THE HAGUE, Netherlands (JTA) — A Dutch mayor said Holland should not prevent Islamists from leaving for Syria just as it let Jews immigrate to pre-state Israel.
Pieter Broertjes, the mayor of Hilvresum — a small, affluent municipality near Amsterdam that is considered to be the country’s media capital — made the comparison on Thursday during an interview with Radio 1.
Later that day, a municipal spokesperson called the comparison “unfortunate.”
In the interview, Broertjes, a politician for Dutch Labor and former editor-in-chief of the highbrow Volkskrant daily, was asked whether he thought jihadists who are leaving to fight in Syria and Iraq should be prevented from departing.
He opposed such steps, adding: “Dutchmen after World War II went to Israel to fight the English. We didn’t prevent them then.”
Esther Voet, the director of the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, reacted to the comparison by calling it “ridiculous” on Twitter. And Elbert Dijkgraaf, a lawmaker for the conservative Reformed Political Party in the Tweede Kamer, the Dutch parliament’s lower house, said it was “astonishing” and “devoid of any understanding of historical context.”
Interviewed about Broertjes’ comparison by the local Gooi-en Eemlander paper, a spokesperson for the municipality of Hilversum said: “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 was not available for further comment on the issue, Dutch media reported.