Dries van Agt former Dutch PM criticised for antisemitic statement

In an interview for a recently aired documentary, former Dutch prime minister Dries van Agt said that Israeli settlers poisoned their Palestinian neighbours in 2015.

Dries van Agt’s statement claiming that Israeli settlers poisoned their Palestinian neighbours in 2015 drew widespread criticism among Dutch Jews and watchdog organisations, claiming that the former prime minister was perpetuating a centuries-old antisemitic blood libel.

B’Tselem, a leading Israeli organisation documenting alleged human rights violations claims it is not aware of the incident described by van Agt, though they are aware of one case of alleged poisoning by settlers in 2005, resulting in no human casualties.

In the interview for the documentary, van Agt says: “The colonizers who conquered the hill a week or two earlier came each night to pound on their door at night, to achieve maximum intimidation, to tell them to go away and they refused, then one morning something terrible happened: The olive grove and the vegetable garden below — the colonizers always take to top hills – were strewn with poison. And a three-year-old child became very ill. The only explanation was that she drank the milk of a poisoned goat. She was poisoned.”

Afterwards, van Agt began crying and apologised for being so emotional, to which his interviewer replied: “These things, they’re not unusual.” Van Agt replied: “Oh, no. That’s what the wonderful people from the peace organization say. This happens all the time in the occupied territory.”

CIDI (Centrum Informatie en Documentatie), a major watchdog organisation on antisemitism in the Netherlands, accuses van Agt of spreading a blood libel, and criticised the broadcaster KRO-NCRV for airing the documentary “without checking the basic accuracy” of van Agt’s claims.

Van Agt has been fighting accusations of being antisemitic since the 1970s, claiming that his seemingly antisemitic remarks are a result of his support for the Palestinians, reports The Jerusalem Post.