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Mayor Of Hilversum Pieter Broertjes Equates Muslims Leaving To Join ISIS To Jews Who Left For Palestine After WWII

October 27, 2014

Dutch Mayor: 'Jihadis Are Like Jews Who Left for Palestine'
Mayor of Hilvrsum: 'Holland should not prevent citizens from leaving for Syria, just as it didn't stop Jews from immigrating to Palestine.' Cynthia Blank

A Dutch mayor was quoted as saying that the government in Holland should not prevent or oppose Islamists from leaving for Syria to fight for the Islamic State, just as it allowed Jews immigrate to pre-state Israel after World War II, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported Friday.

Pieter Broertjes, the mayor of Hilvrsum - a small, affluent community near Amsterdam, considered Netherland's media capital - made the comparison on Thursday, during an interview for Radio 1.

The theme of the broadcast was about possibly confiscating the passports of jihadists.

In September, Broertjes, a politician in the Dutch Labor party and the former editor-in-chief of the highbrow Volkskrant daily, heard that a family with four underage children had left for Syria to join ISIS.

He responded by saying. "You have to have a good reason to take a passport. Someone must have committed a criminal offense. And you don't know if someone is going there for war."

Broertjes was asked during this particular interview whether he thought jihadists leaving to fight in Syria and Iraq should be prevented from departing the country.

He answered that he opposed such steps, and added: ""It comes down to adults. Dutchmen after World War II went to Israel to fight the English. We didn't prevent them then."

The interview sent shockwaves through the country (and the Jewish world), particularly as Broerjes's comment came only two months after a remark by another member of his party, who described ISIS on Twitter as a "Zionist plot."

The interview sparked outrage and prompted a litany of responses.

Esther Voet, the director of the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI) - one of Holland's largest Jewish human rights organizations - reacted with disgust to the comparison by calling it "ridiculous" on Twitter.

Elbert Dijkgraaf, a lawmaker for the conservative Reformed Political Party in Tweede Kamer, the Dutch parliament's lower house, said Broertjes' statement was "astonishing" and "devoid of any understanding of historical context."

A spokesperson for the municipality of Hilversum, who was interviewed about Broertjes' comparison by the local Gooi-en Eemlander paper apologized and tried to downplay the incident as "unfortunate" but nothing more.

"What Broertjes wanted to say was that government just can't forbid people to settle elsewhere for whatever reason. That's the point he wanted to make. He made a blunt comparison and that was unfortunate."

Broertjes himself did not respond to the criticism and is not available for further comment on the issue, Dutch media reported.

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