Dutch Entrepreneur Resigns From Right-Wing Broadcaster After Virulent Antisemitism Exposed
The chairman of a much-heralded right-wing broadcaster in the Netherlands has resigned amid a scandal over virulently antisemitic remarks he made on behalf of a far-right policy foundation that traffics in Holocaust denial and other conspiracy theories centered on Jews.
Taco Dankers, 56, resigned last Wednesday as chairman of the supervisory board of Ongehoord Nederland (ON!) — a right-wing channel that is scheduled to become part of the Dutch public broadcasting system in Jan. 2022.
Ongehoord Nederland, which means “Unheard Dutch,” bills itself as the voice of those Dutch citizens wary of the European Union, opposed to mass immigration, and committed to retaining controversial elements of Dutch culture such as “Zwarte Piet” — a Black “helper” to Santa Claus who appears during the Christmas holiday, when many white Dutch people don “blackface” to celebrate a tradition that has been widely slammed as racist.
An investigative report published last week by the Dutch news outlet NRC noted that Dankers, a successful IT entrepreneur, had maintained a steady rightward political drift since 2012.
In 2015, Dankers was one of the founders of Gefira, an erstwhile think-tank has actively promoted antisemitic conspiracy theories under the guise of concern about mass migration from the Middle East, Africa and Asia into Europe.
In a 2017 interview with the “Barnes Review” — an American Holocaust denial outfit named after Harry Elmer Barnes, a Nazi sympathizer and Holocaust revisionist — Dankers gave a full-throated endorsement of the “Great Replacement Theory,” a conspiracy theory which alleges that immigrants of color are displacing native whites in Europe and North America as a result of Jewish machinations. “The Rothschilds and the Jews are pushing a program,” Dankers declared. “They won’t succeed.”
Other accusations made by Dankers and Gefira included similarly unsubstantiated claims that Israel engineered the brutal civil war in Syria in order to flood Europe with refugees, and that 50 percent of the Dutch slave trade was owned and financed by Jews. The last assertion was denounced as “classic antisemitic propaganda” by Piet Emmer, the leading Dutch historical expert on slavery, in an interview with NRC.
Meanwhile, a separate statement from the Gefira Board in Feb. 2019 questioned whether Jews should be accepted as a religious minority in non-Jewish societies, according to NRC’s revelations.
“Why does a people — especially one that has a state of its own — insist on living in another country where they are not particularly loved?” the statement asked rhetorically.
Dankers has also enthusiastically endorsed racially-segregated societies. His Twitter feed has featured posts defending South Africa’s former white minority regime, including the claim that “apartheid arose because Africans were and are incapable of building a society themselves.” In another tweet, he opined: “Apartheid is much more common than you think. Pakistani workers are not allowed to enter the malls in Dubai and Qatar. Everyone likes it!”
Eddo Verdoner, the Dutch government’s national coordinator for combating antisemitism, told NRC that Dankers and Gefira had revived “centuries-old antisemitic parables.” Gefira’s manifesto, he added, “seems to come straight out of World War II.”
Following the NRC expose of his far-right activities, Dankers resigned from the board of ON!, saying that his continued presence would harm the broadcaster’s “important mission.”
At the same time, Dankers flatly denied being an antisemite or a racist.
“I do not recognize myself in the image the press paints of me and I distance myself in the strongest terms from antisemitism, racism and statements that lead to polarization, discrimination and hate speech,” he said in a statement.
On Monday, the Dutch Media Authority said it would not conduct its own investigation into Dankers, as doing so would exceed its legal mandate.
“All public broadcasters in the system must comply with the rules of the Media Act from the moment of joining the system. If it turns out that a broadcaster may be violating the rules of the Media Act, the Media Authority may consider opening an investigation,” a spokesperson for the body explained.
The Gefira website has been taken offline in the interim. However, the group still maintains a Twitter feed, largely consisting of posts warning about a mass influx of immigrants alongside endorsements of COVID-19 vaccine refusal demonstrations in several European countries.