AMSTERDAM (JTA) — The son of a Dutch couple that hid Jews from the Nazis is seeking the removal of his father’s name from a monument that was built on what used to be a Palestinian village.
Erik Ader, whose father and mother, Bastiaan Jan and Johanna Ader, are believed by the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum to have helped at least 200 Jews during the Holocaust, made the plea in an interview published last week by the Dutch NOS public broadcaster. The article defined the monument as “abuse of Ader’s memory” because of Israel’s “ethnic cleansing.”
Erik Ader, a former ambassador of the Netherlands to Norway, said he “cannot ask his father,” who was executed by the Nazis in 1944, “what he thinks of how his name is connected to this injustice but it’s not difficult to guess, knowing what he stood for.”
Erik Ader was referring to the unveiling many years ago by the Jewish National Fund of a monument honoring his father in a forest that was planted on the ruins of Bayt Nattif, a Palestinian village located about 13 miles southwest of Jerusalem, that was destroyed after it was captured by the Israel Defense Forces in a battle during Israel’s War of Independence.
According to the NOS article, which erroneously states that the village was taken over by “Jewish militias,” Erik Ader intends to donate trees for a forest that will be named after his father near a Palestinian village in the West Bank. He has traveled to the village to participate in the unveiling ceremony of a plaque honoring his father.
In a statement to NOS, the Jewish National Fund expressed its respect for the actions of Erik Ader’s parents, adding the monument was legally constructed on state-owned lands.
The Israeli Defense Forces captured Bayt Nattif as part of Operation Ha-Har, whose goal was to drive away Egyptian forces that had camped amid Palestinian villages in the Beit Guvrin area near Jerusalem.
Backed by Egyptian forces, the area’s villages served as launching points for attacks on Jewish vehicles using roads that connected the Coastal Plain with southern entrances into Jerusalem. In September 1948, two months before the IDF took control of Bayt Nattif in a battle, such attacks ended in the killing of 19 Israelis and the wounding of 68, according to historian Alon Kadish.
According to IDF intelligence, Arab militants camped out in Bayt Nattif and local civilians were implicated in the slaying of 35 Israeli troops in January 1948 who were attempting to break through to besieged Jewish settlements in Gush Etzion in the West Bank.