Dutch Christians boycott church over exhibit on jailed Palestinian children


UTRECHT, the Netherlands (JTA) — A group of Dutch Christians boycotted Utrecht’s Domkerk Church over an exhibition on jailed Palestinian children that they said encouraged anti-Semitism.

The exhibition, titled “Room No. 4,” was brought to the Domkerk — one of the Netherlands’ best-known churches and one of Utrecht’s tourist stops — by the Dutch Coalition for Palestinian Children in Israeli Detention.

The exhibition, which ended Sunday, featured pictures of adult models portraying Palestinian children who are suffering in Israeli detention facilities. The group announced its decision to boycott the exhibition for its duration earlier this month.

Among the boycotters was Hebe Kohlbrugge, a writer and a member of the Domkerk Church.

“Many people cannot differentiate between Israel and Jews,” Kohlbrugge told the Trouw daily newspaper. “People wearing kippot are being harassed over Israel’s actions. Thus criticism of Israel becomes anti-Semitism.”

Kohlbrugge also said that the church’s history of anti-Semitism makes it an unsuitable venue for criticizing Israel.

“Before you point fingers, better look at the ones pointing in your direction,” he added.

Jaap Hamburger, whose group belongs to the Dutch Coalition for Palestinian Children in Israeli Detention, wrote an Op-Ed on the news website joop.nl denying the exhibition encouraged anti-Semitism.

In the exposition, the church placed a board displaying members’ complaints against the exhibit, but said it decided to host it anyway because of its “commitment to children’s rights.”

The Liberal Jewish Community of Utrecht also condemned the hosting of the exhibition at the church.


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