Below is an interview with Geert Wilders from the Israeli newspaper Yedioth, published on November 19, 2010 (print edition only).
Many thanks to DarLink for translating it from the Hebrew:
“Israel is fighting our war”
Even a journalist from a friendly country such as Israel does not escape invasive hands of the security guards who protect Geert Wilders. At the entry point to the interview with Holland’s extreme politician, founder and leader of the anti-Islamic “Party for Freedom” [PVV], bodyguards do not hold back, and run extensive security checks. Time and again they recheck my identity, making sure that I possess nothing that could potentially turn into a weapon.
Wilders, on the other hand, looks disconnected from the security turmoil around him. It seems that he must be used to it. That’s the way it is if you are one of the most threatened persons in the world.
“To tell the truth, yes, I fear for my life,” he admits.
“I am just a man. The danger does not come only from Holland. It is outside too. There are very serious threats from various terror groups, and when one is aware of the extent of the danger, it is only human to think that something bad will happen. But I cannot allow these thoughts to affect my work. If I moderate my voice because of the threats, stop saying what is on my mind, or quit being a politician, those people will have used anti-democratic means, threats and murders to silence others. They will win. I am not going to let them”.
He has reason to fear. His statements against Islam, his demands to stop immigration of Muslims to his country, the building of new mosques or wearing the veil in public — all that did the job. Although in Europe he is recognized as the most prominent leader of the anti-Islam movement, imams in the Muslim world have sentenced him to death. Terror groups promise to murder him — a man who until recently was an obscure politician with hardly any influence, but now, thanks only to his support, a new Dutch government was formed a few weeks ago.
Wilders says aloud what many Dutch and EU citizens probably think, and he pays a very heavy price for that. He lives under around-the-clock tight protection in a “safe house” provided by the Dutch government. He is the only parliamentary representative with an “unknown” home address.
“It is sad that while fighting for my country’s freedom I lost my own,” says Wilders in a special interview for Yedioth. “I have only freedom of speech and thought. Threats to my life prove that my arguments are just. I am sure that if I spoke with criticism about Christianity or Judaism, there would be no such radical response. There would be no demonstrations in Vatican. The Dutch flag would not be burnt. A million and a half people who voted for us in the last elections do not see me as a fascist or a racist.”
In two weeks Wilders is coming for a visit to Israel as a guest of a parliament member Ariel Eldad. He is invited to participate in a conference against the two-state solution.
“Israel is the lighthouse and the only democracy in this backward and dictatorial part of the world,” he proclaims. “Israel is very close to us, to our European identity. Israel fights our war.”
It Is Not About Color
Just a few days ago Dutch court decided not to punish a Muslim rapper who wrote in one of his songs that he is going to attack Wilders. “Geert, this is not a joke. Last night I had a dream about taking off your head,” the rapper sings and promises “Anyone who talks about Muslims will be killed.”
There are many rumors about Wilders’ way of life. They say that he does not sleep in the same place twice in a row, that he does not see his wife for months.
At first, six years ago, when the government did not have “safe houses”, “My wife and I stayed for a few months in a prison,” he says. “The cells we lived in had been previously occupied by two Libyan agents, responsible for “Pan Am” plane slaughter. We were not there as prisoners, but as protected personas. We also slept on military bases around Holland and military planes took us, if need be, to our meetings. It was insane. There were times when I had to put on a wig, a false mustache, and a pair of sunglasses to prevent others from recognizing me.”
Wilders stands out as a leader of anti-Islamic movement in Europe. Six years ago he left the Liberal Party [VVD] and founded an independent fraction. His party’s unpredicted success in last year’s elections to EU Parliament stunned the political arena.
In last summer’s elections to the Dutch parliament, The Party for Freedom tripled its numbers and became the third largest party in The Hague’s House of Representatives [Tweede Kamer]. The latest polls show that if new elections were held today, his party would be the largest, with 31% of the vote.
The standoff between the two largest parties — Liberals [VVD] and Social-Democrats [PvdA]— left the coalition negotiations stranded until they decided in a surprising move to form a minority government that will be supported by the Party for Freedom. From now on Wilders is an officially recognized and accepted part of Dutch politics.
