Dutch Jewish Broadcaster Faces Closure After Government Pulls Funding

Announcement that funding will cease in 2016 draws angry reactions from well-known Dutch Jewish figures.

The Dutch government said it would stop funding the country’s Jewish broadcasting network in 2016, in a move that could lead to its closure.

The announcement came earlier this week in a letter from Dutch Culture Minister Sander Dekker and drew angry reactions from well-known Dutch Jewish figures.

Willem Koster, chairman of the Central Jewish Board, said in a statement that the decision “makes religious minorities voiceless and undermines their position in society in a serious manner.”

Awraham Soetendorp, a Reform rabbi, said the impending closure “shakes the feeling of inner safety” of the Dutch Jewish community.

The minister’s letter said “small faith and philosophy broadcasters” would no longer be eligible for subsidies, a decision that would affect the Jewish broadcaster, the Roman-Catholic network and possibly a few others.

The Dutch government has funded the Jewish network with subsidies of hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

Christian networks may be able register with the government as corporations, which would allow them to charge membership fees and apply for separate arts and culture subsidies.

The Jewish station, however, may lack the necessary 50,000 members to do so.

The Netherlands has a Jewish population of 40,000 to 50,000.

The Jewish broadcaster, de Joodse Omroep, was established is 1973, and broadcasts on both television and radio. It is one of Europe’s only state-funded, national Jewish media.

Amsterdam - Bloomberg - 3.6.2011