Friday, March 04, 2005

Regarding "More Dutch calling it quits" and "Hidden Dutch legislators come out of hiding", IHT, February 28 and March 4, 2005: After having come here in 1992 to study in Jerusalem for one year, in 1995 I finally emigrated from Holland to Israel. Unlike most of those interviewed in your article I did not escape from anything in the land where I was born, having deliberately chosen to make Israel my new home. On average I visit my parents and siblings once a year, and I closely follow what goes on in the Netherlands and in Europe. Holland has changed during the last 13 years, and - like in Israel - few changes have been for the better, I am afraid. Polarization has become a keyword when it comes to socio-political developments. Of course we are talking about global phenomena, but for obvious reasons I happen to care particularly about Holland, once considered by many as some sort of paradise and a bastion of tolerance. Instead of the relatively small number of dangerous troublemakers being chased and properly dealt with, one whole part of Dutch society is being stigmatized, law-abiding and highly productive citizens start to feel the need to leave their homeland, and opinion makers and politicians ( with whom I hardly ever agree, which - a worn-out phrase in the Netherlands these days - of course is not a reason or excuse to hurt them ) are being threatened, forced into hiding and even murdered. The wife of an Islamist militant is not immediately persecuted when she openly threatens a parliamentarian. This is putting things on their heads, I think. Like all of its counterparts in the West, the Dutch government has a difficult task, having to navigate between guarding one of the main characteristics of Dutch society and protecting that same society against threats from without and within. Still, it must be aware of the fact that too much tolerance might in the end lead to tolerance becoming an impossibility.

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