Majority Christian town offer safe haven to Jews as terrorism threat increases in the Netherlands

By Chris Eyte |
The quay of Urk in the Netherlands.
The quay of Urk in the Netherlands. | Markus Bernet

A town in the Netherlands inhabited by a majority of Christian residents is offering a refuge to Jewish people who feel unsafe in the country as the terrorism threat has increased. 

The local council in Urk, formerly an island within the province of Flevoland, made the publicly open invitation to allow Jews to settle in the town, set in the heart of the so-called Dutch Bibleland.

“The entire municipal council of Urk has expressed its heart-warming support for Israel and the Jewish community in a motion,” said Ronny Naftaniel, 75, former director of the Centrum Informatie en Documentatie Israël (Center for Information and Documentation Israel), based in The Hague. A known spokesman for Jewish human rights within the Dutch Jewish community, Naftaniel’s father was a German Jew who survived the Holocaust. 

News of the friendship shown by the Dutch town residents contrasts with a stern warning that the terrorism threat in the Netherlands had increased to “substantial” after the Nationaal Coördinator Terrorismebestrijding en Veiligheid (NCTV), the Dutch counter terrorism unit, issued a statement Tuesday, June 11.

“With the previous Terrorism Threat Assessment in the Netherlands (DTN), the threat level was increased to substantial (level 4),” read the NCTV statement. “The conceivable terrorist threat has increased slightly in recent months, but remains within the bandwidth of threat level 4. This means that there is a real chance that an attack will take place in the Netherlands.” 

Jihadism remained “the most important terrorist threat against the Netherlands”, added the NCTV, stating, “The chance that persons or groups in the Netherlands will commit a terrorist attack has increased slightly in the past six months.”

Urk has a population of 21,000 people of which 90 percent attend a local church. It is not the first time that the town has shown support for Jewish people. Some Urk residents also fly Israeli flags as a sign of solidarity. 

Teams of residents have traveled to the Ukraine-Moldova border, reported The Jerusalem Post in April 2022, to support Jewish refugees fleeing in fear after Russia invaded Ukraine. For the past two years, the organized teams have traveled twice per week to the location, with help from a rabbi and lawyer from Chisinau, the capital of Moldova.

“We see so many instances of kindness, of people giving to others what they have and what they don’t have,” said one of the Urk volunteers called “Fred”, speaking to Arutz Sheva. “And through it all, we’re doing our part to give people hope and life, and they’re so grateful. 

“We take them to a safe environment, a place where there are no air raid alarms, where no bombs fall, where they can finally sleep in peace knowing that they’re safe.”

There is a core population of 40,000 Jews living in Ukraine, according to the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.