Dr.Gerstenfeld’s article on the upcoming PRC conference in Rotterdam, was published at INN and republished here with the author’s consent.
European Hamas Front Conference in Rotterdam
The annual “Palestinians in Europe Conference” is scheduled to take place in Rotterdam on April 15. Its main organizing body is the Palestinian Return Center (PRC). This organization has been described by intelligence services as a Hamas front group. Senior Dutch journalist Carel Brendel has published detailed information on the PRC gathered from German government intelligence services.1
In 2011, the Israeli Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center published a document branding the PRC a terror organization. It summarized: “The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) is a Palestinian center for anti-Israeli propaganda, established in London in 1996. It is affiliated with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and some of its senior figures are Hamas activists who found refuge in Britain. Its foundation was based on rejection of the Oslo Accords and a strong denial of the right of the State of Israel to exist.”2 In 2010, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak declared the PRC an unlawful organization.3
NGO Monitor has provided an overview of PRC anti-Israel activities that took place until the summer of 2015.4 In the same year the daily Telegraph published a lengthy article investigating the connections between the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, as well as those with the PRC. The article also mentions that the PRC has regularly hosted Hamas leaders at its previous annual conferences.5
In addition to Dutch ambivalence toward terror, British ambivalence is also apparent. On October 27, 2016, a meeting was hosted in the UK by Baroness Tonge, a former Liberal Democrat and now an independent peer. The attendees of the meeting were members of the PRC.6 Without reproach or redress from Baroness Tonge, who chaired the meeting, Israel was compared to ISIS and it was claimed that Jews provoked their own genocide.7 A few days before the lethal attack by a Muslim terrorist in front of the Parliament building, the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, delivered a verdict that the Baroness acted “on her honor” despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.8
The upcoming conference is the second time since 2007 that the “Palestinians in Europe Conference” will be held in Rotterdam. The term ‘Islamization of Europe’ is often used for the supposed gradual conversion of Europeans to Islam. This is unlikely to happen in a significant way and distracts from issues of dangerous Islamization for which Rotterdam is increasingly becoming a paradigm.
The choice of Rotterdam as the Dutch site of the conference is far from arbitrary. The town has a record of many years of anti-Israeli initiatives. It is also here that Dutch Turks recently threw objects at police units. The initial reason for the rioting was that a Turkish Minister on the way to the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam was stopped and expelled from the Netherlands upon orders of the Dutch government. The confrontation had nothing to do with Jews, yet the Dutch Turkish hooligans shouted “cancer Jews” at the police. This once again showed that antisemitism is a core characteristic of some Muslims in the Netherlands.
The extreme anti-Israeli Turkish-Moroccan Denk party received about eight percent of the votes in Rotterdam in the March parliamentary elections as opposed to two percent nationally. At the same time Labour, another anti-Israeli party, declined greatly and received only about 6.5% of the votes in the town.9
Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, who chairs the Dutch rabbinate, said that he is “very concerned” the conference “will incite anti-Semitism or pro-terrorist sentiment” in the country, particularly among the country’s rapidly growing community of ethnic Turks. He added that the PRC’s activities resemble that of the ‘Denk’ party.
In the Rotterdam Municipal Council, the Leefbaar Rotterdam party proposed prohibiting the conference. This proposal was not supported by any other party. Were the latter extreme free speech promoters, even of hate promoting groups? Or were they perhaps cozying up to the large local Muslim community? Doing that is yet another form of dangerous Islamization.
There are other ongoing questions. The Dutch governmental anti-terror body NCTV has not taken an official position on the conference, despite the fact that the subject by now has gained international publicity. Is the NCTV ignorant of what foreign intelligence services write about the PRC? The Dutch government has delayed answering parliamentary questions on the issue. The reason given is that not all requested information has been received.10 What additional information is needed beyond what foreign intelligence services have already published?
And what about Rotterdam major Ahmed Aboutaleb? Rotterdam Municipal Councilor, Tanya Hoogwerf, of the Leefbaar Rotterdam party, says that the Mayor doesn’t want to prohibit the conference because he has been advised there is no direct link to Hamas, and, if that is the actually the case, freedom of assembly prevails.
Ahmed Aboutaleb, an orthodox and moderate Muslim is a prominent member of the Labour party. He is even considered a potential future party leader by part of the membership. Though the Labour party has taken various extreme anti-Israeli positions, Aboutaleb has never made such statements.
The mayor is knowledgeable enough to realize what the PRC stands for. After all the discussions about the issue he must be familiar with the material published by the foreign intelligence services. Furthermore Brendel has brought convincing information that two key PRC figures of the planned conference identify with Hamas and are seen as loyal supporters by the organization.11
Rafael Medoff recently wrote an article for JNS about the upcoming PRC conference. When Aboutaleb was asked about his reaction to the conference, Maarten Molenbeek, Aboutaleb’s spokesperson, stated that the mayor would not comment on the controversy due to “a busy schedule,” and also because “we want to be prudent on this case.”12
Aboutaleb could have replied” “I am opposed to this conference which dishonors Rotterdam.” He could even have added: “It is legally difficult to prohibit it, however much I want that.”
The PRC conference is a litmus test for Aboutaleb.13 With his waffling and avoidance of a straight answer, he is failing the test. Aboutaleb is contributing to the dangerous Islamization of his city. He is not the only one. The Dutch government, the NCTV and the parties in the municipal council of Rotterdam other than Leefbaar Rotterdam have all taken part. This pattern fits many other worrying developments in the Netherlands.