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Amid protests, Israeli President Herzog addresses inauguration of new Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam

Dutch King Willem-Alexander defies call by Dutch mosques not to attend ceremony

Israeli President Isaac Herzog speaking at the inauguration of the new National Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam, March 10, 2024. (Photo: Isaac Herzog/X)

Israel's President Isaac Herzog spoke at the inauguration of a new Holocaust Memorial Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands on Sunday, amid anti-Israel protests outside the venue. 

The ceremony was held in the city's famous Portuguese Synagogue, in the historic Jewish quarter of Amsterdam. Nearby is a monument that was officially inaugurated in 2021, in memory of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust who lived in the Netherlands.

Seventy-five percent of the country's Jewish population perished in the Holocaust. 

Dutch King Willem-Alexander defied calls from over 200 mosques in the country by attending the opening of the new Holocaust museum alongside President Herzog. 

The king had been asked not to attend by an alliance of mosques in the Netherlands, who called President Herzog’s attendance at the ceremony “a huge blow to anyone who cares about the fate of Palestinian people.” 

The Dutch king chose to attend despite threats of protest, saying that the opening of the National Holocaust Museum was of “great significance and national importance.”

Herzog and King Willem-Alexander visited the Portuguese Synagogue ahead of the opening ceremony. 

“This museum shows us what devastating consequences antisemitism can have,” the king said. 

Pro-Palestinian protesters gathered outside the event and at various points throughout the city to protest Herzog's attendance at the ceremony. Some protesters held signs saying, "Detour. To International Criminal Court follow ." Other protesters held signs saying, "Never again is now," referring to their belief that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog speaking at the inauguration of the new National Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam, March 10, 2024. (Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

In his address, Herzog recalled his visit to the Netherlands with his own father, former Israeli President Chaim Herzog. 

“As an officer in the British army in World War II, my father had taken part in the liberation of the Netherlands, liberating Dutch cities and villages, such as Enschede, Nijmegen and Arnhem. He also liberated survivors from concentration camps,” Herzog related. 

He spoke of his grandfather, the first chief rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Isaac HaLevi Herzog, who went to the Netherlands right after the war to find lost Jewish orphans who had been hidden from the Nazis. 

“So, being here is, naturally, deeply meaningful for me,” Herzog shared. 

In the synagogue, Herzog said: “This sacred place of worship asks us to look honestly at the past: The illustrious Jewish community of the Netherlands was decimated in the Holocaust. And too many were silent. Too many Dutch citizens aided the Nazis.” 

The president asked those in attendance to join the current fight against increasing worldwide antisemitism. 

“Remember. Remember the horrors born of hatred, antisemitism and racism. And never again allow them to flourish. Unfortunately, 'Never Again' is right now. Because right now, hatred and antisemitism are flourishing worldwide, and we must fight it, together.” 

The National Holocaust Museum is housed in a former teacher-training college. The building was used as an escape route for hundreds of Jewish children who were taken into hiding during the Nazi occupation of the country. 

Many of the children “disappeared” from German records due to the covert operation by a German-born Dutch Jew, Walter Süskind, who was appointed to a nursery for Jewish children whose parents had been incarcerated by the Nazis. Süskind removed the names of Jewish children who had been rescued from Nazi records, allowing between 500 to 600 children to escape death in the Holocaust. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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