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BUSH WATCH...Amsterdam Diary
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Part 1: Death in Amsterdam , Jerry Politex"In 1999, 45 percent of the population was of foreign origin. If projections are right, this will be 52 percent in 2015. And the majority will by muslim." --quote and some of what follows from "Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance," Ian Buruma (Penguin Press, 2006)
Not far down the river from the Amstel Hotel, where Clinton stayed and rock stars stay, Cptn. Jan points out the street and park near where Theo van Gogh, political provocateur, controversial filmmaker, and great grandnephew of Vincent van Gogh, was pulled off his bicycle, shot in the stomach, and had his throat cut by Mohammed Bouyeri, a 26 year old, second generation Moroccan Dutchman. Boyyeri calmly planted his machete in van Gogh's chest, placed a letter next to it, and stabbed a small knife into its center to pin it to the dead body. The letter was a call to arms to destroy people Boyyeri believed "insulted the prophet Mohammed": ex-Muslim critic Hirsi Ali and her "masters," a cabel of "jews," which included the mayor of Amsterdam. Although political party leader Jozua van Aartsen was not a jew, he was included on the hit list. Standing over the body of van Gogh, the Moroccan youth told a bystander, "now you know what you people can expect in the future."
Holland, the home of Spinoza, has a well-deserved reputation for being second to none in Europe in its support of diversity and freedom of speech and action. Its people have created a tradition of compromise and negotiation over the centuries. On the other hand, its generally prosperous economy has, in the minds of some, created a sense of complacency, a kind of self-satisfaction that is unsure when challenged. Buruma uses the word "verongelijktheid" to describe it, a kind of affronted panic that the citizenry is being wronged by the world. Observers who continue to warn fellow-citizens about growing groups of Muslim fundamentalist immigrants that believe women are inferior to men, and religion, their religion, should create the laws of the state are branded as "racists." Their response: Is it wrong to be intolerant of intolerance? Others struggle for words to describe the conflict of ideas: "Enlightenment" vs. "Counter-Enlightment"? "Merchants of Fear" vs. "Arrogant Multiculturalists"? "Religious Fundamentalists" vs. "Enlightment Fundamentalists"?
At present, those who fear that there's a growing threat from the country's Muslim fundamentalist immigrants are moving into Holland's conservative parties, and those who are more concerned about following the country's tradition of multiculturalism are remaining in the liberal parties. Ideology aside, the fact remains that those politicians who are most articulate about their belief in the threat of Muslim fundamentalist immigrants have lost their freedom to carry on their normal, daily activities without armed bodyguards at their side. tbc
History: Death in Amsterdam, Part 2 , Jerry Politex"71% of all Jews in the Netherlands ended up in [Hitler] death camps, the highest percentage in Europe outside Poland." --quote and some of what follows from "Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance," Ian Buruma (Penguin Press, 2006)
Amsterdam's long history of enlightened, progressive thinking amidst a booming economy is well-earned. In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, Jewish victims of Christian European inquisitions found protective homes in this thriving city, called the City by the Jews. A later migration into the Netherlands by the French Huguenots took place under similar circunstance later in the seventeenth century.
Amsterdam however, was never the land of milk and honey. Enlightenment philosopher Benedictus de Spinoza spent most of his days in the capital city of the Hague after he was excummunicated by Jewish religious leaders in Amsterdam. Like other European cities, Amsterdam was never free of professional and social restrictions against the Jews. Although Jews throughout Europe point with pride to the Dutch workers' strike agains the deportation of the Jews to concentration camps during WWII, the deaths of Ann Frank and a large majority of her fellow Jews living in Amsterdam still hang like a cloud over the city. After WWII the husks of jewish ghetto buildings between New Market and Waterloo Plain were torn down and replaced by streets with modern apartments and stores that stretch down to the Amstel River and its nearby reminders of Rembrandt.
