BERLIN – Dutch public broadcasting network VPRO removed a game decried by human
rights groups as anti-Semitic from its website on Wednesday.
follows the publication of an exposé in The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday about the
game, which features Israeli settlers who use an “Anne Frank card” and “Jewish
stinginess” to colonize the West Bank.
According to a VPRO statement, “In
November 2010, the VPRO platform for younger viewers, Dorst, published on the
website and in the TV guide a satirical item, The Settlers of the West Bank, a
commentary over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict shaped in the form of a
well-known board game, The Settlers of Catan... The Settlers of the West Bank is
now, almost one year and half years later, the subject of discussion on whether
it contains elements of an anti- Semitic nature... The VPRO finds the political
question relevant and will obligingly discuss the borders of satire.
it has no desire or need to discuss alleged anti-Semitism through this
Therefore, the VPRO took off the game The Settlers of the West Bank
from the Dorst site.”
Ronny Naftaniel, the head of The Hague-based Center
for Information and Documentation on Israel, told the Post, “This game had to be
removed immediately when the first complaints about it were made. The game is
based on biases and is unacceptable for Dutch Jews and all Dutchmen. It’s just a
shame that VPRO is removing it after The Jerusalem Post wrote about it. VPRO
should have done it by themselves.”
In an email to the Post, Benjamin
Teuber, the director of marketing and business development for the Catan board
game company, wrote, “The Catan company, which is the licensed operator of The
Settlers of Catan, was not informed about this project and if we were, we would
not have issued approval. We expressly distance ourselves from its
He added that the game crossed over the border of respectable
satire, and that “it is regrettable that the Catan brand, which stands for
cooperation and peacefulness, was misused for such purposes.”
Visser, the head of Missing Peace and a Dutch-Israeli, wrote to the Post, saying
that “sadly the anti-Semitic VPRO publication is not an isolated matter.
Recently, we have also seen an anti-Semitic article about Israeli prenatal care
in the Dutch daily Trouw.
“This week, two major Dutch papers deliberately
distorted the facts about the escalation in southern Israel. Both the NRC [an
abbreviation for the New Rotterdam Paper] and the Volkskrant reported that
Israel fired 200 rockets into Gaza.
Therefore I think it’s high time for
a public debate about the way the Dutch media contributes to the demonization of
Israel and rising anti-Semitism in general,” Visser wrote.
Cooper, from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Post by email, “The historic
embedded anti- Semitic stereotypes combined with anti- Israel animus are a toxic
mix in much of Europe. That it took an exposé by The Jerusalem Post and a
protest by the Simon Wiesenthal Center to force the removal of this blatantly
anti-Semitic ‘game’ is a reflection of a broader reality in 2012 Europe: Classic
anti-Semitic stereotypes, shunned in polite society after the Shoah, are back in
mainstream vogue. They create an especially toxic combination when combined with
an anti-Israel animus.”