THE HAGUE (JTA) — Representatives of three prominent American Jewish groups denied Dutch media reports that they had funded Geert Wilders, the Dutch anti-Muslim politician.
The De Telegraaf daily and other Dutch media attributed the funding allegations to another Dutch lawmaker, Wim Kortenoeven, who parted ways with Wilder’s Freedom Party last month.
But Kortenoeven told JTA that Dutch media misreported his remarks and that he had never said that the American Jewish groups funded Wilders, only that they "supported" Wilders’ views on Israel.
"We are talking about organizations that may have helped Wilders out by organizing fundraising events here and there, and perhaps with some publicity," Kortenoeven told JTA.
Earlier this month, Kortenoeven said he met with representatives of the groups — the Anti-Defamation League, the Zionist Organization of America and the Orthodox Union — to talk about Wilders’ support for a law that would ban kosher slaughter in the Netherlands. The law, proposed by an animal welfare party, would ban all slaughter of fully conscious, large animals — a move that in effect would outlaw Muslim halal slaughter as well as kosher slaughter, or shechitah.
Critics say Wilders supports the law because of its restrictions on Muslim slaughter; Wilders has compared the Koran to Adolf Hitler’s "Mein Kampf" and has called the Muslim prophet Mohammed the devil. He is also a staunch Israel supporter and has declared his commitment to "Judeo-Christian values."
An ADL spokesman told JTA that the organization does not support Wilders on any issue and is highly critical of him, and that the meeting with Kortenoeven was about shechitah.
A representative of the OU confirmed the recent meeting with Kortenoeven but declined to comment on its subject. The ADL and ZOA also denied sending any funds to Wilders or his party.
It is "highly unlikely, if not impossible, that anyone officially connected to the ZOA raised money on Mr. Wilders’ behalf," said David Drimer, the ZOA’s executive director. "Mr. Wilders’ support for a ban on ritual slaughter is disturbing but does not fall within the ZOA’s mission."
Wilders told JTA that Kortenoeven’s comments were "nonsense and agitation by a spiteful former member” of the party.