International Herald Tribune article on the Jewish Institute for Human Values' responses to the violence that erupted in the Netherlands after the van Gogh murder.

BERLIN: When it comes to welcoming immigrants, the Dutch have long been among the nicest guys in Europe.

When the Jews were kicked out of Spain in 1492, the Dutch opened their doors to them when others didn't. When the Pilgrims were in trouble in England, the Dutch took them in before they sailed for America. In modern times, the ever-tolerant Dutch took in guest workers and asylum seekers, many of them from Muslim countries, and left them to their own devices.

But now, as in other European countries with large Muslim populations, the Dutch are having second thoughts.

The events of Sept. 11, 2001, were especially shocking because so many of the hijackers had lived in Europe. Could the Muslim minorities in Europe be a Trojan horse?

Madrid and London had their terrorist bombings, but the trauma for Holland came with the 2004 murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a young Dutch Moroccan who objected to a film van Gogh had made about Muslim mistreatment of women. How could this have happened in Holland, and by a thoroughly integrated young man who spoke fluent Dutch?

After 9/11, and especially after the van Gogh murder, some Dutchmen began to say harsh things about their Muslim neighbors. Some mosques were vandalized. One of the first to defend the Muslims of Holland was Awraham Soetendorp, 63-year-old rabbi and founder of Holland's Jewish Institute for Human Values, who has done as much to reach out to Muslims as any cleric in Europe.


The Soetendorp Institute


Jacob Soetendorp Institute for Human Values
Van Wijngaerdenstraat 21
2596 TW The Hague
The Netherlands