Jewish communal leaders in the Netherlands are facing tough questions after inviting to the country’s annual Kristallnacht commemoration a government minister who sent millions of euros to a terror-linked Palestinian nonprofit.
Dutch Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag, who previously served as the European country’s minister for foreign affairs and development cooperation, admitted to parliament in 2020 that her ministry had paid part of the salaries of two terrorists involved in the murder of an Israeli teenager.
Rina Shnerb, 17, was killed, and her father and brother seriously wounded, in an August 2019 bombing near the Samaria community of Dolev.
The terrorists implicated in the attack, Samer Arbid and Abdul Razeq Farraj, were employed by the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), which has close ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group.
Ignoring multiple warnings from Israeli watchdog groups, Kaag, who is married to Anis al-Qaq, a former Palestinian Authority deputy minister and PLO ambassador, continued to support the UAWC, contributing some 11.7 million euros (nearly $12.3 million) between 2017 and 2020.
Adding insult to injury, Kaag was caught in a lie when she claimed in an interview that the Dutch ambassador had visited the mourning family. In fact, the ambassador never contacted the Shnerbs, and while it eventually terminated its relationship with the UAWC, The Hague has yet to issue an official apology.
Nevertheless, Dutch Jewish leaders invited Kaag to speak at next month’s Kristallnacht commemoration alongside Central Jewish Board chairman Chanan Hertzberger, U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands Shefali Razdan Duggal and Auschwitz survivor Mirjam Weitzner-Smuk.
‘I wish the community better friends’
Kristallnacht, also referred to as the “The Night of Broken Glass,” was a massive anti-Jewish assault that occurred on the night of Nov. 9-10 in Germany, Austria and the German-occupied region of Czechoslovakia. In 48 hours, Nazis destroyed synagogues, looted and vandalized Jewish businesses, homes and cemeteries, killing Jews on the spot.
In an exclusive statement to JNS, the Shnerb family said it was “outrageous” that Kaag would be invited to participate in any event connected with the Shoah.
“Kaag was in a position to decide whether to fund homicidal terrorists who, like the Nazis, were trying to murder Jews simply for being Jews. Kaag ignored all the warning signs and insisted on funding the PFLP terrorists. Those terrorists then murdered Rina,” the family said.
“Having actively supported terrorists murdering Jews, how can she genuinely condemn the actions of the Nazis?” concluded the statement.
The opposition to Kaag’s presence at the Nov. 9 event was kickstarted on Tuesday by Geert Wilders, the leader of the right-wing Freedom Party (PVV). Wilders, a staunch supporter of Israel, has lived in the Jewish state and is married to a former Hungarian diplomat of Jewish descent.
“Kaag will speak at the Kristallnacht commemoration?” tweeted Wilders in a post addressed to the Central Jewish Board. “She was photographed with terrorist [Yasser] Arafat and financed Palestinian terrorists. I wish the Jewish community better friends,” he added.
Wilders’s jab referred to a family picture from the 1990s that showed Kaag, her husband and their four children posing with the PLO chairman. At the time, Kaag worked for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
Meanwhile, the Jerusalem-based research institute NGO Monitor, which spearheaded the investigation into Dutch support for Palestinian terrorism, said Kaag “has a history of supporting disinformation campaigns that demonize Israel through the facade of human rights.”
Prof. Gerald Steinberg, NGO Monitor’s founder and president, told JNS on Wednesday that while the Dutch Jewish community was free to invite whoever it wished to the event, the choice of Kaag was “difficult to understand.”
“As development minister, she ignored NGO Monitor research reports of funding for the network of terror-linked Palestinian NGOs. An independent investigation mandated by parliament later verified the evidence showing that Kaag’s ministry paid the NGO salary for the PFLP terrorists who murdered … Rina Shnerb, and only then was the funding ended,” he added.
The Central Jewish Board of the Netherlands, which was founded in 1997 and counts among its member organizations some of the country’s most prominent Jewish religious and pro-Israel interest groups, claims to “represent the interests of the Jewish community with the government and in society.”
Central Jewish Board chairman Hertzberger did not respond to multiple JNS queries for comment.