A Muslim author who has allegedly expressed negative sentiments about Dutch Jews and Israel has been named as the keynote speaker at The Netherland’s Remembrance of the Dead event.
The National Committee which organises the annual commemoration announced last week that Moroccan-born Abdelkader Benali will deliver the address at this year’s main memorial ceremony in Amsterdam. Held on 4th May and attended by King Willem-Alexander and other dignitaries, it is the day when the nation remembers its fallen soldiers and the victims of Nazism, who include 102,000 Dutch Jews.
According to a 2010 article published in the HP de Tijd weekly by Harald Doornbos, a respected Dutch journalist, Mr Benali expressed antisemitic views in July 2006 in Beirut, Lebanon, during a conversation between the two. Mr Doornbos, a specialist on the Muslim world, wrote “Benali let loose”, and quoted Mr Benali as allegedly saying that southern Amsterdam “is full of Jews. And that’s annoying that there are so many of them. Amsterdam Jews. Makes you feel uneasy as a Moroccan. It looks like Israel. So many Jews, it just feels crazy.”
In a 2009 opinion piece published in the Volkskrant newspaper, Mr Benali called Gaza a “ghetto.” According to the International Definition of Antisemitism, comparing Israel’s actions to those of the Nazis is an example of antisemitism.
This is not the first controversy for the organisers: in 2017, after naming rapper Emerson Akachar as “ambassador for peace,” it emerged that a year before he had been filmed shouting “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas” during a soccer match. The committee revoked the honour. In 2012, meanwhile, a poem describing an SS soldier as “a victim of World War II” was pulled after sparking protests.