Geert Wilders & Israel; the integrity of Dutch journalism

The morning of December 2nd, Dutch leading and traditionally left wing newspaper ‘de Volkskrant’ published two extensive articles about PVV-leader Geert Wilders. They found out that Dutch Intelligence Services (AIVD) investigated Wilders in 2009-2010 regarding his relations with Israel. His loyalty was called into question as well to what extent he was being influenced by his Israeli connections. A sensitive topic one might think just a few months before election time and with Wilders leading in the polls.

Regardless, Wilders’ affection for Israel is well known. He lived in Israel for a while, has excellent relations with prominent Israeli politicians and officials, often visits the Israeli Embassy in The Hague, and is very opinionated regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The relevance of this news mainly relies in the fact that the Netherlands and Israel are close allies and that the AIVD investigated Geert Wilders at all. An unique situation and as far as we know unprecedented in the post-Cold War period.  But besides the fact that the investigation was being conducted, not much is known. Was the investigation really about Wilders’ loyalty? Didn’t the AIVD just want to know more about some of his contact persons? What were the conclusions? Aren’t The Netherlands and Israel strong allies? And what about the legitimacy of the investigation? Guusje ter Horst, Minister of the Interior at the Time, had forbidden any investigation into Dutch politicians. Enough questions remain to fill the rest of the article.

‘De Volkskrant’ decided differently. They didn’t answer any of those questions and preferred to write about why Wilders was and is looking so suspicious, not just for the AIVD in 2009-2010, but in general. The majority of both texts was about Wilder’s history with Israel, the people he was or is close to, and how a couple of Dutch Jews were involved in the PVV. Everyone around Wilders somehow seemed to be a Mossad-agent. Suspicions enough, accusations in abundance, but the actual facts and prove remain absent. The content of both articles can be summarized by the words of an AIVD-analyst who was quoted. He said that Wilders’ words and ideas were suspiciously similar to those of Israel: “Exactly the same analyses, the same world view, the same text. I have said internally many times; Guys, this cannot be a coincidence anymore. There has to be something. But I cannot prove it. Worse still, I don’t even have the beginning of evidence that Wilders is a pawn of Israel”. A lot of big words to say nothing at all.

The Netherlands and Israel are close allies, they work together on many fronts including intelligence, but that is not the impression you get when reading these articles. Israel is put away as a rogue state, in the likes of Russia and Turkey, simply looking for ways to influence Dutch politics. But still, this all happened in 2009-2010. How can this be relevant or confronting for upcoming elections? The journalists do state that Wilders is not so strongly involved with Israeli officials as before because he and his party mainly stayed in parliamentary opposition. The Israeli are described as pragmatic and his distance from actual power made him way less interesting. But what happens if Wilders wins the next elections? What happens if Wilders ends up in the government? What if he even becomes prime minister? It is difficult to see these articles out of the context of election time. We get the impression of a dubious state and a dubious politician playing some sinister game.

In short, two extensive articles are necessary to come to the conclusion that there is no prove for the accusations suggested by ‘De Volkskrant’, and noone else, but that the AIVD had nonetheless every reason to put Wilders’ loyalty and integrity into question. There is not the slightest form of evidence Wilders is a pawn of Israel, but the suspicions are apparently somehow legit. The results are two very politically motivated articles. I have nothing with the PVV or Wilders but after reading these articles in a leading and left wing newspaper the only question I ask myself is what the future entails if this kind of journalism remains unquestioned.

 

This article, just as any other on this blog, solely reflects the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of the Graduates of Democracy as a whole.

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