Amsterdam Mayor Accuses Netanyahu of Hurting the Fight Against Antisemitism

JTA
Toby Axelrod
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Mayor Femke Halsema speaks to the media in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Mayor Femke Halsema speaks to the media in Amsterdam, Netherlands.Credit: Eva Plevier/Reuters
JTA
Toby Axelrod

At a conference on fighting antisemitism by 32 mayors from around the world, the one from Amsterdam took aim at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for allegedly cheapening the struggle for electoral gain.

Femke Halsema, a former leader of the Green Left party, criticized Netanyahu’s recent statement that the Netherlands-based International Criminal Court has made “antisemitic edicts” when the court decided last year that it had jurisdiction to prosecute Israelis for alleged war crimes in Gaza in 2014.

“If someone says for political gain that a legal investigation by the International Criminal Court of a state actor in Gaza is antisemitism, then you deeply undervalue the meaning [of] antisemitism and the dark outcomes of antisemitism nowadays and in history,” Halsema said Tuesday during her video address in the Mayors Summit Against Anti-Semitism, a virtual conference hosted by the German city of Frankfurt with the U.S.-based Combat Anti-Semitism Movement.

Israel’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Naor Gilon, pushed back on Twitter. At a conference on antisemitism, “one should speak about threats to the Jewish state rather than using this as another opportunity to criticize it” and wonder why Israel is criticized disproportionately, Gilon wrote.

The summit was the brainchild of Frankfurt Mayor Uwe Becker, who told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he initiated the event so his counterparts “can learn from each other and feel that they are not alone.”

Antisemitism in Germany is “as diverse as our society,” Becker said. The coronavirus pandemic “worked like an incubator, speeding up the spread of antisemitic conspiracy theories.”

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