Amsterdam politician blames Trump for kosher eatery attack

AMSTERDAM — A senior politician for a major coalition party in the Netherlands blamed US President Donald Trump for an assault against a kosher restaurant by a man carrying a Palestinian flag.

A spokesperson for the left-leaning Democrats 66 party made the accusation Thursday, hours after the assault on the HaCarmel restaurant, which some see as a reaction to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday.

Reinier van Dantzig, who heads the party’s faction on the Amsterdam city council, wrote on Twitter: “How awful that this happened. It shows how thoughtless statements by the leader of the free world have direct consequences. Let us show clearly that there is no room for intolerance in Amsterdam!”

Herman Loonstein, a Dutch-Jewish leader who heads the Federative Jewish Netherlands group, condemned van Dantzig’s statement as “cowardly and obscene,” adding it was a form of “victim blaming.”

Separately, Han ten Broeke, a senior lawmaker for the ruling People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, said he would pay the restaurant’s owner a solidarity visit Thursday.

And Arnoud Proos, a spokesperson for the Reformed Political Party, a pro-Israel coalition partner, booked a table for 15 at HaCarmel for Thursday evening to show the party’s solidarity with the owners and the Jewish community.

Police said the perpetrator, whom a spokesperson described as a “pro-Palestinian activist,” was a 29-year-old foreigner with a temporary residence permit. Police would not indicate his nationality, the WNL television channel reported. The suspect is scheduled to be released Thursday as per the maximum detainment period afforded by the law for suspects arrested for alleged vandalism, WNL reported.

The Organization of Jewish Communities in The Netherlands, or NIK, said in a statement the incident was “nothing less than an act of terror.”

Witnesses of the attack, which occurred as passersby and two police officers looked on, said the perpetrator shouted “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “Allah is the greatest,” and “Palestine” as he smashed the restaurant’s windows, kicked down its door and took out an Israeli flag from the interior, which he then threw on the sidewalk. The officers arrested him after he returned with the flag.

The restaurant’s employees were inside the restaurant during the attack but no patrons were present as it had not yet opened. No one was injured in the incident, which resulted in hundreds of dollars worth of damage.

Democrats 66 is the largest party in Amsterdam’s city council, with 14 seats out of 45. It received 19 seats out of 150 in the Dutch parliament in the general elections in March. One of the party’s cabinet ministers, Sigrid Kaag, is a former employee of the UNRWA agency for Palestinian refugees and is married to a Palestinian diplomat.

In an interview with Dutch television in 1996, Kaag accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of racism against Arabs and Palestinians, though the Foreign Ministry said her statements about Netanyahu’s alleged racism were merely a reiteration of claims by Netanyahu’s Israeli detractors.

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