Wilders: 'Israel is West's first line of defense'

Dutch far-right politician, who wants to 'de-Islamize' the Netherland, vows to end the 'asylum tsunami,' stuns pollsters with a landslide election victory. Wilders under security for years following controversial comments on Muslims

Ynet, News Agencies|
Geert Wilders, Hollands far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) leader called Israel the West's first line of defense. His landslide win in Wednesday was one of the biggest political upheavals the country has known since World War II.
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Wilders, who is known for his fierce opposition to what he calls, the "asylum tsunami" into Europe, and especially to the spread of Islam on the continent, will indeed have difficulty forming a coalition and becoming prime minister. However, such a scenario is no longer far-fetched, and it may teach about the undercurrents of Dutch and European public opinion.
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Geert Wilder
Geert Wilder
Geert Wilder
(Photo: Yves Herman / Reuters)
Even before Wednesday's elections, pollsters predicted a historic success for Wilders' party and estimated that it would compete head-to-head for the leadership with the moderate right-wing party VVD, but the results shocked even them: the "Party for Freedom" won 37 of the 150 seats in the lower house of the parliament - more than twice the 17 seats it achieved in the previous election - while the united left list of the Labor Party and the "Green Left" came in second place with 25.
The VVD party of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte, this time led by Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius, who hoped to become the first woman that will serve as Prime Minister, came in third place with 24 seats, 10 less than in the previous elections. Wilders himself told tonight about the moment when he learned the results: "I had to pinch my arm."

Wilders was known for years as a harsh critic of the 'infiltration' of Islam into Europe in general and the Netherlands in particular, and spent most of his years in Dutch politics calling for to "de-Islamize" the country. However during the current election campaign he was more moderate in his statements about Islam, and focused on promises to address the cost of living and the housing crisis.

Too big to be ignored

Be that as it may, his platform also includes a call for a complete halt to the introduction of asylum seekers and immigrants to the Netherlands, as well as holding a referendum on the withdrawal of the Netherlands from the European Union - Nexit, similar to Britain's Brexit. He also calls for an end to the weapons aid provided by the Netherlands to Ukraine, claiming that the Netherlands needs these weapons to defend itself.
"The voters have spoken tonight and they have said that they are fed up,” declared Wilders tonight, after being informed of the results. Regarding the influx of immigrants flowing to the Netherlands and the continent, he said: "We are going to make sure that Dutch voters will be put first again."
Urban hailed "the winds of change", Le Pen: "the hope for change remains"
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Demonstrators protest newly elected leader of the PVV party, Geert Wilder in Utrecht
Demonstrators protest newly elected leader of the PVV party, Geert Wilder in Utrecht
Demonstrators protest newly elected leader of the PVV party, Geert Wilder in Utrecht
(Photo: Robin van Lonkhuijsen / ANP / AFP)
However, in order to complete a real victory, to be appointed prime minister and advance his plans, Wilders will have to form a coalition with at least two other parties - and this will be a difficult task for him considering that the leaders of the major mainstream parties signaled even before going to the polls that they would not agree to sit under him.
Also tonight, after the publication of the samples, Frans Timmermans, the leader of the left-wing list that came in second place, made it clear that Wilders should not put his hopes on him: "We will never form a coalition with parties that pretend that the asylum seekers are the source of all the trouble. In the coming days and weeks it will be revealed to us more and more how much Our task is difficult, important and vital to keep the Netherlands as a place that does not exclude anyone, as a place where we accept everyone and do not check what their background, religion or skin color is."
Despite the statements of his opponents, the fact that Wilders' victory last night was so decisive puts him in a new position, and they may have to back down at least somewhat from their original statements. In the victory speech, Wilders said that his party has now become too big to be ignored, and that he is prepared and ready to lead the country. He called on his political opponents to enter into honest and constructive talks on establishing a coalition, claimed that he was sure an agreement could be reached, and sounded like someone who was already courting the right-wing and center parties when he emphasized that he would only act "in accordance with the law and the constitution." Wilders' best chance to form a coalition is to gather under him the VVD and the "New Social Contract" party of centrist Peter Umtsicht, who already said tonight that he will always be open to talks.