Extreme right? Racist? Fascist? “I am the direct opposite of all this,” protests Wilders. “We use democratic means only. We are definitely not racists; we do not care about the people’s skin color. It is ridiculous to claim that all of our voters are fascists. It is an insult — not just to me, but to them as well. There are not that many insane people in Holland. But the political elite, who failed to solve the problems we talk about openly — massive immigration, crime rates, Islam — still thinks that it is not politically correct to talk about that. They see us getting wide support and they demonize us in response.”
Wilders says that well-established parties around Europe have no idea how to treat parties like his. “They try to stick all kinds of labels on us and then they copy what we do. A few weeks ago I made a speech in Berlin. I told Germans “Please forget your past. New generations are not responsible for what happened. Get rid of your past, because it prevents you from speaking freely about problems created by mass immigration and Islam.
“Angela Merkel and half of the government ministers criticized my speech and stated that I had no right to say things like that. A few weeks later, when surveys showed that if a party similar to mine were to be founded in Germany, it would get 20% of the voters’ support, Merkel changed direction and proclaimed the failure of the multicultural society.”
By the way, Islam is not a religion, in Wilders’ opinion. “It is a totalitarian ideology. There is no place in it for anything but Islam itself. It wants to control not only one’s private life, but the society’s life as well. If you are an atheist, a Christian, or a Jew living in a society where Islam is dominant, your life is very difficult. That’s why comparisons must be made between Islam and other totalitarian ideologies like communism and fascism.
“I have nothing against Muslims as human beings. Most of them are law-abiding people like you and me. But I am against mass immigration from Muslim countries, because immigrants will bring their culture here, which, if permitted to be dominant, will change our society. Already in countries with a sizable Muslim minority, those changes for the worse can be seen.”
In your struggle, you find yourself in the company of some very problematic parties such as Party for Freedom of Austria or France’s National Front.
“We do not have and never will have anything in common with those extremist parties. They are very different from us. We are conservative on issues concerning our culture and liberals on many other issues. The majority of Holland’s gays vote for us — they would never do that if we were extremists.”
Ariel Sharon As An Example
Wilders (47) is one of the most ardent and loud of Israel’s supporters in Europe, and contrary to many others he does not bother to hide this. He had even insisted on including in the platform of the new Dutch government the intention to improve relations with Israel.
“I am very glad that Israel is the only country mentioned by name in the platform; this will get it the needed attention,” he said “We are Israel’s best friends and we will support it in any way possible.” He bursts out laughing when asked about allegations of his being an “Israeli agent”.
“Common!” he says “It is obvious that I am not an Israel’s spy. It is insane. I am a Dutch politician and I work for Holland and what is best for its citizens. But I am a friend of Israel, and I am not afraid to say so. Because of my open support of Israel, people who do not like me invent these stories. The Iranian press states that I am a Mossad agent. Jordanians call me Shabak’s man. It’s nonsense.”
His romance with Israel started when he was 17 years old and came here to work as a volunteer for a year. “I enjoyed it very much, and not only because of the beautiful Israeli girls,” he recalls. “I was not involved in politics back then at all. I worked in the tourist industry in Eilat, a bakery plant in Jerusalem, and the cooperative settlement Tomar in the Jordan Valley. I went through some tense times in Tomar because the border with Jordan was not very secure. We had to take shelter from time to time when terrorists managed to cross over. We saw the arrival of IDF helicopters — for someone from the south of Holland who went to Amsterdam just a few times, those were very impressive experiences.”
Over the years Wilders visited many Muslim countries, including Iran, Iraq, Syria, Tunisia and Afghanistan. “I’ve met with some very friendly people over there, too,” he clarifies, “but the power in those countries is in the hands of the dictators. These people deserve better living conditions.”
He has many friends in Israel, and some of them are politicians. He had a very warm relationship with Ariel Sharon for example, whom he still admires. “Sharon was demonized in the West, too, but he was a great politician, and I take an example from him,” Wilders emphasizes.
