Text size

Days after the release of a video showing his beheading, the Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders landed last week at Ben-Gurion International Airport for another visit to Israel - a country which he calls home.

On Monday, Wilders told Anglo File that the mock online video was part of an escalation of a hateful reaction to his resistance to "increasing Islamization" in Holland.

The 44-year-old far-right politician, who heads the Party for Freedom (PVV), is visiting Israel this week with two other legislators from his party - the opposition's third largest. Over the years, Wilders has visited Israel dozens of times to meet with security experts, politicians and old friends.

He says the escalation in hate crimes against him began two months ago when he announced he'd make a short film about the Koran - which he calls "the Mein Kampf of today."

The Christian Wilders calls Islam "a violent, imperialistic and fascist ideology." Mohammed, he says, "is the devil representing this ideology." To help reverse the perceived Islamist cultural takeover, Wilders suggests the government "close down Islamic schools and stop building mosques."

Two bodyguards from the Dutch police were sitting behind Wilders in the lobby of his Jerusalem hotel. He has 20 back home due to constant death threats from Muslim fundamentalists.

It seems Wilders is safer in Israel. "He's not well-known here, so it's easier to provide security," says one bodyguard.

Last month, a Dutch media poll named Wilders politician of the year. Wilders, whose party occupies nine out of 150 parliament seats, says the poll's outcome surprised him. "I often criticize the Dutch media for being leftist. Maybe they want to repay me for all the headlines I've given them," he jests.

Fame aside, Wilders admits being among the only politicians in the West to target Islam may be politically unwise. "But I believe in truth even when it's inconvenient."

Almost all other factions still treat PVV as a pariah movement. "They say it's because we're politically incorrect," Wilders says.

PVV detractors call it a xenophobic entity, drawing parallels between Wilders and Jean-Marie Le Pen in France. Wilders says PVV will never associate itself with xenophobic parties abroad.

"Vlaams Belang in Belgium has a history of anti-Semitism. They have since stopped making these sounds, and some say it's to court Jewish voters concerned with Islam," Wilders says about the far-right Flemish party.

"We see Christians and Jews as part of one culture," Wilders said in Jerusalem. "When I'm here I'm with my people, my country, my values. I feel more at home here than in many other European countries. Israel's a democracy - it's everything we stand for."

His attitude to Israel has caused the extreme right-wing to denounce PVV. "Luckily for me, they call me a Zionist pig and warn people not to vote for me," Wilders says.

The Dutch politician - whose love affair with Israel began in the 1980s when he worked at a moshav - says he opposes the Annapolis peace process. "The Europeans want instant coffee, instant peace. It's fueling the ridiculous drive for peace by the end of 2008."

The possibility that a European boycott on Hamas could break down worries Wilders, he says.

The pro-American calls the visit by U.S. President George W. Bush a "diversion" to get attention off Israel's "real" problems. "Hamas is getting stronger, and will take over any territory you pull out from. But some politicians cheat by giving people false hope. In reality, Israel faces an existential threat."