The May 4 lecture in Amsterdam will not be nominated by Abdelkader Benali. The writer has withdrawn after controversy about controversial statements about Jews in 2006.
“There should be no doubts on this stage,” Benali writes on Twitter about his decision. The writer was to give the speech at the commemoration meeting in De Nieuwe Kerk, prior to the National Commemoration on Dam Square.
The controversial statements were recorded in 2010 by war reporter Harald Doornbos in a column in HP / De Tijd. The two met in Beirut in July 2006, during the early days of the war between Israel and the Hezbollah terrorist organization.
“Benali breaks loose”, Doornbos writes. “Since he is a successful writer and has a little more money, he comes more often to Amsterdam-Zuid. Gosh, it appears to be full of Jews. And the most annoying thing is: there are so many Jews! Amsterdam Jews. You feel like a Moroccan. hardly at ease. It seems like Israel. Very annoying all. So many Jews, that just feels crazy. “
Benali acknowledges that he made the statements. “But you have to see it in the atmosphere we were in,” he said yesterday in Het Parool. “There was war, there were bombings and we were lying on the ground, I had a glass of wine. We let off steam during that drink. I said it in a drunken mood. It was black humor, irony and corniness, in retrospect out of place.”
Benali tweets that he has had “tough, but also good” conversations with representatives of the Jewish community. “They were of good will,” said the writer. “Unfortunately they had to conclude that there is not enough support for my nomination.” Benali’s lecture, entitled The silence of the other, will be published.
The Jewish interest group CIDI calls the situation untenable. “He should have explicitly distanced himself from his statements and he has not done that,” director Hanna Luden told the NOS.
The fact that Benali said he was drunk only makes things worse, according to Luden. “You can also think: when you are drunk, you say what you think more quickly. That means that he should have taken an even sharper distance. Somewhere it is also tragic, because he has problems with this himself. Yet, as far as I am concerned, there is no other option than withdraw. “
The National Committee May 4 and 5 had invited the writer to the lecture because on previous occasions he was “deeply concerned with war victims.” The organization says it respects Benali’s choice and regrets the unrest that has arisen.
It is not yet known who will present the May 4 lecture.