The Netherlands and Trump have some kind of a special relationship…
Sometimes things can change between countries — sometimes on a political level, sometimes on a cultural level. But with the arrival of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America, things changed on almost all levels — not just for America but also for its closest allies.
In case of the Netherlands and Trump, the bond between the countries has been incredibly tight ever since the Dutch covertly supported the Americans during the War of Independence, supplying vital resources such as gunpowder from its Caribbean colonies to the American mainland. The bond has become ‘unbreakable’ since America’s role in beating Nazi Germany in the 1940s and the country’s financial aid to then, literally and figuratively, starving Holland.
As a result, the Netherlands is usually at the hand of America, and the US in return will quietly oversee that Holland’s interests are kept safe. But after Trump’s arrival, the two countries seem rather uncertain of how to deal with one another — though surely not adversaries, Holland, in particular, has openly defied the US, or Trump specifically, a number of times. We made a top of five of the Netherlands and Trump, with their oddest occurrences related to Trump’s rise and their effects, or actions, by the Netherlands in return.
#5. Netherlands and Trump: Jerusalem UN proposal made the Netherlands vote against long-time friend Israel.
Much like with the US, Holland and Israel have a very special bond. The Netherlands saw its Jewish community decimated during WWII. Some collaborators weren’t always forced or pressured, and as a result, carried much guilt and pain.
Starting 1947, the Netherlands was one of the countries that staunchly supported the creation of an Israeli state. They set up diplomatic ties in 1949 and were one of only two European countries that actively supported Israel during the Yom Kippur War (1973) by defying sanctions and sending arms and other logistical help to the country.
In recent years ties have cooled down, much due to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s political course and the controversial treatment of Palestinians. But overall the Netherlands has remained a loyal friend to Israel. That is, until Trump managed to openly expose the cracks, not just for the Netherlands but for almost all American and Israeli allies.
Trump announced on December 6th that the US would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and would be moving its embassy there too. This was extremely controversial because of further tensions being put on the already faltering peace process between Israel and Palestine (who also consider part of Jerusalem their capital). It also went directly against the 1980 UN Jerusalem Law asking members to withdraw their embassies from Jerusalem. Soon the UN drafted a resolution condemning the US move.
Trump’s UN representative Nikki Haley soon followed with ominous words that the president had asked her to ‘take names’ of those countries that voted ‘against the US’. Trump further added to the pressure stating that member states who did so would also lose all US funding — a big thing for many poor countries around the world.
However, in a surprising act of defiance against the US to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Trump saw his most loyal allies, including the Netherlands, supporting a resolution to declare the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital ‘null and void’. Countries like Germany, the UK, France, Japan and many others all supported the resolution. Even America’s friendly neighbour Canada couldn’t find the heart to support the US and withdrew from voting together with America’s southern neighbour Mexico.
The results were 128 UN members denouncing the US move, nine supportive and 35 abstentions — a smack in the face for the US and its President. The US move caused much friction in the Netherlands, with a large Muslim population, including an incident in which a Muslim man attacked a Jewish restaurant in capital city Amsterdam.
Many Jewish organizations in the country called upon the Dutch government to support the move, including right-wing politician Geert Wilders of the PVV, but it was soon clear the government had no intentions to do so. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Halbe Zijlstra, called the move “Unwise and Counter-Productive”.
The Dutch vote has almost certainly caused damage to Dutch-Israeli relations, but President Trump’s sudden and brash approach to international affairs forced the hand of one of Israel’s closest, oldest friends.
#4. The Netherlands and Trump: withdraws funding overseas organizations who aid abortion – Netherlands steps in.
As part of his campaign efforts, Trump put much emphasis on religious morality and as a result the sanctity of life, in any state. He even goes as far as to plan on appointing judges to overturn Roe vs. Wade, a pro-choice judgment that legalized abortion in the US.
On January 25th, Trump reinstated a global gag rule against the US funding any organizations aiding in abortions. Many of the world’s largest humanitarian aid organizations support and provide abortions for humane reasons such as preventing, usually desperate or ill, women from getting caught up in extremely dangerous illegal abortions. They also give women the right and power to decide about their own bodies.
In continents like Africa, where rape and disease run rampant, this could have disastrous results — for women with unwanted pregnancies but also for those who need an abortion for medical reasons. It also extends much further into society because many of the organizations who are likely to be cut from funding also provide aid outside of merely abortion. It has already lead to cuts in basic healthcare in countries like Kenya and Uganda.
However, almost instantly, the Netherlands — known globally for its leading role in pro-choice and pro-equality efforts — stepped in and commented harshly on matters. They denounced the Trump administration’s decisions. But more important, the Netherlands decided to ramp up its own efforts into providing safe, legitimate abortions for women globally. They announced setting up an international fund, going directly against American moves.
It wasn’t long before the Netherlands found support, Norway for example joined the fund no longer than a month later. Since then many countries, organizations and civil initiatives have expressed support and will be giving financial aid to Holland’s “International Abortion Fund”.
At the time, Dutch Minister Ploumen said of Trump’s decisions: “We must not let this happen. We need to compensate for this financial blow as much as possible, with a broad-based fund – which governments, businesses and civil society organisations can donate to — so that women can remain in control of their own bodies.”
