US/World News

Dutch prof questions Holocausts, calls Jews “parasites”

A professor emeritus from an esteemed university in the Netherlands whose father was a Nazi called Jews “parasites” in a televised interview. Jan Tollenaere, a lecturer on medicinal chemistry who retired from the Utrecht University in 2001, also questioned the historical record on the Holocaust in an interview aired Thursday, Dec. 14, by the Canvas broadcaster in Belgium about children of Nazi collaborators. Tollenaere, whose father, Raymond, was in charge of propaganda for the Belgian pro-Nazi collaborationist government of Flanders during the German occupation of Belgium in World War II, said Jews “are not a nice people, I don’t feel any warmth toward them.” They are, he added, “parasites, speculators and mean people.” In the interview, Tollenaere described himself as an antisemite. About the Holocaust, Tollenaere said: “Was it really a reality? I think there was propaganda in play to underscore the Holocaust, to exaggerate it and cynically use it, leverage it to extract money.”

A Utrecht University spokeswoman said her institution “fully and clearly distances itself” from Tollenaere, whom she described as a “former employee and nothing more.” But Tollenaere’s page on the university’s website does not make clear he is no longer active with the university or that he retired from it. Asked whether, given his heritage, the university had looked into Tollenaere’s politics prior to hiring him, she said, “We don’t judge people according to their parents; that would be unfair. We look at faculty and prospective faculty according to their actions.”

The Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, the Netherlands’ foremost watchdog on antisemitism, the Forum of Jewish Organizations of the Flemish Region in Belgium and the Joods Actueel Jewish monthly in Antwerp condemned Tollenaere. The Forum also criticized Canvas, the broadcaster, for offering “a podium to the views of Tollenaere’s father.”

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