As the Dutch empire shrunk back, during the Twentieth Century, Amsterdam's booming economy was able to absorb those middle-class Indonesians-- teachers, nurses, civil servants-- who wanted to settle in a modern European city. Bringing in unskilled "guest workers," hired to do the growing grunt work, was another matter. Africans, Turkish, and Moroccans, mostly single, uneducated men from conservative, rural parts of their countries were expected to work for low wages and few social protections, leaving in a few years when their jobs ran out. (Sound familiar?)
By the mid-70's the jobs had run out. An Arab oil embargo, used to punish the Dutch for their support of Israel during the Yom Kippur War, cratered Amsterdam's economy. Suddenly, the "guest workers," unwilling to leave, became wards of the Dutch welfare state. On the dole, without job prospects, living in "dish cities," cramped blocks of apartments linked to their homelands by satellite television. The father of the killer of Theo van Gogh was such a man. tbc
Murder in Amsterdam, Part 3: Sex and The Single EU Muslim Male, Jerry PolitexAccording to Moroccan-Dutch psychiatrist Bellari Said, "the main problem among [my] patients were depression and schiophrenia: depression was especially common among women, and schizophrena among men. But schiophrenia did not seem to affect first-generation immigrants. The guest workers tended to become depressed, not schizophrenic. It was the second generation of Moroccans, born and educated in the Netherlands, that suffered from schizophrenia. A young Moroccan male of the second generation was ten times more likely to be schiophrenic than a native Dutchman from a similar ecomomic background." --quote and some of what follows from "Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance," Ian Buruma (Penguin Press, 2006)
One evening in Amsterdam a few weeks ago, Christine and I were in a tram on Spuistraat, going to the Bimhuis, on the water behind Central Station, to catch a jazz concert. As the speeding tram shifted back and forth on its tracks, an unveiled Muslim woman, mid-twenties, ethnic clothing, grabbed onto a pole across the aisle and, holding on, was thrown sideways into an empty seat. She had a twinkle in her eye, and, both of us amused, smiled at each other. Like numerous angry young European Muslim men, Mohammed Bouyeri, the Moroccan murderer of Amsterdam activist Theo van Gogh, would not have been amused.
Ian Buruma reports that when a film made by four young Moroccan-Dutch women dealing with violence against women was screened in Amsterdam, a Moroccan-Dutch woman stood up during the discussion period and said, "[Muslim] culture and religion are used to justify violence. If a girl calls herself a victim, she is blamed. If she goes to the [Amsterdam] police or social workers, she is a traitor. All my Turkish and Moroccan girlfiends have had to cope with domestic violence." In a note by Bouyeri, knifed into the body of van Gogh, the youthful killer wrote that a Moroccan-Dutch woman, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, was next on his death list. Hirsi Ali, a sexually attractive 37 year old Somilian-Dutch ex-Muslim who entered the Netherlands under a false name to escape a forced marriage, made "Submission," a film under the direction of van Gogh which questioned the status of women under Islamic law.
In a June legislative compromise, Hersi Ali was allowed to keep her Dutch citizenship, obtained with false documentation, but resigned from her seat in parliament and said she would move to the U.S. and work for the American-Enterprise Institute, a conservative economics think tank (Wikipedia). A few weeks ago in De Balie, a cafe off Leidesplein, a meeting place for artists and political activists, we talked with a young, attractive Dutch woman of European descent who is progressive, politically active, and a native of Amsterdam. She was of the opinion that van Gogh, a media celebrity who had his own TV show, had gone too far in his anti-Islamic invective, and she didn't appear particularly worked up over Hirsi Ali's resignation and plans to move to America. While in Amsterdam, the beautiful politician could only appear in public under heavy security, and if she's now in the U.S., she remains under cover.
