Geert Wilders’ Mistake…

February 4, 2013 by Manfred Gerstenfeld
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Last week, Israeli Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger wrote a letter to Geert Wilders, the pro-Israel leader of the Dutch Freedom Party (PVV). The party’s platform for the upcoming parliamentary elections on 12 September includes the prohibition of ritual slaughter.

Manfred Gertsenfeld

Manfred Gertsenfeld

Its parliamentarian Dion Graus also intends to continue his failed past efforts to forbid the import of ritually slaughtered meat.

Rabbi Metzger wrote that Graus has taken the classic antisemitic position of targeting Jewish rites as done over the centuries. He added: “One cannot be at the same time a friend of Israel and the Jewish people and on the other hand support an anti-Jewish law and be friends with Mr. Dion Graus.”

Wilders, the only Dutch politician known internationally, has acquired a justified reputation for major support of Israel. He has said that Jihad is not only against Israel, but targets the entire Western world. The current PVV platform also states that Jordan is Palestine. Yet last year already, Wilders’ image in the Jewish world took a severe beating.

On the prohibition of unstunned ritual slaughter, the PVV supported the extreme positions of the small populist Party for the Animals. In Parliament, Graus called ritual slaughter ‘ritual torture.’ He furthermore turned the Jews into a political instrument by falsely claiming that his party was not anti-Islam because the ritual slaughter law would also hurt the Jews.

In June 2012, a covenant on unstunned ritual slaughter was reached with difficulty between Muslims, Jews and the Dutch government. This led to tensions in the Dutch Orthodox Jewish community between rabbinical and lay leaders. Yet most Jews were glad that this major threat to Jewish identity seemed over.

Prohibiting ritual slaughter has not come up in current Dutch election debates. Yet in past weeks, this issue has drawn much media attention in the Netherlands, Israel and also among organized Jewry in the United States. The Amsterdam Orthodox community has declared that it considers Graus “a danger for the Jewish communities in the Netherlands and Europe.”

Populist attitude
Former PVV Parliamentarian Wim Kortenoeven has alerted major US Jewish organizations. He was the only one of his party to vote against the proposed anti-ritual slaughter law last year. He left the PVV in early July. Kortenoeven says that several of his colleagues supported his position, but caved in under pressure from Wilders.

The first American Jewish organization to challenge the PVV on the ritual slaughter issue already in 2011 was the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Now, its Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper wrote again to Wilders requesting he drop the issue from PVV’s platform. In his answer, Wilders claimed that anti-Semites will not be tolerated in his party and that Graus was not one. Rabbi Cooper was not convinced and wrote a second letter which remains unanswered.

This conflict made the front page of the largest Dutch daily de Telegraaf. The article also claimed that US Jews had been financing Wilders because of his pro-Israel positions and this was now at risk as the PVV was attacking one of the most fundamental rituals of the Jewish religion. Little proof was given to substantiate the Jewish financing. Far more important is that Wilders has been warmly received in major pro-Israel Evangelical Christian communities in the United States. This is unlikely to continue now.

Why would Wilders threaten important American relationships by insisting on a marginal issue such as prohibiting ritual slaughter? The most probable explanation is that this is one more indication of the populist way he often operates.

Wilders’ initial success derived from having identified two crucial issues for the future of The Netherlands neglected by others. He identified the threat extremist Islam posed to the future of democracies and also realized that the democracy-deficient European integration in some critical fields had dangerously run ahead unchecked. He translated these issues into populist campaign slogans which gave the PVV 24 out of 150 parliamentary seats in the 2010 election.

The PVV however, did not upgrade to a professional party as it should have. It still has no research organization. It rarely details any proposal in great depth. From time to time, Wilders tosses out extreme remarks which do not help his two major political aims. Though frequently warned, he has ignored the problems which his position on the ritual slaughter issue could cause, mainly among foreign supporters.

Had Wilders professionalized his political approach, there was a good chance he could win the upcoming elections. The problems due to uncontrolled European integration, as well as the violence of extremist Islam have aggravated further and are now exposed for everyone to see.

The longer Wilders’ populist attitude continues on many other issues, the less valuable his pro-Israel positions will be for Israel. At the same time, the PVV being in the forefront of antisemitic proposals on a crucial issue for Jews, will not be overlooked.

Manfred Gerstenfeld is a member of the Board of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, of which he has been chairman for 12 years.

Geert Wilders is scheduled to speak in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney later this month.

