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Dutch premier Balkenende visits Dutch-Israeli seniors’ home

Ties with old country remain

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

HAIFA, Israel – The Dutch community in Israel recently was elated to host Dutch Premier J.P. Balkenende at Dutch-Israeli seniors’ home Beit Joles in Haifa. The stop at Beit Joles was part of a visit Balkenende made to Abbas, the new leader of the Palestinian Authority, and to Israel where he participated in a ceremony at the Yad Vashem commemorative centre in Jerusalem.

Many of the seniors at Beit Joles used the opportunity to evaluate their ties with the ‘old country.’ Anneke Hijmans who survived the German occupation at six subsequent hiding places, reasoned that that era had shown the very worst of human nature but also the very opposite. She still has warm ties with the Netherlands.

Alfred Frank (85) who has lived in Israel since 1950, is amazed that the Netherlands after all those years still tucks at him. Frank who escaped to England during the war and enlisted in the merchant marine, expressed his concern about the rise of anti-Semitism, also in the Netherlands. The veteran of the seas still praises Queen Wilhelmina for her determination during the war years.

Beit Joles’ eldest resident, Sara Verdooner (97) is far more critical of her former country. She felt letdown after the war. “Five years of German occupation left its mark,” but Verdooner expressed gratitude for the premier’s visit.

Beit Joles originally was built with the support of the Dutch government.