“I believe that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is not territorial. Anyone who claims otherwise has no idea what he is talking about. If you gave up Western Bank and East Jerusalem and let the Palestinians have it, that would not end the conflict. It will take some time — a month, a year, ten years — but they will demand the rest of your country, because it is an ideological conflict. The solution therefore could not be territorial; it has to be ideological.
“Palestinians believe — and this is the nature of Islam — that Israel is theirs, and through the struggle with Israel they fight the non-Muslim West. The fight against Israel is the fight against us. We are Israel. The reason for Dutch parents’ good night sleep with no worries for their children is that parents in Israel go through sleepless nights because their children are in the Army. It does not mean that Israel cannot be criticized, but I am not ashamed to fight for Israel.”
At the conference Wilders will try to convince the public that Palestinians already have a country of their own. “Jordan is Palestine,” he states. “This was true in the past after Sykes-Picot agreement, and thus it is a solution to the conflict. Even the Jordan kings, Abdulla and Hussein, said so in the past. Only after they realized that these statements could endanger their reign, because Palestinians are a majority in Jordan, did they change their minds. I am against the idea of transfer or ethnic cleansing, but if Jordan became Palestine, it would be possible to encourage Palestinians to move there. Of course I will not be the one who decides how to end this conflict. Israel is a democracy and will decide for itself which solution is best for it. It is your decision.”
What is your opinion on Israel’s debate concerning the “loyalty oath”? Could it be implemented in Holland too?
“I think it is a good idea. Even though the background in Holland is different, I think that a pledge of allegiance to the country is a good thing. We will not be able to pass such legislation with the current government in Holland. I talked in the past about an integration agreement between the state and the immigrants or a loyalty oath, which will show their commitment first of all to our country and our values, our constitution, and our culture. It would be a positive step to take. The people of Europe have no idea who they are anymore, that’s why they do not know what to fight for. We have to reinvent our identity. In France, for example, before every speech by the president, the French flag is displayed and the national anthem is played. If someone tried to do that in Holland, everyone would think that he was out of his mind. We do not have a flag even in Parliament. You are not a racist if you are proud of your national uniqueness and fight to preserve your culture. The idea that all cultures are equal was forced on us by the left and the liberals, and is in fact the Europe’s worst sickness. People cannot see any difference between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam anymore despite the fact that they are worlds apart and are different in a thousand ways. We are fighting this idea, and we are slowly winning.”
Europe Is Not a Friend
Wilders does not hide his support for military action against Iran. “Iran is the biggest geopolitical threat to Israel, to the stability of the Middle East region, Europe, and the whole world,” he says. “That country is ruled by insane, religious lunatics like Khamenei or other crazies like Ahmadinejad. We can see some changes over there these days. Even the Revolutionary Guard is voicing criticism. Iran could explode from the inside. The danger in countries that deal with such an internal threat is that their regime may react violently and unpredictably. I am afraid of that. Because of the growing internal unrest, we cannot allow them to implement any program that could potentially be put to a military use. They will look for the common external enemy, and Israel would be the first to pay the price. I hope that diplomacy will lead to a peaceful resolution, but if Israel decides it has no other option but to strike Iran militarily in order to defend itself against this existential threat, I will understand. The alternative is the destruction of Israel.”
Is Turkey on its way to becoming a new Iran?
“Turkey is a very complex country. We have good relations with Turkey. It is a respected NATO member. But at the same time it is a country which can easily turn to the ways of Islam. I am against the American pressure on the EU to grant membership to Turkey. Europe does not need such a large country, where Islam is dominant, as a member. A good neighbor is not the same as a family member. If Turkey were to become a EU member, it would be required to fulfill certain criteria, one of which is to dismantle the army. I am quite uneasy about this. The army is Turkey’s only balancing power. If the army is dismantled, people like Erdogan could accelerate the Islamization process, which will turn Turkey into the Trojan horse in the heart of Europe. I also would not want to have a common border with such criminal countries as Iran and Syria.”
And what is your opinion on Israel joining the union?
“I would advise my friends in Israel not to consider such an option. The Union has always supported Palestinians. Israel has a lot of friends in Europe, but Europe is not a friend to Israel.”