Press Review Tuesday 22 June 2010
“Jewish decoys”: the answer to anti-Semitic aggression? Several of today's papers report on a proposed new method to counter aggression towards the Jewish community in the Netherlands: "Jewish decoys". In other words, law enforcers posing as members of the Jewish community in order to catch offenders red handed. In de Volkskrant a spokesperson for the City of Amsterdam says the method fits with the mayor's "aim to examine unorthodox approaches to stop violence involving discrimination".
In its editorial, the populist De Telegraaf speaks of "abhorrent violence" and a "climate of fear" in which "Jews in at least six Amsterdam neighbourhoods often cannot cross the street wearing a skullcap without being insulted, spat at or even attacked." It calls for the authorities to "take firm action" and argues that if there are problems gathering evidence, then the use of "Jewish decoys" should be considered.
De Volkskrant reports that the decoy method is becoming something of a trend: "over the past two years, decoy prostitutes, decoy gays and decoy grannies have all been pressed into service." The police in Gouda are particularly pleased with their decoy granny. A police spokeswoman states proudly "If we receive several reports of street robbery in a certain location, we send out the granny. That soon quietens things down."
Coalition chemistry between unlikely bedfellows The Netherlands’ efforts to form a new coalition government continue apace. Since attempts to form a centre-right coalition seem to have foundered, it’s now time for the conservative liberal VVD to negotiate with three centre-left parties: Labour, D66 Democrats and GreenLeft. It’s not an option that has VVD leader and election winner Mark Rutte clapping his hands in glee. “It’s a complex option; the differences are enormous,” he grumbles in nrc.next.
But the photos in today’s dailies tell a different story, depicting the party leaders grinning and chatting away as they relax on a park bench during a break in talks. NRC.next confirms “the personal chemistry between the four protagonists is excellent”. It’s early days yet, though, as the parties are still “sniffing around each other” – to use the Dutch media’s favourite metaphor of the moment.
Both Trouw and de Volkskrant dip into political history and point out that the VVD’s reluctance doesn’t necessarily mean the talks are doomed. De Volkskrant notes that a previous coalition involving the VVD and Labour “wasn’t exactly born out of love” and that the VVD leader at the time “spent most of the time staring indifferently out of the window” during the negotiations. Nonetheless, a coalition agreement emerged - even if it did take three and a half months - and it was one that saw both unlikely bedfellows go on to do well at the following election. But, as Trouw observes, back in 1994 the Netherlands was enjoying a period of unprecedented economic growth, while now the country has to battle its way out of a deep economic crisis.
Anger at author who’s spicing up Anne Frank’s diary AD, De Telegraaf and Trouw all report that a new book based on the story of Anne Frank has “sparked resentment” and “anger”. In British writer Sharon Dogar’s fictional work entitled Annexed, Anne has a sexual relationship with the boy ‘next door’ she went into hiding with to escape Nazi persecution during World War II. Despite the author’s protestations that there is no sex in her book and that she treats her characters with the utmost respect, a spokesperson for the Anne Frank Foundation slams the book as “tasteless” and “sensationalist”: “the decision to use Anne Frank’s name in this way leaves me speechless.”
In her world famous diary, Anne Frank does write that she was in love with her neighbour Peter van Pels for a while, but the Foundation dismisses any suggestion of a sexual relationship “It is a beautiful, open-hearted and pure diary,” they insist. The author also comes in for criticism from Anne Frank’s only living relative, Buddy Elias, who says simply “I do not think that their terrible fate should be used to invent some fictitious story.”
World Cup fatigue sets in It looks like World Cup fatigue may be setting in among the Dutch press. Trouw wonders balefully “Will things actually get interesting after the first round?”. The paper blames “the increased capacity of minor countries to organise their defence well … leading inevitably to a number of deadly boring games in which a breakthrough is only forced at the last minute, if at all”.
NRC Handelsblad takes a similar tack and notes wryly that “international football is inferior” and that “viewers have been spoiled by the quality of the Champions League games”. It points out that “a national team is a temporary combination of private companies on two legs” and that “any trainer who can make a unit out of that in three weeks is worth his weight in gold”.
There are glimmers of hope though. NRC.next describes how Portugal “demolished the North Korean wall” yesterday to hammer home no less than seven goals in “a scintillating demonstration of football”. The paper also has a recommendation for its readers: “the aficionado of entertaining football need look no further than Chile”. It praises the Chilean squad’s Argentinian coach Marcelo Bielsa for putting together “a team with quick, attacking and skilful players”.
Princess Mabel wears the pants AD takes a look back at the big royal event of the year so far: last weekend’s wedding of Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria. But it’s the Dutch Princess Mabel that the paper focuses on and her decision to wear a wacky creation that combines a trouser suit with an evening dress. It appears to have all the royalty and fashion watchers in a bit of a tizz. As one puts it “Part of me thought ‘ooh that’s lovely’ but at the same time I thought ‘oh dear … pants!’”
Others were less conflicted. One “royalty and etiquette expert” – nice work if you can get it – decries the princess’ pants as “a provocation … an attention-grabbing stunt”. Even the Director of the Maastricht Centre for Gender and Diversity gets in on the act: “Princesses live a corseted existence … I think she wore her trouser-dress combo because she doesn’t want to embody that fairytale. She wants to be herself.”
As this storm in a royal teacup continues to rage, I can’t help but feel a little sorry for Mabel’s spouse Prince Friso, who looks more than a little sheepish in the accompanying photo as he toddles along beside his designer wife, dressed exactly as protocol dictates.
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