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Many foreign correspondents apply a variety of techniques to express bias against Israel. Some emphasize its negative aspects - of which every country has many - neglecting to mention the positive ones, and omit context. Others actually distort the facts. Frequent repetition helps create a negative image among viewers or readers abroad.
Reversing this method illustrates how it works, and to do this most effectively one should apply it to a country with a good reputation. The Netherlands makes an appropriate target, both because of its international image as a decent and calm place, and in view of the anti-Israel bias of several current and former Dutch correspondents.
AN ARTICLE on a week of developments concerning the Netherlands could read as follows:
In mid-May, charges resurfaced that Dutch soldiers had used torture in Iraq several years ago. The press mentioned that they had used an electric stick and other instruments of torture when questioning Iraqis.
Other news on the Dutch military: On May 16, nine Dutch soldiers were arrested in the town of Eindhoven, suspected of having beaten a homeless man unconscious.
A few days later the UN Commission Against Torture expressed its worry regarding Dutch asylum policy. Due to accelerated procedures, asylum seekers do not get enough time to plead their case, creating the possibility that refugees will be sent back to countries where they might be tortured. This goes against a 1985 convention signed by the Netherlands. The UN Commission also expressed its worry that asylum seekers in the Netherlands are often left insecure about their future for a long period of time.
On the same day, Dutch papers wrote about the State Department's International Narcotics Strategy Report, which stated that the Antwerp harbor in Belgium is the favorite port for cocaine smuggling throughout Europe. Almost all major shipments there are destined for the Netherlands. The same report cited the Netherlands as the largest supplier of Ecstasy pills to the United States.
A few days earlier, Jan Kees de Jager, deputy minister of Finance, was accused of having broken a broad range of labor laws in his previous position as director of his own software company.
On May 18, a Haarlem court concluded that the current leader of the Liberal Party, Mark Rutte, had incited to racial discrimination in 2003, when he was deputy minister of Social Affairs. In a letter to municipalities he asked them to submit citizens or residents of Somalian origin to fraud investigations concerning social assistance. As a result, the Haarlem municipality investigated 84 residents of Somalian origin.
When the judgment became known, Rutte said that were he deputy minister now, he would send the same letter. He added that if the judge thought this discriminatory, the law would have to be changed to make it legal. Rutte said one sometimes has to target perpetrators of fraud. Targeting is now more common in The Netherlands. A few days earlier, the government announced that it would provide five million euros to the four largest Dutch municipalities specifically to fight crime in the Moroccan community.
IN AMSTERDAM, Faith Dag, a local leader of the Turkish Milli Gorus movement, announced that if the permit for a huge new mosque was cancelled, the movement would call on Turks from all over Europe to come and demonstrate in Amsterdam. Dag also mentioned that as Turks are emotional people, this could lead to violence.
Initially the Amsterdam Municipality had given permission for the mosque. In the meantime, control of this project was passed to a new community board reporting to Milli Gorus in Germany, which is under ongoing observation by the Secret Service there. The initial director of the Amsterdam project stands accused of fraud by Milli Gorus. The Dutch authorities are also investigating the possibly illegal trade in Milli Gorus mosques of Turkish securities, through which many congregants have lost money.
Geert Wilders, the heavily guarded leader of the conservative Freedom Party whose life is regularly threatened by Dutch Muslims, filed another complaint with the authorities. Among his latest hate mail was a threat from somebody calling himself "Mohammed B. II.' which said he would be killed, his throat cut in the same way filmmaker Theo van Gogh was slaughtered by religious Muslim Mohammed Bouyeri in 2004.
It isn't only politicians who are insecure in the Netherlands. In the Rotterdam Zoo, a gorilla escaped and wounded several visitors. It crushed the hand of a woman, broke her wrist and bit her.
ALMOST ANY WEEK would yield a similar collection of negative facts in a country which is far from facing Israel's existential threats. The Dutch needn't worry, however, as the foreign media are hardly interested in what happens there.
But anti-Israel correspondents get a great deal of media space. This phenomenon has its roots in the two-milennia-old incitement against Jews in the Western world.
The writer is chairman of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is presently working on a book titled The Netherlands, the Jews and Israel, sponsored by the Israeli Maror Foundation.