Palestinian protesters gather as Amsterdam opens Holocaust museum

Palestinian protesters gather as Amsterdam opens Holocaust museum

The Netherlands opened the National Holocaust Museum on Sunday with a ceremony presided over by the Dutch king as well as Israeli President Isaac Herzog, whose presence prompted protest because of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.

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

The museum “gives a face and a voice to the Jewish victims of persecution in the Netherlands,” the Dutch King Willem-Alexander said in the address at the inaugural ceremony on Sunday. It also “shows us the devastating consequences that antisemitism can have,” he added.

“That is why we must continue to be aware of how things began and how they went from bad to worse,” the king said. Earlier, the king and the Israeli president visited Amsterdam’s famous Portuguese Synagogue.

Herzog hailed the Netherlands’s initiative to create a new Holocaust museum that he said was a testament to raising antisemitism around the world.

“At this pivotal moment in time, this institution sends a clear powerful statement,” Herzog said. “Remember! Remember the horrors born of hatred, antisemitism and racism, and never again allow them to flourish.”

Sunday’s ceremony came against a backdrop of Israel’s devastating attacks on Gaza that followed the deadly incursions by Hamas in southern Israel on 7 October.

Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered amid tightened security at the Waterloo Square in central Amsterdam, near the museum and the synagogue, waving Palestinian flags, chanting “Never again is now,” and demanding an end of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

The protest leaders emphasized they were against Herzog’s presence, not the museum and what it commemorates.