Slain Filmmaker Left Complex Legacy

By Marc Perelman

Published November 19, 2004, issue of November 19, 2004.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Several Muslim activists with possible connections to international terrorist networks have been arrested in the wake of the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. Earlier this month in Amsterdam, the anti-Islamic filmmaker was killed by a Muslim militant, igniting a wave of violent incidents against churches and mosques in the Netherlands.

Ruben Vis, the secretary general of the Nederlands-Israëlitisch Kerkgenootschap, the main Dutch Jewish organization, said the violent incidents that followed the murder had raised concerns in the Jewish community, especially since a letter stuck on Van Gogh’s body by his murderer contained threats against Jews.

Only one Jewish group put out a statement condemning the killing; the rest remained silent.

While most of the media’s attention has focused on Van Gogh’s rants against Muslims, he also had his share of disputes with the local Jewish community.

He accused novelist Leon de Winter of using his Jewishness to sell books; during a long legal battle, Van Gogh portrayed de Winter as having barbed wire wrapped around his penis and yelling “Auschwitz” whiel having sex with his wife.

In 1991, television anchor Sonja Barend and a Jewish organization sued Van Gogh after he joked in an article about Jewish filmmakers and writers: “Hey, it smells like caramel today — well then, they must be burning the diabetic Jews.” The court slapped him with a fine for antisemitism.

In recent years, he shifted his criticism toward Muslims, most recently in a short film called “Submission” that featured scantily clad women with Koran verses scrawled on their bodies.

Vis said there was “no question” that Van Gogh harbored antisemitic and anti-Muslim feelings.

“The Jews did the right thing by bringing him to court,” he told the Forward. “The Muslims did not do so — and in retrospect it might have been a good thing” if they had used legal means to counter Van Gogh’s polemics.






Find us on Facebook!
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • The Cossacks were a feature in every European Jewish kid's worst nightmare. Tuvia Tenenbom went looking for the real-life variety in Ukraine — but you won't believe what he found. http://forward.com/articles/202181/my-hunt-for-the-cossacks-in-ukraine/?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.