Geert Wilders: “Europe must wake up to the threat of anti-Semitism”

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, Geert Wilders, founder and leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, said that to stop the growing anti-Semitism in the Netherlands and Europe, political leaders must put an end to mass immigration with open borders and reverse the failure of cultural relativism to promote integration. He also explained that his support for Israel is based on the broader defense of Western values.

After six months of negotiations, Prime Minister Dick Schoff’s coalition was sworn in on Tuesday with the support of the Freedom Party (PVV), which won the largest number of seats in the 2023 Dutch general election with a campaign focused on immigration policy.

According to Wilders, the very same issues, “the mass immigration policy and the open borders policy,” are the source of the rising levels of anti-Semitism in Europe. This policy was harmfully combined with “one of the greatest failings of our societies, cultural relativism,” which held the view that “for reasons of political correctness” all cultures are considered equal and any criticism or behavior within a culture is unacceptable.

“If we always open our borders, we will never ask people to fully integrate into society, they (immigrants) will not speak our language and they will treat women or Jews or homosexuals or others in a way that we will not accept,” Wilders said. “We closed our eyes and looked the other way.”

Wilders said that the increasing anti-Semitic incidents would not stop without a change in policy, which is why it was so important that his coalition was in government. The rise in anti-Semitism, as in many European countries, followed the October 7 massacre, which Wilders pointed to as evidence of growing extremist and anti-Semitic sentiments, especially among immigrant populations.

A pro-Palestinian demonstration in Amsterdam (Photo: Reuters)

“We saw so many people marching in the streets, from Vienna to Paris, from Amsterdam to Berlin and London, and millions of them supported extremist groups – not Palestinians – but Hamas and (Palestinian) Islamic Jihad in our streets,” Wilders said. “We didn’t even know that so many people who support their ideology were in Europe, and it was a kind of sign of awakening, and it was one of the reasons my party won the elections, because people saw that what we were actually talking about was not a legend, but happening and present in our society.”

Wilders was well acquainted with violent Islamic radicalism, having had to live with high-level security in the face of 20 years of fatwas and death threats. While strongly stressing that not all Dutch Muslims are extremists, Wilders said surveys indicated disturbing beliefs among a significant number of Muslims in the Netherlands. Large percentages would not consider friendships with Jews, and many supported the importance of Sharia law over civil law.

“It’s a huge amount and we have to accept it and then deal with it,” Wilders said, making it necessary to establish a red line of pro-integration behavior and principles.

“If you obey our laws, if you live in cooperation with our society, if you do not fight our values, and again, do not break the laws, then you are equally welcome as anyone else in our society, you can achieve anything you want, You can become a member of parliament, you can go far in business, and there are no limits to the possibilities if you fit in with us like everyone else,” Wilders said. “If you start using violence or being anti-Semitic or doing anything else, we won’t accept it.”

Wilders supported passing tougher legislation against those “increasing amounts” of people who were against Dutch values ​​to protect society and democracy. One policy the top Dutch political figure sought was to make it easier for felons and non-citizens to lose residency permits and be deported. Wilders also wanted a stronger assimilation of Western values ​​and the teaching of Dutch history in schools to combat extremism.

Geert Wilders (Photo: Reuters)

“Many teachers in our schools are afraid to teach about World War II and the Holocaust because they are afraid of what might happen – that they won’t be able to control the children in their classrooms and that the parents will be angry,” Wilders said. “We need to start even in our schools, to be honest and talk about the effects of Nazism, the Holocaust, and anti-Semitism and many other things that are not talked about today. In many schools, not only in the Netherlands, in the European Union, this is a sign of weakness.”

Wilders said there was a non-partisan consensus on the need to fight anti-Semitism. This included support from the opposition, although some did not make the connection between antisemitism and cultural relativism and immigration.

Europe as a whole is slowly waking up to the challenges of immigration and integration, Wilders said. While in the last European elections we saw the French far-right National Union (RN) party ultimately fail to gain more seats than the left-wing New Popular Front, and the British Labor Party won a majority in the government to replace the Conservative Party, the Dutch politician still saw an overall success for the political right.

“I believe the most you can go is slowly but gradually, and things change for the better,” Wilders said, but lamented that it was going “too slowly to fight anti-Semitism… We should have moved faster.”

Wilders had to negotiate for six months with three other parties after the PVV won the election, and a compromise was required. There was no European country other than Hungary that had a majority right-wing government, but he still saw progress across Europe, from Austria to Belgium. Even in France and Britain, Wilders saw success. Marine Le Pen’s RN and Nigel Farage’s British Reform Party received massive popular support, but due to the structure of electoral methods, this did not necessarily translate into seats. While there may not have been an increase in political power, the right won more hearts and minds.

In France, as in other elections with a competitive right wing, the National Association has faced its anti-Semitic past. Wilders emphasized that his party was “from day one” a friend of Israel and the Jewish people, even when it received counter reactions from more right-wing elements. Not only did he claim that the PVV was never hers.

By Editor