Rotterdam Allows Pro-Hamas Conference, Blocks Anti-Hamas Protest
A Hamas front group hosted a conference in Rotterdam on Saturday, and the Dutch authorities blocked pro-Israel activists from protesting the event, according to a Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) report.
The Palestinian Return Center (PRC) — which was banned in Israel in 2010 for its Hamas ties — organized the “Palestinians in Europe” conference, which attracted a few hundred people. In a statement released ahead of the conference, Israel’s embassy in the Netherlands voiced “great concern” about the event, and identified the PRC as a Hamas front organization. Israeli embassies rarely issue comments or statements concerning similar events abroad.
The PRC conference featured speakers like Dyab Abou Jahjah, who has a history of anti-Israel and antisemitic statements. He was fired by the Flemish newspaper De Standaard earlier this year after praising a truck ramming in Jerusalem that killed four IDF soldiers.
“I know there are officers of justice in the room, waiting to write down things. Let me tell you from now on: I have no problem supporting the Palestinian resistance against occupation by any means necessary,” Jahjah said at the event on Saturday.
His call for violence against Israelis generated loud applause. In the past, Jahjah has referred to the Belgian city of Antwerp as the “international capital of the Zionist lobby.”
Meanwhile, the Dutch government denied a petition to protest the conference by the group Christians for Israel — a move that was condemned by some Dutch politicians.
“It defies logic that people are free to preach for subjugation, whereas a peaceful group like Christians for Israel is banned from performing a silent protest,” Dutch politician Joel Voordewind said in a statement.
Rotterdam’s mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb, refused to prohibit the PRC event, despite requests from Jewish community officials.
The German government has previously referred to the PRC as an affiliate of Hamas. “Hamas does not operate openly in Europe. Instead it uses, for instance, the Palestinian Return Center in London as a forum,” the German Ministry of Interior said in a 2011 report.
Aside from the PRC conference, widespread support for Islamism was expressed in Rotterdam over the weekend.
After Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won that country’s historic constitutional referendum on Sunday, his supporters approached the Turkish Consulate in Rotterdam to celebrate the Islamist leader’s consolidation of power. An overwhelming majority (71 percent) of Dutch-Turks who participated in the referendum voted in favor of Erdogan’s position, which will accelerate Islamist encroachment throughout Turkey.