There is widespread fear that the annual Dutch Auschwitz commemorations in Amsterdam will be disrupted by anti-Jewish demonstrations this Sunday. And Dutch prime minister Balkenende has invited islamic organisations to participate in the memorial service.
Balkenende 's media office also announced that talks were held with various Islamic organisations in The Netherlands yesterday about the many calls which were issued this week -- specifically amongst radical youths from Morocco who call on their compatriots to disrupt the annual holocaust memorial day in The Netherlands.
Various moderate Dutch muslim organisations have however agreed to join in the sombre commemorative service to honour the great many innocent people who died in the holocaust conducted by the Nazis against European Jews and Gypsies. Of the 140,000 Dutch Jews on the eve of WWII (1.6% of the Dutch population), 107,000 were deported by the Nazis. Only 5,500 survivors returned to the Netherlands after 1945. Approximately 24,000 Dutch Jews went into hiding; 8,000 of those were caught.
This annual service commemorates the many Jewish people who have died in the Auschwitz gas chambers - and has nothing to do with the current Israeli Hamas conflict, Dutch leaders such as Integration minister Eberhard van der Laan again pointed out this week.
The service starts at 11.30am at the National Auschwitz Monument in the Wertheimpark of Amsterdam - also called the 'mirror memorial' -- to commemorate the liberation by the Soviet Union's First Army of the destruction camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland on 27 January 1945. see
Over 1,3 million people lost their lives at Auschwitz, which was the largest of the string of Nazi death camps. Ninety percent of these victims were Jews and the remainder were Polish. Hundreds of thousands of the victims were children.
Many Dutch Jews who were deported from the Netherlands, including Anne Frank and her family, traveled through Westerbork, a transit camp that came under German control in 1943. At this camp, Jews were divided into two categories depending on their ability to work and then sent to camps such as Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Terezin, or Sobibor. see
Dutch integration minister Eberhard van der Laan said he is deeply concerned about the growing conflict between the Jewish and Islamic organisations in The Netherlands. He fears that 'the hatred in the Middle-East is spreading to the religious minorities in The Netherlands'. "We must prevent that the explosive situation in the Middle East gets imported into the Netherlands.The dialogue is becoming increasingly difficult and is not making the finding of a solution any easier,' he said.
He referred to a great many incidents recently which are worsening relations among the Dutch citizens, such as a recent demonstration in Amsterdam during which Muslims were filmed chanting, "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas'. see VIDEO
The Jewish Moroccan Network - designed to encourage debate between the two religious groups -- also recently collapsed because of the tensions from the Middle-East, he noted. Muslim organisations also are demanding that the Dutch government stops siding with Israel in the 2,000-year-old Middle-Eastern battleground.
The Dutch cabinet members all have expressed 'deep concern' over the growing number of anti-Jewish incidents, including attacks against a leading rabbi in Amsterdam, over the Israeli invasion of Gaza. SEE OUR PREVIOUS REPORT
Moderate youth groups at the University of Amsterdam such as Menara are critical of 'Moroccan youths who destroy floral wreaths at The Dam memorial during the commemorative service for the holocaust dead.'
"They identify with the Palestinians and cannot see the holocaust memorial service as separate from the current Israeli-Hamas conflict at all,' these youths say.