Jews like "docile lambs" in Holocaust; MH17 conclusions debatable: Nationalist candidate for Senate leader
The Jewish people put up "very little resistance" in World War Two, exacerbating the Holocaust, said Toine Beukering in an interview with the Telegraaf. The 60-year-old former brigadier general has never served in politics, but has been put forward by far right wing nationalist party Forum voor Democratie as a candidate to lead the Dutch senate.
His interview covered his reasons for questioning the belief that Russia or Russian-backed separatists shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, and why even with no political experience he should be allowed to lead the Eerste Kamer, the upper house of Dutch parliament.
In speaking about his reasons for pursuing a career in the military, Beukering pontificated on his admiration for Napoleon and thoughts on World War Two, particularly the Holocaust. Even as a child, he said he read many books about the Shoah, the Hebrew word for "catastrophe" used frequently to define the deaths of six million Jews during the War.
"I've always been intrigued how that is possible. That the Jews - such brave, [combat-ready] people - were just chased into the gas chambers like docile lambs. That has always fascinated me," he said, adding that he never understood why that happened. He then pledged that it would never happen again.
"That is why I have worn a uniform for forty years and have traveled all over the world," he said.
When pressed to explain what he meant by "docile lambs," he said it was because "there was very little resistance," and clarified that he did not mean they died voluntarily.
"I am not offending anyone with that," he stated, pointing also to a recent occasion where he wore a kippah in support of Jewish people wanting to openly show pride in their religion.
His comments were denounced rapidly by many organizations specialized on the issue. "There was resistance everywhere. Lack of knowledge, education about the Holocaust is a failure," said Maria van Beurden Cahn of the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam.
The Jews were not "docile lambs", but rather the "victims of disinformation, government cooperation and the German destruction machine. The truth is that it was unavoidable," said Esther Voet, the editor of the Nieuw Israëlietisch Weekblad to the Telegraaf.
Politician Jan Paternotte was equally disappointed. "What an insane slap in the face of so many survivors. And what an insane historical falsification”, the D66 Member of Parliament said on Twitter.
On MH17, Beukering told the newspaper he wanted to say more proof that the Russians shot down the passenger jet. All 298 people on the flight to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam were killed when a BUK missile shot the plane out of the sky in July 2014.
Even though it has been five years since the plane was shot down, Beukering thought the conclusions into who fired the missile were under pressure to be released quickly. Research by the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team was released over a year after the incident, and more evidence linking the missile unit to Russia was presented over two years after the plane blew apart in the sky over eastern Ukraine.
Beukering thought it was clear that a Buk missile was used, but questioned whether or not it might have been a "Ukranian madman" who fired the rocket. FvD leader Thierry Baudet angered many family members of those who died in the crash with comments speculating that Ukraine downed the aircraft and not Russia, as is commonly thought. Baudet has opined for years that the investigation into MH17 could lack credibility, and in 2016 asked then-President Elect Donald Trump to launch an independent investigation.
The former military leader also said he liked Baudet's success in growing the party, but did not agree with all of the party leader's opinions. He criticized the timing of Baudet's controversial opinion piece in which the FvD head spoke dismissively of gender equality in work-related issues, euthanasia, and women's rights to an abortion.
Beukering stopped short of criticizing the content of Baudet's piece.
He also said his lack of experience was in-line with the ethos of the FvD party, which he said has supporters from all walks of life. He compared being Senate President to his career in the military, in which he changed roles 12 different times in four decades.
"And then you have to get up to speed very quickly, because after two or three years you will leave again," he said. That remark was in response to a suggestion that he should serve a four-year term as a senator to better understand the inner-workings of the institution before attempting to lead it.
"No, I don't think you need four years for that," he said.