THE HAGUE, 06/01/09 - The Socialist Party (SP) denies that it is inciting to terrorism against Israel even though its MP Harry van Bommel appealed for an intifada during a demonstration on Saturday.
A demonstration against Israel was held on Saturday in the Museumplein in Amsterdam. Van Bommel, who acted as a cheerleader, repeatedly initiated the slogan "Intifada, Intifada, Palestine free". Incidentally, at the same time, the rhyme "Hamas, Jews deserve gas," could be heard in the background.
Fellow MPs were critical of Van Bommel. "People who encourage violence against Israeli civilians provoke repugnance and lose their credibility as representatives of the people," claimed conservative (VVD) MP Hans van Baalen. Joel Voordewind of the socialist Christian party ChristenUnie agreed that Van Bommel was out of bounds by supporting a new Palestinian intifada, "which means an armed rebellion" in his view. Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders said that Van Bommel had "shown his true, extremist face".
Van Bommel has no intention of apologising. "People object to words but close their eyes to violent deeds (...) An intifada can take many forms, from civil disobedience to violence. The Palestinians have the right to protest against the occupation by Israel. The form of opposition is their own choice (...) I support the protests against the invasion, as long as these protests are non-violent," Van Bommel explained.
SP parliamentary leader Agnes Kant also strongly denied that the party was guilty of incitement to terrorism. In a speech during the demonstration, Van Bommel had condemned Palestinian violence, she stressed. Kant did reveal that she had spoken to her party colleague about his behaviour. "I would not have acted this way, because it leads to misunderstandings. Unlike the cabinet, we as SP condemn all violence."
A police spokesman counted between 1000 and 1500 demonstrators, while a spokesman for the organisers referred to "thousands of participants" from about 25 organisations ranging from the International Socialists to the Turkish-Islamic organisation Milli Görus and the Council for Moroccan Mosques in the Netherlands.
The police arrested a woman for incitement to hatred and discrimination because she was carrying a banner stating that Israel was repeating the Holocaust with the support of the Netherlands. A man was also arrested for incitement to sedition.
A participant in the demonstration was ICCO, an organisation that receives many millions of euros each year from Development Cooperation Minister Bert Koenders. The chairman of ICCO is Doekle Terpstra, who is also a member of the supervisory board for the public broadcasting organisations.
Geert Wilders' PVV has demanded that the government stop subsidising ICCO and that Terpstra lose his watchdog position in relation to the public broadcasters. "Someone with such extreme views has insufficient credibility" in this job, the party claimed.
(NIS News Bulleten)