Like many second-generation Moroccan men, Bouyeri, van Goghs's killer, had a problem with parental authority, Buruma reports. The lack of public respect shown to his dishwasher father, along with his father's inability to "control" his sister, Wardi in her quest for "sexual freedom," drove the young man up the wall. He was ill-prepared to take on the role of parent, but he must have felt he had no other choice if he wanted to retain the respect of others. "The fact that [Bouyeri] had a girlfriend himself was irrelevant, or perhaps not irrelevant but an example of faulty cognitive wiring. He was a man. Dutch women were easy, and therefore, in fact, disgusting," writes Buruma. Seventeen-year-old Wardi had a Moroccan boyfriend, and this was not permissable before marriage under Muslim law. Humiliated and feeling the need to restore the honor of the family, Bouyeri had several run-ins with the police over the boyfriend, the last one ending up with a twelve-week jail sentence after he tried to slash a policeman with a knife.
Moroccan-Dutch psychiatrist Bellari Said, quoted above, has a theory about youg men such as van Gogh's killer: Said "believes that the problem lies in the adaptation of a strictly regulated society to a freer, more open one. This can lead to disintegration of the personality. The pressure to assimilate is one of the risk factors for schizophrenia. Men suffer more than women because they have more freedom to interact with mainstream Western society. When the process of integration goes too fast, when the son of Moroccan villagers throws himself too quickly into the bewildering maelstrom of Western temptations, his "cognitive wiring" can go badly awry. The desire for strict religious rules is a form of nostalgia, as it were, a way to regain the one's parents, or what people think was the world of their parents. To remain sane, they long for the security of a paradise lost. Girls, or young women, have they opposite problem. They have to live with many traditional constraints; the old world still exists for many of them, and so they long for more freedom."
Death In Amsterdam, Pt. 4: How Muslim Women Are Indoctrinated To Hate (excerpts), Ayaan Hirsi Ali Interview
As a 22-year-old Somali Muslim, Ayaan Hirsi Ali disappeared en route from Nairobi, Kenya, to an arranged marriage in Canada, and fled to the Netherlands. A decade later, she won a seat in the Dutch Parliament, where she became known as an advocate for women and a critic of Islam. She collaborated with Theo van Gogh on a movie that depicted abused women with passages from the Koran written on their skin. In 2004, Mr. van Gogh was shot dead in Amsterdam by a Dutch Muslim born to Moroccan immigrants, who then staked a letter threatening Ms. Hirsi Ali onto Mr. van Gogh’s chest, sending her into hiding for a while. Three months ago she landed in Washington as a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Her autobiography, “Infidel,” will be published in English on Tuesday. Recently she spoke to Laurie Goodstein, a reporter for The New York Times. --NYT, Feb. 4, 2007
What follows is Laurie Goodstein's interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, edited to focus upon the themes of Bush Watch's "Death in Amsterdam." --Jerry Politex
When I came to the Netherlands I spoke English....My first experience in the Netherlands was very pleasant, extremely pleasant. I mean, I got my residence permit, refugee status, within four weeks of arrival. People treated me extremely well....The whole asylum process has changed. I was received at a center — it looks like a holiday resort, with a golf course, swimming pools, and tennis courts and people who are assigned to make the lives of the refugees coming in as pleasant as possible. Today in Holland you will be received at a center where you will be put in a small room that looks like a prison and you will sit in that room with hundreds of others, in each other’s sweat and tears, and you will be kept, you will be made to wait for hours before you can even be heard. And within 48 hours you get an answer, and the answer is, 9 out of 10 times, it’s negative....
I took part in a debate [in Canada] and there were many Muslims, and I thought there was a huge difference between the Canadian Muslims and, for example, the Dutch Muslims. The Canadian Muslims were just as angry with me as their counterparts in Holland, but they refrained from shouting, from insulting and from disrupting the session. And that’s what some of the Muslims in Holland would do, and did....The Canadian Muslims I am talking of, and it is just one experience, spoke perfect English. Our Dutch Muslims hardly speak any, or take the trouble to speak Dutch. The second generation that does seems to have learned only insults and terrible words to throw at other people.