#3. Netherlands and Trump: retweeting a video of foreign Muslim assailant that wasn’t
Another low in relations between the Netherlands and Trump. Late November, 2017, Donald Trump, notorious for his furious and continuous use of Twitter, retweeted a video by British far-right anti-Muslim organization “Britain First”. The video allegedly showed a Muslim immigrant assaulting a young Dutchman on crutches. The video was to serve as an example of the dire situation in the Netherlands and the danger of the European continent as a whole in regard of being ‘flooded with Muslims’.
There was just one problem with the video however, there is no dire situation in the Netherlands regarding Muslims, the European Union which holds over half a billion citizens is hardly being flooded by Muslims (refugees) and the Muslim immigrant in the video wasn’t even an immigrant either.
What’s more, the video tended to suggest that no actions were taken and this was commonplace in Holland. British politicians responded furiously about Trump’s massive faux-pas of retweeting a British ‘hate group’ and strongly denounced him in parliament. Many called for a ban on Trump visiting the UK. According to many British politicians, Trump was not only causing tensions and trouble in America but now also in Britain — and Holland for that matter.
Likewise, the Dutch were deeply angered by this ‘fake news’ in particular, going as far as having the Dutch embassy openly replying in a tweet to Trump that “yes, facts do matter” and further explained that the young assailant in the video was a sixteen-year-old Dutchman, not an immigrant. They said that the conflict between the two had no relations to Islam and that the perpetrator had already faced Dutch legal repercussions.
.@realDonaldTrump Facts do matter. The perpetrator of the violent act in this video was born and raised in the Netherlands. He received and completed his sentence under Dutch law.
— Netherlands Embassy ?? (@NLintheUSA) 29 november 2017
There was no further response from Trump and Britain First’s Twitter account has recently been removed as part of Twitter’s efforts in fighting hate groups around the world.
The new American ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, went through one painfully cringeworthy moment just a few days ago. Hoekstra, himself once born in the Netherlands in Groningen, is a former congressman (R., Michigan; 1993 – 2001) and a staunch Trump supporter. He was mentioned for multiple high posts, including director of the CIA, but seemed to have missed out on all of them. Eventually, he landed in the role of ambassador to the Netherlands, which though important to both nations isn’t quite as impressive as being CIA Director.
In a recent interview with Dutch news channel, “Nieuwsuur” Hoekstra was interviewed by America reporter Wouter Zwart. During the interview Zwart asked Hoekstra about his statements on the Netherlands’ “terrifying” problems with Islam.
During a convention in 2015 by the David Horowitz Freedom Centre, Hoekstra stated that: “The Islamic movement has now gotten to a point where they have put Europe into chaos. Chaos in the Netherlands, there are cars being burnt, there are politicians that are being burnt … and yes there are no-go zones in the Netherlands.”
Handboek nieuwe politiek & media, les 1:
– je liegt iets
– daarover lieg je
– de confrontatie noem je een leugen
– waarover je weer liegt
— Arjen Lubach (@arjenlubach) 22 december 2017
Unfortunately for Hoekstra, none of that is true, not even a little bit. Other than the tragic murder of journalist, TV host and writer Theo van Gogh (grand-nephew of Vincent van Gogh) in Amsterdam in 2004, the country has seen very little ‘real’ terrorism incidents related to Extremist Islam. There are also no suggested “no-go zones” in the country, not even ghettos comparable to those common in some major US cities.
When asked about this statement, Hoekstra immediately went into hard denial and instantly accused the reporter of what, as Hoekstra put it, “What we would call, in this country, ‘fake news’!”. In a painfully embarrassing moment that followed, the reporter whipped out his smartphone and showed Hoekstra a video clip, on the spot, of his own statements.
Hoekstra then appeared dumbfounded and in a panicky manner. He denied calling it fake news and then denied denying anything — essentially lying about lying about lying in a trifecta so powerful it echoed through the galaxy at the speed of light. The reporter, Wouter Zwart, was so surprised by events that he momentarily fell out of his role — waving his arms around in confusion and letting go of a grunt before recollecting himself and carrying on.
Please see my comments regarding recent interview. Thank you. Pete pic.twitter.com/gxQOcZ8Duk
— Pete Hoekstra (@petehoekstra) 23 december 2017
The day after the interview was aired, Hoekstra publicly apologized after major news sources had picked up his major blunder — most of them mocking the ambassador mercilessly. Hoekstra released a statement online in which he apologized and stated that becoming ambassador to the Netherlands, “Will be the greatest honour of my life” and that he “Loves the country”. Hoekstra, however, will remain controversial, not just for flat out lying in his first TV interview as ambassador but also for his views that are severely at odds with those of the Dutch, including being anti-abortion and opposing same-sex marriage.
#1. Netherlands and Trump: America first — the Netherlands second.
When it comes to the Netherlands and Trump, here is our #1! Of course, we could write much more about this one — but frankly, the video says it all. This segment from the TV show “Zondag met Lubach” (Sunday with Lubach) features the Netherlands’ bid to become “second most important” next to America.
The video includes the voice-over work of American stand up comedian Greg Shapiro. Shapiro and (Arjan) Lubach have been friends since both men were part of the Dutch stand-up comedy circuit, and were happy to cooperate on a hilarious video. The video went viral and even led to petitions, in America no less, to indeed officially make the country “second most important to America itself” — have a look and a laugh!
Altogether it appears that the Netherlands and Trump are not a great match. A far majority of the Dutch population have expressed dislike of his policies and think little of his leadership abilities, which appears to be in sync with Trump’s extremely low approval ratings in America itself. For as far as Holland goes, we’re looking forward to the next American president!
Anything we missed on the Netherlands and Trump? Feel free to pitch in!