Thanks, Gretta, But We'll Take It From Here

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Thanks, Gretta, But We'll Take It From Here

Anyone who's got strong political opinions knows the feeling: a total nutcase espouses a position that you support, and your heart sinks. Now all the sane people who agree with you are going to have to waste their time disavowing the nutcase. A short-lived (thank goodness) example was Cindy Sheehan's insistence that the war in Iraq was a Zionist plot (I'm paraphrasing, of course). The right has all kinds of nuts who for some reason have been given access to high-profile media, and although the rational right has gotten a bit of a pass on having to disown the wingnuts, it seems as if that's starting to change.

Here in the Netherlands, the pro-Palestinian contingent has a Cindy Sheehan of its own, only Gretta Duisenberg, unlike Sheehan, doesn't have any good side to her actions. As a pro-Palestinian friend of mine who speaks Arabic and has spent considerable time in the Middle East put it, if Gretta weren't the widow of former European Central Bank President Wim Duisenberg, she'd just be another batty housewife from South Amsterdam. But, sort of like Sheehan, Gretta Duisenberg is given prominence in the media because of her relationship to a dead person.

TV execs know that they can count on the Gretta Duisenbergs of the world to provide controversy, so they scheduled her on a "discussion" show to debate against some pro-Israel people. The inevitable ensued (Dutch):
Gretta Duisenberg is once again the talk of the town because of anti-Semitic remarks. On the television program "The Black Sheep," which was broadcast on Saturday, she complained about the Jewish community in the Netherlands. "They should not think that they can annex Amsterdam just like the West Bank."

Lawyer Bram Moszkowicz [himself an embarrassing self-promoter: Arnold] confirmed to the newspaper De Telegraaf that he was investigating the possibility of lodging a criminal complaint against Duisenberg for discriminatory statements.

On the VARA [TV producer] program "The Black Sheep," Duisenberg debated among others the journalists Hans Knoop and Max van Weezel about the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. During the discussion, Duisenberg complained about the Jews where she lives in South Amsterdam; she is allegedly called names on a regular basis.

When she made her comments about the "annexation" of Amsterdam, she was branded an "anti-Semite" by Hans Knoop, whereupon Duisenberg became extremely angry, according to De Telegraaf....

Gretta Duisenberg had gained notoriety previously for her fierce position about the conflict in the Middle East. She flew a Palestinian flag from her balcony a few years ago, which most of her Jewish neighbors considered a provocation.

Last year, the public prosecutor slapped her wrist over comments she made in a radio interview. In answer to a question about how many signatures she was hoping to get on a petition against Israel, she said, "six million," and burst into laughter.
As I've written before, I'm thoroughly opposed to the notion that a criminal complaint can be made against someone for making anti-Semitic remarks; living here has given me even greater appreciation for the First Amendment. But Duisenberg is the sort of person whom even Voltaire might have had trouble defending.

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