Tuesday, February 24, 2009
This article was written on January 27, 2009 by Harriet Poot. Harriet Poot of Holland is the wife of CFOIC Dutch representative Rev. Henk Poot. Her description of recent events in Holland is both frightening and moving – a must-read for every Christian friend of Israel and the Jewish people.
It just happened last week. My husband and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary and, as always, planned a day out together. We headed for the capital of the province in which I was born, walking from the parking lot to a well-known museum to enjoy a wonderful artist’s exhibition.
When we entered the center of the city, only a few blocks away from the synagogue and the museum, we heard yelling and screaming — very unusual because it is a shopping area as well. Suddenly, around the corner, we saw the infamous flags. People were screaming: “Free Palestine!!” and “Blood on your hands!!” Two hundred people came walking through the center of the city. You could hear them walking.
The strangest thing was that most of the people in the area were silent. The atmosphere of the rally was hateful and you could feel the shopping public recoiling from the presence of these people. They would take a quick look and then continue doing what they had been doing, almost ignoring the rally. Ignoring. Again.
“They’re just like the Nazis!” my husband said. “That’s how they walked and screamed as well.” Again. This area happened to be a Jewish Quarter before World War II. We did not stop but entered the next block and just before passing the following street there they were, coming towards us again! We sent them some angry faces and went on to the next block. When we got closer to the synagogue and museum, policemen blocked the road to the synagogue. They were coming at us again, for the third time! As we were walking, I had this feeling that I just had to touch the walls of the synagogue, to calm down. I wondered how Jews, walking in the midst of the shopping public, would feel. Maybe they were inside the synagogue itself.
I hoped my husband would not try to yell back at the demonstrators. They would beat him up immediately. I started praying and I remembered what we had seen the week before. We were in The Hague at a pro-Israel rally with the Jewish community. I remembered how we all sang together ‘Am Yisrael Chai’ – the People of Israel Live!, at first very silently, then more and more joined in. And now, here in this place, I started singing again. Here in the midst of this awful demonstration. ‘Am Yisrael Chai’. The protesters certainly would not have recognized the Hebrew words, nor cared about what they meant. But to me, these words express the real truth. When they screamed:”Blood on your hands”, I was reminded of the pictures of the police station in Ramallah…. People showing their bloody hands through the windows after having murdered two Jewish boys. I have never seen Jews like this with blood on their hands shouting for joy and victory. No, the people of Israel rejoice in righteousness and in truth. They do not rejoice in blood or seek to destroy the innocent. Even in this city where so many Jews did not return after World War II, the words “Am Yisrael Chai” are still alive. I wondered how this demonstration could be possible in this city that I love.
Later this week the polls showed that 25% of the Dutch were clearly very pro-Israel and only 17% pro- Palestinian. The ‘grey’ group in the middle is growing although most people have more sympathy for Israel. It is not something to be proud of, but it is a challenge for us as well. It shows that the media does not succeed in convincing people that Israel is doing only evil things. In making them believe lies. There is still a very strong feeling among our people that the media is not portraying things fairly. They know somewhere deep down inside that the truth must be different. This feeling cannot be changed by the media. It is a feeling of being connected to the Jewish people, of sympathy and of admiration of what the Jewish people have overcome and accomplished.
You, as a Jewish people, will overcome those who have blood on their hands. You will overcome those that hate and destroy only for hate. You live as a people and you will live. Because, like Isaiah said, the Jewish people have been engraved on the palms of Heavenly Hands.