[Background] When Hirsi Ali was 16, an Iranian-trained Shiite fundamentalist arrived to teach at the previously Anglophile Muslim Girls' Secondary School in Nairobi. The girls had been reading ''Little Women'' and Mark Twain and Dickens. That changed. Sister Aziza, as she was called, wore a full Muslim wrap and gloves. She was so pale, graceful and charismatic that Hirsi Ali's eyes still widen when she speaks of her. In the tender way of an elder sister, Aziza began questioning the girls about their Muslim observance. A Muslim prayed five times a day, she told them, and anyone who did not was not a Muslim. A Muslim did not wear shorts and T-shirts, even to sports class. The teacher took them to eat sweets and read magazines at the Iranian Embassy -- the East African equivalent of being wined and dined. ''Gradually we were covering ourselves,'' Hirsi Ali remembers. ''We were not taking part in sports, we were not laughing anymore, we were not visiting each other anymore. We were praying five times a day. We were reading the Koran. And suddenly we hated Israel with a passion. We didn't even know where Israel was. I was 16, and I had never seen an Israeli, but we hated them because it was 'Muslim' to hate them.'' --NYT Magazine
I try to explain in the book that what might seem as if these radical Muslims who come and indoctrinate young people, as if they force you into something. That’s not the case. It’s an ideology that is consistent with our faith. You know, we are brought up as Muslims. And we are passive Muslims. And in my case Sister Aziza [a teacher trained in Saudi Arabia] comes around and she makes us active. So it’s all very congruent at that stage. And then we were shown pictures of dead people. Bloodied, killed, large numbers of corpses in Iran. And she says this is what the Jews are doing to Muslims; this is what the Americans are doing to Muslims. So there was the sense first of all as a teenager discovering an aim for your life, developing a sense of morality between right and wrong, belonging to a group that is superior, and all non-Muslims were inferior....
[Young Muslims] have no alternative message. There is no active missionary work among the youth telling them, do not become jihadis. They do not use media means as much as the jihadis. They simply — they’re reactive and they don’t seem to be able to compete with the jihadis. And every time there is a debate between a real jihadi and, say, what we have decided to call moderate Muslims, the jihadis win. Because they come with the Koran and quotes from the Koran. The come with quotes from the Hadith and the Sunnah, and the traditions of the prophet. And every assertion they make, whether it is that women should be veiled, or Jews should be killed, or Americans are our enemies, or any of that, they win. Because what they have to say is so consistent with what is written in the Koran and the Hadith. And what the moderates fail to do is to say, listen, that’s all in there, but that wasn’t meant for this context. And we have moved on. We can change the Koran, we can change the Hadith. That’s what’s missing....
Amsterdam Diary: Traffic Control , Jerry PolitexAfter ten hours in the air, flying through pocket after pocket of what the various pilots called "severe turbulence," we finally arrived on Sunday morning at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport. Yesterday's weather report: thunderstorms and worse throughout the Western World. Inside Schiphol, we were pleased to see travelers lounging on the massive, back-to-back, bronze baby men. 35 minutes later we arrived at our lodgings, a 17th century house in the center of Amsterdam, near the intersection of two canals. The weather was in the balmy high 70's, beautiful but moist.
After some hours of sleep in mid-afternoon, we got up, waved at the passengers on the tour boats going by outside our window down below, and observed the human comedy passing by on the three small bridges that made up the intersection. Hungry, we got to eat spinach paneer at our favorite Indian restaurant nearby. (Willie Nelson on his pot bust: "It's a good thing I had a bag of marijuana instead of a bag of spinach. I'd be dead by now.") After a hot chocolate (mit schlag) at the Bulldog on Leidseplein Square, we walked back home in the rain. Going to bed around ten, we thought we had jet-lag beat, but didn't figure on the echoes of late night revelers bouncing off the walls of the narrow, centuries old, five-story houses that lined the canals. (Both echoes and revelers were bouncing, by the way.) Then the mosquitoes from the canals came through our open windows...tbc.
