Prior policies in the Netherlands during the 40’s, are directly affecting the Jewish community now. This decision that will affect the Jews of The Netherlands far more than anyone else.
Dutch Jewish Broadcaster faces closure
“The Jewish community will be out in the cold once again”
Hilversum Netherlands, 10 December – Prominent representatives of the Jewish community in the Netherlands have reacted with disbelief and dismay to the Cabinet’s plans to deny the Jewish Broadcaster (Joodse Omroep) access to the public broadcasting system. Although the Jewish Broadcaster is currently allocated air time on the public networks, the Dutch government says it will stop providing funding for the broadcaster – the only Jewish broadcasting network in the Netherlands – in 2016, possibly leading to its closure.
The announcement came earlier this week from Dutch State Secretary for Culture Sander Dekker and drew angry responses from well known figures in the Dutch Jewish community. The state secretary believes that the ideas of faith- and philosophy-based broadcasters should remain visible to a certain extent in his plans for modernisation of the public broadcasting system.
Awraham Soetendorp, a prominent rabbi in the Netherlands, says that the Cabinet’s policy will once again leave the “neshama, the soul of the Jewish community, out in the cold. It’s terrible that the Cabinet is threatening to remove us from the public broadcasting system. Particularly for the Jewish community, this will mean that our sense of inner security will be harmed once again. Because the more secure people feel in their own identity, the more open they are to the rest of society.
That security is now under direct threat.” Alfred Edelstein, director of the Jewish Broadcaster, says: “This is very bad for the Jewish community, for the Jewish Broadcaster itself and for my staff. But the effect on the Netherlands will be the worst thing, because it threatens to eliminate cultural diversity from the airwaves. I don’t think that this once tolerant country, where Jews have formed an inextricable part of society for more than 500 years, deserves such a fate.”
The Jewish Broadcaster is the only media outlet through which Jewish people in the Netherlands can form part of the public broadcasting system, a system which is largely fragmented along religious lines. Setting up a broadcasting association – of the type that has functioned in the Netherlands since the 1950s – requires at least 50,000 members. The Netherlands simply does not have a Jewish population that is big enough to reach that number, says well known TV presenter and journalist Frits Barend: “Due to the tragic events of the previous century, the Jewish community can never reach that minimum threshold.
A civilised government shouldn’t base decisions on numbers alone.” The Central Jewish Consultative Committee, a collaborative body comprised of the leading Dutch Jewish organizations, is seriously shocked by the Cabinet’s plans. Chairman Willem Koster said: “Religious minorities will be gagged and their social position will be seriously undermined.”
The Dutch government currently funds the Jewish network by providing subsidies of almost 2 million euro’s each year. The Jewish Broadcaster was established in 1973, and broadcasts on both public television and radio. It is Europe’s only state-funded, national Jewish media outlet.
If the Dutch government gets its way, the faith- and philosophy-based broadcasters for Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and Humanists will soon be disappearing from the public broadcasting system as well.
Joodse Omroep / Jewish Broadcaster