The Israeli President's opening of the Holocaust Museum in the Netherlands raises concerns among some

AMSTERDAM (AP) — The Netherlands opened the National Holocaust Museum on Sunday with a ceremony presided over by the Dutch king and Israeli President Isaac Herzog, whose presence sparked protests over Israel's actions. Military campaign in Gaza.

the Museum in Amsterdam It tells the stories of some of the 102,000 Jews deported from the Netherlands and murdered in Nazi camps, as well as the history of their structural persecution under German occupation in World War II before the deportations began.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander said in his speech during the opening ceremony on Sunday that the museum “gives a face and a voice to the victims of Jewish persecution in the Netherlands.” He added that it “also shows us the devastating consequences that anti-Semitism can have.”

“This is why we must continue to realize how things started and how they went from bad to worse,” the king said. Earlier, the King and the Israeli President visited the famous Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam.

Herzog praised the Netherlands' initiative to create a new Holocaust museum amid what he said was stirring up anti-Semitism around the world.

“At this pivotal moment, this institution is sending a strong and clear statement,” Herzog said. “Remember! Remember the horrors of hatred, anti-Semitism and racism, and do not allow them to flourish again.”

Sunday's ceremony came against the backdrop of devastating Israeli attacks on Gaza following deadly incursions by Hamas into southern Israel on October 7.

Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered amid tight security measures in Waterloo Square in central Amsterdam, near the museum and the synagogue. They waved Palestinian flags, chanted “It will never happen again now,” and demanded an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and an immediate end to violations. Ceasefire in Gaza.

The new National Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, March 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Protest leaders emphasized that they were against Herzog's presence, not the museum and what commemorates him.

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“For us Jews, these museums are part of our history, of our past,” Joanna Cavaco, an anti-war activist with the Jewish group Erev Rav, said, addressing the crowd before the ceremony. She added: “How can such a sacred place be used to normalize genocide today?”

Three-quarters of Dutch Jews were among the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis.

Herzog was among the Israeli leaders cited in an order issued by the Supreme Council in January United Nations court Israel must do everything in its power to prevent death and destruction and anything Acts of genocide in Gaza. He accused the International Court of Justice of distorting his comments in the ruling. Israel has strongly rejected claims made by South Africa in the lawsuit that the military campaign in Gaza violates the Genocide Convention.

“I am disgusted by the way they distorted my words, using very partial and fragmented quotes, with the aim of supporting a baseless legal dispute.” Herzog saiddays after the ruling.

A Dutch pro-Palestinian organization, the Rights Forum, described Herzog's presence as “a slap in the face to Palestinians who can only watch helplessly as Israel kills their loved ones and destroys their land.”

In a statement issued before the opening of the Jewish Cultural District on Sunday the museum She said she was “deeply concerned about the war and the consequences that this conflict has had, first and foremost on the citizens of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.”

Star of David badge with Dutch word "quality"or "The Jew"worn during World War II, is on display at the new National Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, March 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

The Star of David badge is on display at the new National Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, March 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Ten buttons, which a curator said represent thousands and thousands of Jews murdered in Nazi gas chambers, are on display at the new National Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, March 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter DeJong)

Ten buttons, representing thousands of Jews murdered in Nazi gas chambers, are on display at the new National Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (AP Photo/Peter DeJong)

“It is even more disturbing that the National Holocaust Museum is opening while the war continues to rage,” she said. “This makes our mission even more urgent.”

The museum is located in a former teachers' training college that was used as a secret escape route to help about 600 Jewish children escape the clutches of the Nazis.

Exhibits include a prominent photograph of a boy walking past corpses in Bergen-Belsen after the liberation of the concentration camp, and mementos from the lives lost: a doll, an orange dress made of parachute material, and a set of 10 buttons excavated on the camp grounds. Sobibor camp.

The walls of one room are covered with the texts of hundreds of laws that discriminated against Jews and were enacted by the German occupiers of the Netherlands, to show how the Nazi regime, with the help of Dutch civil servants, dehumanized Jews before their arrests.

The Dutch king said the museum commemorates the stories of people who were “isolated from the rest of Dutch society, robbed of their rights, deprived of legal protection, arrested, imprisoned, separated from their loved ones and murdered.”

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Barbara Sork contributed from Nice, France. Associated Press writers Mike Corder in Amsterdam and Melanie Liedman in Tel Aviv, Israel, contributed to this report.

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