Right-wing parties flourish in the Europe

Wilders' victory came after a number of right-wing parties that many consider extreme right-wing parties have flourished in the European Union in recent years. Only last year, the "Brotherhood of Italy" party came to power in Italy, a party with fascist roots, some of whose supporters openly express longing for the days of the dictator Mussolini, although since then its leader Giorgia Maloney has moderated her positions on various matters, and has become an accepted figure in the corridors of the Union.
Two months ago, Robert Pico's populist right-wing party, which is also opposed to the European Union, came to power in Slovakia, and in Germany these days the "Alternative for Germany" party is recording great success in the polls, and in some of them it comes in first place. Poland was also ruled for most of the last decade by a nationalist right-wing party that had a serious conflict with the European Union, and was accused of consistently undermining Polish democracy.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who is also considered an extreme right-wing man and prides himself on turning his country into an "illiberal democracy", as he put it, was one of the first to congratulate Wilders last night, who presents himself as an admirer of Orbán. "The winds of change are already here!", Urban wrote in a message he published, "Congratulations!" The leader of the extreme right in France, Marine Le Pen, joined in the congratulations on the victory: "The people refuse to see the national torch extinguished, so the hope for change remains alive in Europe."
Regardless of the question of the identity of the next prime minister, when the coalition is formed it will be the end of an era in Dutch politics: the Netherlands will say goodbye to Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who has held the position for the past 13 years. Ruta served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands for a longer period of time than any other person, thus also becoming one of the most senior and experienced leaders in the European Union.

Nazi mosques and "emptied filth"

The 60-year-old Wilders was elected to the Dutch Parliament for the first time in 1998, and became known in Europe and the world mainly for his strong positions against Islam and Muslims. He has been living under heavy security for years, due to blatant statements he made against them. Among other things, he called the prophet of Islam Muhammad a "pedophile" and said that Islam is a "fascist ideology" and a "retarded religion". On top of that, he called, among other things, to outlaw the Koran, and to ban the operation of mosques in the Netherlands, which he called "Nazi temples." Wilders' anti-Islam activism gained momentum in 2004, after a Moroccan immigrant murdered director Theo Van Gogh because he made a film that criticized Islam. Wilders participated in the making of that film.
Wilders' statements and actions against Muslims have often ignited violent protests in Islamic countries, including Egypt, Indonesia and Pakistan, and in Pakistan a local religious leader even issued a fatwa (rule of law) against him. In 2014 Wilders was convicted in a Dutch court of a crime of discrimination, after at an election rally in 2014 he asked the audience "What do you want - more emptied or less emptied?", and when they replied "Less!" He replied: "We're going to take care of it." On another occasion he said that "the Moroccan filth in the Netherlands makes the streets unsafe".
Islamic and Arab organizations expressed great concern tonight and this morning about Wilders' victory. "The distress and the fear are enormous," said Habib al-Qadouri, who heads an organization representing Moroccan expatriates in the Netherlands. "We are afraid that he will turn us into second-rate citizens." About 5% of the population of the Netherlands are Muslims.
Wilders' hostility to Islam comes hand in hand with firm support for Israel. Among other things, he stated in the past that Jordan is the Palestinian state, and that changing its name to "Palestine" will put an end to the conflict in the Middle East and give the Palestinians a national home.

Wilder's says identifies with Israel

A profile article published about him on CNN in 2017 said that he probably formed his anti-Islamic views during his travels in the Middle East in the early 1980s, when he traveled in Syria, Iran and Egypt, and volunteered for a year at Moshav Tomer in Israel, where he worked growing vegetables and grapes. "I have visited many countries in the Middle East - Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Cyprus, Iran - but nowhere have I felt a special sense of identification like the one I always feel when I land at Ben Gurion Airport," he was quoted as saying. According to reports, in the past he also said: "We are all Israel - Israel is the West's first line of defense against Islam."
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תחילת חודש רמדאן מסגד טורקי ב אוטרכט הולנד
תחילת חודש רמדאן מסגד טורקי ב אוטרכט הולנד
Muslim worshipers in a mosque in Utrecht, the Netherlands
(Photo: EPA)
In 2016, it was reported that the Dutch security service AIVD investigated Wilders' ties with Israel, including with Major General Amos Gilad, due to a suspicion that these ties influence Wilders "in a way that harms his commitment to the homeland." Even tonight, in the shadow of the war with Hamas, there was a hint of Wilders' sympathy for Israel, when in a video clip that recorded him celebrating the results of the sample in his office, the Israeli flag was seen standing behind him.
Although Wilders is one of the most recognizable political figures in the Netherlands, thanks in part to his impressive mane, little is known about his private life. Among other things, it is known to report that he is a member of a Catholic family from the East of the Netherlands, and that he was born to a father who worked in a printing house and a half-Indonesian mother from a Hindu background. It is also known that he is married to a woman born in Hungary, and that he has two cats - who "maintain" their own Instagram and Twitter accounts. In a children's program where he was a guest on TV last week, Wilders said that he likes to play "Mario Kart" on the PlayStation and read Donald Duck comic books.
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