This article was published on Y-Net in April 2012


5 Responses to “Geert Wilders’ Mistake…”
  1. Danny says:

    Few politicians are as pro-Jewish and pro-Israel as Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch Freedom Party PVV. The 49-year old Wilders, who lives under round-the-clock police protection because of Islamist death threats, has visited Israel over 40 times. In his recent book Marked for Death: Islam’s War against the West and Me, Wilders, who was raised a Catholic, relates how he lived and worked in Israel for one year as a young man and how he admires the Jews and their state.
    Geert Wilders also leads the fight against anti-Semitism in the Netherlands — and in Europe. Two years ago, the senior Dutch politician Frits Bolkestein advised “recognizable Jews” to leave the Netherlands and emigrate to Israel and the U.S. because of the Dutch government’s inability to prevent the anti-Semitic violence committed by Jew-hating Muslim immigrants. An indignant Wilders reacted that “Jews shouldn’t emigrate; anti-Semitic immigrants should.”
    Animal rights is a big issue for the Dutch. There is even an Animal Rights political party. Voting in the matter of unstunned animal slaughter of any kind was declared a conscience vote in Wilder’s PVV party. The Netherlands is one of the last countries in Europe to debate this ban.
    To suggest that Wilders is in any way anti Semitic or anti Israel is worse than labelling our prime minister, Gillard, who is and has been a staunch friend and supporter of the Jewish Nation since her youth, with the same libel because of the anti Israel sentiments of the Left wing of the Labor Party, with Carr leading the charge. No faction of the PVV holds such a position.
    Israel has few friends let alone politicians who so staunchly, even at the risk of losing votes, stand up for her. It is worse than folly for Jews to discredit them.

  2. pam says:

    I too am disappointed that Wilders has come out so strongly against kosher slaughter, when there is abundant evidence that it is more humane than electrical stunning. There are various articles to support this, which quote evidence by experts with no axe to grind:

    If people truly are concerned about animal slaughter, they should become vegetarians.

    So it is puzzling why he chooses to alienate Orthodox Jews in this way. Maybe his anti-Islam stance drives him to ban a method of slaughter that they use (but without the concern to treat the animals humanely, which results in the stringent safeguards employed in kosher slaughter).

    Or maybe he realises that Jews are such a small minority that it’s best to go along and try to please the majority of Dutch people.

    Whatever the reason, it seems unnecessary for him to focus on this comparatively minor matter, when there are many more important issues revolving round Islam and the diminution of our freedoms.

  3. Michael says:


    Shirlee ,Geert Wilders is undeniably a strong supporter of Israel and has been there over 40 times. In fact he has lost a lot of support in Holland purely because he stands up so passionately for Israel and has even been threatened because of this support Unlike the Jewish left and progressives who more support the Palestinian / Arab/ Muslim narrative and constant criticism of Israel.
    This Kosher issue is an old one I enclose some material on this matter below.
    It is very unwise and not very street smart for Jews here in Australia to get on the Muslim bandwagon and criticize Wilders when Wilders and the Jews have mutual enemies. Although I can imagine Leftists and anti Zionists like ADC, AJDS, IAJV, NIF, JSreet , ACJC and all the others with similar worldly views joining the Religion of Peace people {the same ones who bring out a conga line of extremist anti- Semitic clerics who vilify and incite hatred towards Jews] to protest against Wilders realistic view on what is happening in his part of the world.
    Jews have no friends in Europe if Jews are to demonize Wilders and only play into the hands of the Arabs and Muslims we Jews deserve to be losing the PR war that’s for sure.
    By the way whilst Wilders is a Popular politician in Holland the Palestinians have some very nasty bedfellows and supporters which include the very extremist Socialist thugs Socialist Alternative, Neo Nazis who have marched along side Palestinian protestors and Holocaust deniers {Adelaide Institute etc for example]
    Notwithstanding all this the Palestinians still receive all the support from our media, Trade Unions, Academia, Lawyers, Barristers, red Cross, Salvos ,you name it makes no difference .
    If Our Jewish leaders are smart they will look at the big picture and not be so naive to ignore our strongest support in Europe.
    BTW the same org that is bringing out Wilders were the only group that supported Jewish residents In St- Kilda that didn’t want a Mosque in their backyard. Of Course the lefties at ADC supported the Muslims.

    Please see this material

    Here is some background information on the Kosher issue with Wilders {BTW many Jews in the Diaspora and Israel are divided on this issue ]

  4. geoffff says:


    If his party’s platform included the banning of all ritual slaughter, except kosher slaughter, on the basis it has been established as humane, that would solve the issue I should think for his foreign supporters. Nor could such a law be said to be necessarily targeting Muslims. After all what about witchcraft?

    A bit glib I know but it does leave open the possibility of halal being acceptable if the slaughterers lifted their game..

    I did this issue to death, so to speak, with an animal rights activist and the usual suspects at the now defunct Webdiary a year or two ago here.

    There’s plenty of research out there including this

    Mind you. Recent events in Israel do not help the case

  5. Shirlee says:

    I find this interesting from a man who claims to be such a strong supporter of Israel and Jews.
    I’ve asked the organisers and others I know who are attending meetings to pose the question to him of WHY? to him

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