Dutch public TV pulls ‘anti-Semitic’ game from site

Decision follows 'Post' exposé on game in which settlers use an “Anne Frank card," “Jewish stinginess” to colonize West Bank.

March 16, 2012 01:22
2 minute read.
Settlers of the West Bank board game

Settlers of the West Bank 370. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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BERLIN – Dutch public broadcasting network VPRO removed a game decried by human rights groups as anti-Semitic from its website on Wednesday.

The decision 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.

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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.

But it has no desire or need to discuss alleged anti-Semitism through this item.

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 content.”

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.”

Yochanan 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.

Rabbi Abraham 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.”

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