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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

January 12, 2003

For Anne Frank, the First Blogger

Gretta Duisenberg is really beginning to make news. Duisenberg, a Dutch socialist harridan who has dedicated herself to agitating on behalf of Palestinian terror, is the wife of Wim Duisenberg, the head of the European Central Bank. Last week, she used her husband-acquired diplomat's passport to enter Israel, and then the West Bank, where she visited Arafat and was photographed numerous times, beaming, half-hugging him, nearly carressing his Wet-Wiped jowls.

Previously, she had gained exposure through her pro-Palestinian activism, which included famously draping a Palestinian flag from the balcony of the Duisenberg home in the tony Rivierenbuurt neighborhood, and an oft-quoted radio appearance:

"The reporter asked her how many signatures she intended to collect for a pro-Palestinian petition. She paused, laughed and then responded, 'Six million?'"
Little Green Footballs has become aware of her now -- here, here, here and here -- as her tour of the territories and the outrage her comments in subsequent interviews sparked have now brought her serious coverage. I thank Charles Johnson for reminding me of her. But Michel Visser was on to her before, when she was just another desiccated Euro-harpy voicing her anti-Israel-cum-antisemitic views.

What has got people going is this comment, which appeared in a Dutch newspaper interview after her meeting last Wednesday with Arafat:

"'The Holocaust excepted, the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is worse than the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands,' she was quoted as saying Friday in an interview with the Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad.

'The cruelty of the Israelis knows no bounds. For example, it's not unusual that they blow up Palestinian houses. The Nazis never went so far during the Dutch occupation.'"
Someone might inform Duisenberg that excepting the Holocaust from the Nazi invasion of Holland doesn't leave much to speak of. Someone might also inform her that the reason that's the case is because the Dutch happily coughed up 70% of their Jewry (100,000 people) to the Nazi maw, vying with the Czechs and Vichy French for the honor of the most zealous and self-annihilating submission of a country's national sphincter to the ravages of a foreign aggressor.

Duisenberg's comment is part of a recent trend in her activities of upping the ante, no doubt due to the fact that her husband's term as ECB president is coming to an end in June of this year. His position, which makes him the European Union equivalent of Alan Greenspan, requires him to operate under at least a pretense of political neutrality. Gretta, although reliably provocative due to her combination of arrogance, maliciousness and invincible stupidity, has had to mute herself comparatively until recently.

In spite of the impending conclusion of Wim Duisenberg's presidency, the outrageousness of his wife's latest soundbyte is causing some media to speculate that he may be forced to resign early. Some groups have in fact publicly called for him to clarify his thoughts on his wife's stance. The imputed conflict of interest is dramatically important because the stated goal of Duisenberg's activist group, Stop the Occupation, is to convince the European Union to bring economic sanctions to bear on Israel until it withdraws its occupation forces.

Unfortunately, Wim Duisenberg has had this to say:

"In a defiant letter to Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the Dutch foreign minister, Mr Duisenberg defended use of a Dutch diplomatic passport by his wife, Gretta, this week while leading a delegation to visit Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader.

He also denied that she meant to condone terror tactics when she expressed 'understanding' for suicide bombers in a television interview and said 'far more innocent Palestinian citizens' were being 'murdered'."
EU trade sanctions would have major repercussions for Israel. It would be a huge step and is not likely to happen soon, but the current European trend of unthinking academic and economic boycotts of Israel make it not implausible.

As her husband said, Gretta did in fact express "understanding" of Palestinian suicide bombers, embodying for the world the moral obtuseness that arises from the postmodern relativism that is Europe's most popular export besides wine and boggy cheese:

"Gretta Duisenberg has said she's not anti-Semitic and condemns all forms of violence, including suicide attacks, though she told Dutch television earlier this week that she had a 'certain understanding' of the motivation behind them."
Duisenberg has echoed the tiresome leftist protests of Zionist suppression of free speech through the equation of criticism of Israel with antisemitism. This position, as well as the difficulty of proving intentional malice behind Trent Lott-style "gaffes" -- Duisenberg has said that her citing of "six million" signatures came incidentally from the fact that she had actually accumulated six thousand -- facilitates pronouncements like the above. But what give the lie to her use of this defense are two salient facts. First, the chronology of the notorious flag incident:

"The ruckus began on April 13 during a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Amsterdam held in response to Operation Defensive Shield. The demonstration was very unruly: Some demonstrators carried signs equating Sharon with Hitler, others beat a Jewish bystander and shouted that all the Jews should be burned in gas chambers.

'It was a very threatening and very anti-Semitic demonstration,' says Van der Wieken [the Duisenbergs' neighbor -- G.]. 'The demonstrators dressed up like Hamas militants, sang Hamas songs and burned Israeli flags. In Amsterdam, you don't normally see people burning something, especially flags. The next day, we saw the PLO flag hanging from Mrs. Duisenberg's balcony.'"
It was reported that Duisenberg participated in the demonstration and bought her flag from one of the demonstrators.

Second, Duisenberg's visit to the West Bank and pronouncement that the Israelis are worse than occupying Nazis come on the heels of the recent dual suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that killed over 20 victims.

These juxtapositions are not accidental.

Finally, we mustn't forget the links between moral equivalence, third-worldism and victimology, and how they combine to form a muscular trinity in the context of socialism that leads algorithmically to antisemitism in the presence of a non-shtetl Jewry. I implied that Wim Duisenberg's socialism was probably relevant the first time I noted Gretta's excess, but I didn't have much else but a hunch to go on. Since then, I've come across a Ha'Aretz article entited, "Gritting Gretta", which provides corroboration to an extent I didn't expect. It's also by far the most thorough and engaging profile of Duisenberg I've found, and should be read for that alone. The article was written by Sara Leibovitch-Dar for Ha'aretz on October 31st of this year, and is available for online purchase from Ha'aretz's (English) archive.

"Gretta Duisenberg, nee Gretta Bedier de Prairie, is the daughter of a police officer. She studied at the University of Amsterdam and subsequently worked as head nurse at an Amsterdam hospital. Her first husband was a doctor, and they had three children. They divorced in the early 1980s. In his Wall Street Journal article, Vermaat writes that she was close to Marxist, anti-globalist circles. She became friends with a Pakistani man, Ahmed Aqbal, who supported Muammar Qaddafi and George Habash and founded a research institute in Amsterdam that became a magnet for Trotskyites and pro-Cuban socialists. According to Vermaat, she and Aqbal expressed vehement opposition to international financial institutions like the World Monetary Fund, where Wim Duisenberg was on the board for 15 years (1982-1997)."
The careful reader will wonder why a socialist would marry a banker involved in definitively globalist endeavors, and I share his incredulity. But I don't find it that surprising in the context of Gretta's obvious ignorance and the often dramatically inconsistent ideology of modern leftists. It is also exceedingly common for Marxists past and present to project their social fantasies onto others from plutocratic, or at least middle class, heights.

Furthermore, while he seems comparatively conservative, Wim Duisenberg was a former Socialist Party parliamentarian.

It remains to be seen how hot the controversy will get. Unable to recognize antisemitism outside of a cartoonish right-wing context, and still reeling from the Holocaust, Europe is solicitous toward Gretta Duisenberg's smug brand of evil. But her rather public incontinence and her husband's position do make a volatile combination. Gretta has conluded her terror tour of the West Bank, and in Rivierenbuurt she has perhaps celebrated her good works over several ploughman's lunches fine enough to be the envy of Cambridge Ladies everywhere. What I wonder, however, is whether Gretta, on her way home from the airport, had occasion to pass by Anne Frank's house?

Cross-posted on Fightin' with Grabes.