Amsterdam Diary: A Cool, Wet Wind , Jerry PolitexAnother night of attacks by mosquitoes from the canals below our bedroom window was thwarted by our considerate hostess, who purchased a Netherlands orange netting "tent," just like you see in movies about African explorers. To get in the mood, we considered drinking tonic. Instead, barefooted, we sat on chairs outside the house, drank red wine, ate ham, cheese, olives, and grapes, and watched the foot, bike, boat, and duck traffic going by. Later last night, a cool, wet wind came in from the West, the windows went down, and the mosquitoes retreated.
Went out to buy an extra key for the house, but the store that makes keys had this sign in the window: "Montaag Gesloten." On the way back to the house, we observed the method used to get a bed into the tall, narrow houses that stand together, cheek by jowel, along the canals. (Keep in mind that the stairways in these houses are steep, winding and very narrow.) A metal base slides out from under the truck, a power-driven aluminum ladder with an attached platform slides up four stories, a window is removed, and the bed is taken into the house.
When such equipment is unavailable, a more traditional method is used: a rope pulley attached to a overhanging wheel at the very top of the house. Some say that's why the houses are built with a pronounced outward lean, so the object being pulled up doesn't keep hitting the house. Others believe that the slightly larger upper stories were designed because owners of the houses are property-taxed on the basis of the dimensions of the house on the ground floor. Perhaps it's both...tbc.
Amsterdam Diary: Nuts and Bolts , Jerry PolitexIt's misty on the canals and there's a bit of a chill in the air on this Wednesday morning in Amsterdam. A fan in the Apple laptop is acting up, but we hope it won't create a serious problem....
From our location in "centrum" Amsterdam, we can walk just about anywhere in the area, and rapid, inexpensive transportation takes us anywhere else we want to go. Since everyone we encounter speaks English, and the money system is the Euro (@ $1.27 today), one can get around quite easily. Bought a used Thom Yorke ("The Eraser") CD at a nearby store in the Jordan district for E11.90, which is about half the price of a new copy in Europe. The woman at the counter spoke excellent English, and she took my Visa card. More often than not, Amsterdam establishments don't take credit cards. Walked the other way to the Heins grocery store with my shopping bag and bought three medium gormet pizzas, two bottles of red wine, cream for our coffee, two French pastries, two large bars of chocolate, and a large bag of salad. Cost: E30.30. Not bad.
Earlier, we spent the afternoon navigating the canals with Cptn. Jan. The Italians call Venice "the Amsterdam of the South," Frommer claims. No wonder. With 1200 bridges in Amsterdam, the Dutch have the Italians beat. We didn't get to photograph all of the bridges, but we did our best before the digital camera's battery ran out of juice. Did get to take a few pictures near the place Theo van Gogh was murdered by an angry, young Muslim Morroccan...tbc
Amsterdam Diary: Rain , Jerry PolitexIt's nearing dawn, a muted rain has fallen all night. The bricks are slick and shiny on the canal bridge outside our window. A solitary figure in the rain quickly walks over the bridge, collar up, shoulders hunched, umbrella tightly gripped. The amber lights of the street lamps along the canal march into infinity. Smears of light on the surface of the canals. And everywhere, still...silence.
