Creating new perspectives since 2009

Dutch politician barred from government over alleged spying for Israel

June 18, 2024 at 2:52 pm

Gidi Markuszower (PVV) looks on during a debate at the Dutch parliament, at Tweede Kamer on May 16, 2023 in Den Haag, Netherlands. [Jeroen Meuwsen/DeFodi Images via Getty Images]

An Israeli-born, far-right Dutch politician, Gidi Markuszower, will not serve in the new Dutch government after concerns were raised by the Dutch National Security Service (AIVD) over the 46-year-old passing sensitive information to a “foreign power”. It is believed that the foreign power in question is Israel.

The decision to withdraw Markuszower’s candidacy for the position of minister for asylum and migration was announced by Prime Minister Geert Wilders, whose Party for Freedom (PVV) had initially nominated him for the role.

Markuszower, a long-time senior PVV official, is one of several Jewish politicians who have risen to prominence on the far right in Europe, highlighting a growing alliance between the European far right, Israel and Zionism. Israel’s state ideology is regarded by experts on anti-Muslim hatred as one of the five pillars of Islamophobia across the globe. The other four are the nexus of ideas and institutions including neo-conservatism, political and media establishments, far-right movements and corporate interests.

This is not the first time that Markuszower is said to have faced scrutiny from the Dutch authorities. In 2010, he was forced to withdraw his candidacy for parliament after being flagged by the AIVD as a possible security threat. Former Interior Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin reportedly threatened to take action against the PVV if they presented Markuszower’s candidacy.

Recent reports suggest that Ballin sent a letter to Wilders, warning him that the AIVD believed Markuszower was passing information to a “foreign power”, widely assumed to be Israel. Markuszower, who was raised in the Netherlands, began his career as a Dutch spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party and has made support for Israel and opposition to Muslim immigration key aspects of his political platform.

The decision to bar Markuszower from the government has put pressure on Wilders to explain the findings of the AIVD’s background check and justify Markuszower’s continued presence in the Dutch senate, where he has access to sensitive national security information.

READ: Espionage is a dirty game that Israel plays with impunity

Markuszower’s alleged passing of secret information to Israel has several historical precedents. Jonathan Pollard, a former US Navy intelligence analyst, for example, was arrested in 1985 for passing classified information to Israel. Over several years, Pollard provided Israeli intelligence with thousands of classified documents. In 1987, he was sentenced to life in prison and served 30 years before being released on parole in 2015. He now lives in Israel, where he was welcomed “home” as a national hero.

READ: Israel is impeding America’s role as a world leader

Egyptian-born Israeli spy Eli Cohen, infiltrated the highest levels of the Syrian government in the 1960s. His intelligence contributions were crucial during the Six Day War. When discovered by the Syrian authorities, Cohen was captured and executed in 1965.

A former US Army engineer, Ben-Ami Kadish, was charged in 2008 with passing classified documents to Israel in the 1980s, including information on nuclear weapons and fighter jets. Kadish pleaded guilty and received a sentence involving a fine and house arrest.

Lawrence Franklin, a former Pentagon analyst, was accused in the early 2000s of passing classified information to Israel through the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Convicted in 2006, Franklin was sentenced to 12 years in prison, later reduced to ten months of home confinement. Despite this, AIPAC is still allowed to play a key role in funding US politicians to lobby on behalf of Israel.

FBI translator Shamai Leibowitz was convicted in 2010 for leaking classified documents to a blogger. Although he claimed his actions aimed to expose wrongdoing, the nature of the documents raised concerns about potential Israeli interests. Leibowitz was sentenced to 20 months in prison.

Dr Robert Soblen, an American psychiatrist, was convicted in the early 1960s of espionage for passing information to Israel. Part of a larger spy ring, Soblen was sentenced to life imprisonment but fled to Israel. Initially granted asylum, he was later deported back to the US. Soblen committed suicide in 1962 to avoid extradition.

What continues to amaze many observers, is that Israel is happy to spy on its main ally and benefactor, the US. And that Washington continues to dance to Israel’s tune.

READ: Does Israel hold all the cards in Gaza?