

"Our founding father had the impression in the end of the 1970s that the love for Israel was decreasing between the Christians in Holland; that is the only reason he started Christians for Israel, to increase the feelings for love and the relationship with the state and the people of Israel," said its chairman Rev. Jaap de Vreugd. Their group raises several million Euros to support immigration and welfare projects in Israel. In the Netherlands they run seminars and classes on Israel as well as a newsletter. De Vreugd said members of his group are missionaries of new sort. Their aim is to swim against the tide of pro-Palestinian public sentiment by helping Christians learn to love Israel.

"Our first aim is to make Christians more understanding about their own relationship with Israel," said de Vreugd. The Christian community in the Netherlands was sympathetic to Israel until the 1970s and then the pendulum of sympathy shifted toward the Palestinians, he said.

. . . In the last 10 to 20 years, people became less pro-Israel and more pro-Palestinian, he said. The growing population of Muslims in Holland, which now numbers upwards of 900,000 also contributes to the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish feelings among the population, he said.

"This is the atmosphere we live in and in this atmosphere we try to raise our voices, as standing with Israel out of our Christian faith, and our belief in the Bible," said de Vreugd. "We see that anti-Semitism is increasing and growing and we want to raise our voices against all these things," he said.