The editor of the Netherlands’ main Jewish weekly announced in a column that she is leaving for Israel because of rising antisemitism here.
“I am leaving for the only country where getting called a dirty Jew simply means I have to take a bath,” wrote Esther Voet, the longtime editor in chief of the 155-year-old Nieuw Israëlietisch Weekblad. She cited “worrisome political developments” in the Netherlands, naming Denk and Bij1 – new far-left populist movements embroiled in antisemitism scandals.
Voet allowed the column to make waves for a while before announcing that it was merely one of her paper’s elaborate pranks for Purim.
Her joke and the reaction to it, however, reflected deep concerns about the future of the Netherlands, where recently three people in Utrecht were killed by a Turkish immigrant in a suspected terrorist attack, and where antisemitic incidents grew to record numbers last year.
Among the people who fell for the prank was Paul Tang, the head of the Dutch Labor Party at the European Parliament. “What a shame, for many reasons,” he wrote on Twitter before wishing Voet “good luck and success in your new place.”
Janine van Hulsteijn, a local politician for the ruling People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, wrote to Voet on Twitter: “I understand your reasons” and wished her good luck.
Another victim of Voet’s prank was Gert-Jan Segers, a lawmaker and the leader of the Christian Union Party in the House of Representatives. He wished Voet the best of luck, adding that “I am unspeakably saddened that the atmosphere here is becoming increasingly dark.”
Segers was a good sport after learning it was a prank. Signaling relief, he added: “Learned something new about Jewish holidays.” Other interlocutors were less understanding, with Labor activist Frits de Kaart calling it a “disgusting joke.”
Some mainstream media also were duped by the article (in which, incidentally, the first letters of the first seven sentences spell out the Dutch-language word for Purim). The VillaMedia magazine, which covers the media, curiously omitted from its report Voet’s references to antisemitism but quoted her intention to do more yoga in Israel.
As for Voet’s many haters — she is a lightning rod for vitriol against Jews and Israel — they seemed overjoyed with what they took at face value. Some just tweeted “good riddance,” others responded with misogynist memes, including one reading “bye bitch.”
Explaining the Purim prank to non-Jewish Twitter followers, Voet wrote that the holiday is comparable to “Carnival or April 1. And the closer [the prank] comes to the truth, the harder it is to tell them apart.”