Amsterdam Diary: The Virtual Tourist , BetsyJust wanted you to know I am so enjoying my virtural vacation to Amsterdam. In 1976 I went with a teacher I taught with in Arlington [Texas]. It was the first time we had seen a transvestite who got on the bus with us, and a woman who was talking to her dog in Dutch. We thought that dog must have been so smart. I was moved by the Anne Frank house and the Van Gough and Rembrandt museums. We, too, looked at all these "hooks" on tops of buildings until we saw furniture being hauled up into the rooms, too. We rented a scooter for fun and went out to see the windmills. I'd like to know more about their immigration concerns. The whole, big problem, which is not being adressed is "overpopulation" and preventing birth control in the 3rd world countries, even Romania, too. We rented a car and drove to Berlin in one day on the autobahn. Best to you Jerry, since the beginning of Bush Watch! --Betsy
Amsterdam Diary: Life Style , Jerry PolitexYesterday next to a canal near the red-light district I saw a tall, blond guy in clogs sitting on a bicycle in front of a brown bar called "The Windmill," eating a wedge of cheese and smoking a joint. There, that takes care of all the cliches about Amsterdam. tbc
Amsterdam Diary: Borat Invades Amsterdam, Bush Hosts Dictator , Jerry PolitexAmsterdam is considered a pretty cool place, and everyone wants to sell their cultural wares there. Borat (aka Ali G) was in Amsterdam Thursday and we missed him. Every Wednesday AMSTERDAM WEEKLY, a free tabloid in English, is distributed in bookstores and other high traffic places in the Centrum, listing cultural events of interest for the seven days to come. For instance, we learned that the Michael Moore Jazz Quintet (alto, trumphet, piano, bass, and drums) was playing at the Bimhuis last Tuesday, so we went. Many top musicians think the the Bimhuis, a small auditorium with a cafe inside the Muziekgebouw, is the best there is. While we've not seen 'em all, we think its combination of comfort, design, and intimacy would be hard to beat. Not only that, but the Muziekgebouw, down at the harbor behind Central Station, is a marvelous and imposing modernist structure, and shouldn't be missed. (While you're in the neighborhood, the excellent modern wing of the Stedelijk Museum is temporarily in the old Post Office nearby, and NEMO, is next to it, looking like the prow of a ship.) The Moore group was excellent, in a SILENT WAY Miles way. Anyway, we missed the Weekly this past Wednesday, and we paid the price: no Barat for us.
Here's how the Associated Press described the event:
"The comedian known as "Borat" appeared briefly in Amsterdam Thursday, praising the city's freewheeling nightlife and defending his portrayal of the central Asian country of Kazakhstan. Borat boasted of picking up a date at a popular Amsterdam bar known as a gay meeting place. "This woman reminded me of Kazakhi woman, she was more tall than me, with hair on arms, and some hair on face, and deep voice," he told the Dutch press. Borat Sagdiyev, played by British comic Sacha Baron Cohen, has been criticized as a homophobic, misogynistic, English-mangling caricature — the very traits that endear him to fans of his satire.
"Kazakhstan's government placed four-page advertising inserts in the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune last month, countering Borat's portrayal of the ex-Soviet country as a backward place. Borat said Thursday the ads were placed by agents of neighboring Uzbekistan and threatened to "commence bombardment of their cities with our catapults," if they do not stop. In reality, Kazakhstan profiles itself as a forward-looking pro-Western nation, with double-digit economic growth and immense oil reserves. Last month, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev met with U.S. President George W. Bush to discuss economic ties. (*) Borat claimed that the true aim of Nazarbayev's trip was to promote Cohen's new film, 'Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.'"
(*) "Kazakhstan's political structure concentrates power in the presidency. Current President Nursultan Nazarbayev was elected to a 7 year term in a 2006 election that, many observers note, fell far short of international standards. The legislature and judiciary, as well as regional and local governments are not independent from executive control, and changes or amendments to the Constitution require presidential consent. No opposition parties are represented in the Lower House of Parliament. Corruption remains systemic. While civilian authorities maintained effective control of the security forces, members of the security forces are reported to have committed human rights abuses." --Wikipedia.
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About Us: Bush Watch is a daily political internet magazine based in Austin, Texas, paid for and edited by Politex, a non-affiliated U.S. citizen. Contents, including "Bush Watch" and "Politex," (c) 1998-2005 Politex. The views expressed herein and the views in stories that you are linked to are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of Bush Watch. Permission of the author is required for reprinting posted material, and only requests for reprinting a specific item are considered. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. The duration of the working links is not under our control. Bush Watch has not reviewed all of the sites linked to our site and is not responsible for the content of any off-site pages or any other sites linked to our site. Your linking to any other off-site pages or other sites from our site is at your own risk. Send all e-mail to Politex. We reserve the right to post all e-mail messages sent to us, along with the name of the e-mailer. You must specifically request that your e-mail message or your name not be considered for posting, if that's what you desire.