The Story of 'Pak-jePen' – or Take-A-Pen in Holland
by Endre MOZES* - January 2006
From tulip bulbs - an idea grew - In October 2000 I met in Haifa a group of Dutch people bringing lots of tulip bulbs as the Christenen Voor Israel's present to the Israeli people. These Dutchmen, led by Pee Koelewijn, came to cheer up Israelis, to help them out from their depression - after Israel received in September 2000 the terror-wave of the 'armed intefada' as the Palestinian response to Israeli hopes and concessions following the Oslo accord.
These Dutchmen's love and support to Israel, in time of a tsunami of hatred in the international press which quoted uncritically the Arab narrative, gave me the inspiration to call Israel's friends into the global debate. Not Jews only, not in English only, first of all in continental Europe. The idea of international grass-roots letter-writing for the truth was born of tulip bulbs.
I continued to write letters to the media but now I started to look for friends in Israel and more around the world to do the same - and it started to pick up.
Take-A-Pen first on abroad in Holland - On 2 January 2001 I met the international board of the Dutch Christians4Israel at their annual meeting in Jerusalem, and presented them the idea of public letter-writing for the truth about Israel. The same year in September, days only after 9/11, I flew to Holland to visit CVI in their headquarters in Nijkerk. We had four days of encouraging meetings with CVI leadership, with EU Parliament members Rijk Van Dam and Meyers, and five well-attended evening meetings with different groups of CVI membership, around Nijkerk and as far as Northern Holland. People liked our talks and enthusiastically agreed that the Dutch media's distortions against Israel were unbearable and one should do something.
I did not know then yet how hard it would be to transform this frustration and enthusiasm into effective action. The problems were enormous; like a terribly misled and misleading Dutch press almost homogeneously hostile to Israel; socialist governments which bought in to Arab rhetoric; a Jewish leadership with strong Liberal Party orientation, rather 'politically correctly' criticizing Israel. The lack of any tradition of public letter-writing by the CVI public - the typical shyness of a Dutch Christian - was a further difficulty.
Pak je Pen Successes- However, it started to move ahead. The CVI Board, led by Roger van der Oordt, Rev. Willem Glasshouwer, Rev. Jaap deVreugd, approved my proposal that they would launch a public letter-writing activity. They chose the excellent Pieter Benard, with years of working experience behind him in Israel, to set up and lead Pak je Pen - what means 'Take your Pen' in Dutch.
- The first Pak je Pen success was that, when Take-A-Pen's website was set up by the end of 2001, Dutch became one of the first and most active languages on it, with plenty of letters shown on our popular Dutch web page. The fact that Take-A-Pen's first webmaster, Yair Malachi, was fluent in Dutch - also helped.
- The second and maybe largest success of Pak je Pen was that, when a few letters of Pak je Pen members were first published, they saw that it broke an ice in Holland; other people followed them and dared to write letters defending the truth on Israel.
- The most famous success of CVI and Pak je Pen was, however, their well-organized presence around the infamous case in the International Court in The Hague against Israel's Wall - actually an Anti-Terror Barrier. Pak je Pen and CVI people stood with the photos of hundreds of Israeli terror-victims at the entrance to the Court, for two weeks from morning till night. (Just think of it; Israel did not continue the campaign further during the court hearings due to - lack of budget!)
- CVI and Pak je Pen became recognized as advocates of Israel's case and they were regularly invited to TV and other public debates.
But, Pak je Pen's performance has not always been at its peak. Pieter is obviously too good and therefore wanted for many other projects. A major problem is that even Israel's friends are left to the cunning and professional pro-Arab PR and it is not countered by a similarly influential pro-truth and pro-Israeli information service.
The future of Pak je Pen - Pieter told me that Pak je Pen has recently been re-organized with some thirty interested members.
We believe that in the near future Take-A-Pen and Christenen Voor Israel can and will invest again the proper human and other resources, to turn Pak je Pen, more than ever, to a significant public opinion forming power on matters of Israel and the Palestinians in Holland.
* Endre MOZES is the founding chairman of Take-A-Pen for Truth on Israel