Wiesenthal Center blasts ‘flawed’ Dutch Mideast report

Holland’s PM is urged to disband advisory council behind document that ‘maligns and demonizes’ Israel

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has called on Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to reject a government report on the Middle East conflict that it said paints Israel as the sole aggressor, and asked him to disband the body that created it. The Dutch parliament in The Hague is set to debate the report on Tuesday.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Wiesenthal Center’s associate dean, said the report was a “fatally flawed” document that “maligns and demonizes the Jewish state,” in a letter to Dutch PM Mark Rutte, the Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a statement Friday.

The report, “Between Words and Deeds: Prospects for a Sustainable Peace in the Middle East,” was published in March by the Dutch parliament’s Advisory Council on International Affairs. It has also been harshly criticized by pro-Israeli Dutch politicians, who charged that it is rife with factual errors and unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinians. Among other alleged shortcomings, critics bemoaned the report’s call for sanctions against Israel over settlement activity while supporting talks with Hamas and omitting any reference to Palestinian terrorism.

“Beyond its multitude of factual errors,” Cooper continued, “this document in effect calls on the Netherlands to distance itself from the Middle East’s only democracy, Israel, and get closer to a terrorist group, Hamas, whose founding document invokes ‘The Protocols of [the Elders of] Zion’ as a basis to carry out a genocide against Israel’s six million Jewish citizens.”

After its publication, the report drew a harsh responses from Jerusalem, which has traditionally maintained close ties with the Netherlands.

“I must conclude that this has to be a fake report. Either that, or a particularly daft parody of a ‘typical European Middle East policy’ report,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, wrote to The Times of Israel in July. “Were this a real position document, it would not have made so many elementary mistakes in its basic assumptions. This error-rich flatbed engenders, by logical deduction, a whole set of expectedly misled and misguided analytical statements, which in turn bring the text to some uproarious conclusions.”

The Netherlands is considered one of Jerusalem’s closest allies in Europe, being the only country on the continent to list both the military and civilian wings of Hezbollah as terrorist organizations.

The Dutch embassy in Ramat Gan refused to comment either on the report or Palmor’s response, referring to the Foreign Ministry in The Hague. But ministry spokesman Ward Bezemer also opted to remain silent. “I’m afraid we’re not interested to react,” he wrote in an email to The Times of Israel.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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