Anti-Semitism in the Netherlands?
A few years ago in Amsterdam I was shown the most popular manual published in the Netherlands, in Dutch, on how to raise one’s children as proper Muslims. The book included virulently anti-Semitic passages, based on Muslim holy texts. After the Jewish community objected, the authorities forced the publisher to put white tape over the offending passages. The tape could easily be peeled off by purchases so that these words could be read.
Or consider what has just happened. A Turkish-Dutch researcher publicized systematic anti-Semitism among other Muslims in the Netherlands, including a dramatic video that showed teenage boys calling for genocide and praising Hitler.
What happened? The researcher, Mehmet Sahin, had to go into hiding after being accused by others of being a Jew and a Zionist.
The growing anti-Semitism in Western Europe is like that. The European Union, governments, and the media paste a white tape over the problem to conceal it or pretend to do something about it. But when one peels back the tape the hatred is revealed as growing and being passed onto the next generation.
While one doesn’t want to exaggerate rising anti-Semitism in Europe – mostly from Muslim immigrants and their children but facilitated and even reflected by the increasingly intellectually hegemonic Left – the growth of anti-Jewish hatred is enormous. Some people view this as fear-mongering, pointing to other developments that show the glass to be half full. Indeed, the hostility of European governments toward Israel has often been exaggerated. The situation is actually better than it was 20 or 30 years ago.
Yet the broader question is one of social trends and the behavior of institutions, especially the mass media and universities, which are generally becoming not just critical but viciously so of Israel and periodically Jews generally.
Take the Netherlands, a mild-mannered country that prides itself on moderation in all things. Traditionally, the Netherlands was friendly to Israel and while it has always had its anti-Semites and even, historically, fascists, it had far less proportionately than other European countries. In other words, if things are bad in the Netherlands, they’re really bad.
Last year, the chief rabbi of the Netherlands spoke in a published interview in which he spoke extensively about his love for the country, the good treatment of Jews there, and other such points. Asked at the end, however, whether there was any future for Jews in the country he said, “No,” and advised the community to move to Israel.
That doesn’t mean the Netherlands is a maelstrom of anti-Semitism. It isn’t. But there’s a growing anti-Semitic sector which consists of two parts: Muslim immigrants and their offspring, and the far left that is so often dominant in the Netherlands –as in other Western countries.
The Dutch government, unlike others in Europe, has defined Hezbollah as a terrorist group and while less favorable to Israel than its predecessor remains on good terms with Israel. Yet shocking slanders appear about Israel in the mainstream Dutch media.
To cite just one example, on March 17, 2010, NRC Handelsblad, Holland’s most prestigious newspaper, published a front-page article claiming the “Israel lobby” was threatening to defeat President Barack Obama’s health plan to blackmail him regarding his Israel policy. While statements on other matters by Israel’s government are evaluated in a cynical way, the basis for this story was a single left-wing blogger.
An observer who wants to avoid exaggerating the problem warns about: “A rising tide of anti-Semitism that the top level is unwilling to address out of a fear of being labeled a racist or out of a fear of losing the all-important Muslim vote,” which is vital for the Left in elections. There is no effective opposition in the political sphere. The center dithers; some on the right speak out but do nothing effective.
A Dutch person involved in inter-communal work adds: “I know many upstanding young Muslims who are as appalled by anti-Semitism,” and these voices should not be forgotten. It should also be remembered that there have been attacks on mosques over the years. In contrast, though, a moderate left politician described in great detail how her family was forced to leave their neighborhood by verbal and at times violent harassment by Muslim youths there.
The issue, then, is not just coming from Middle Eastern politics but also the tensions within Dutch society and how Muslim immigrants and their children interpret their problems. Endlessly told that the Jews are their enemy and that they control society in some way, it is easy to conclude that the Jews might also be behind the harassment or discrimination Muslims face, absurd as this is on a factual level and in countries where the Jewish population is tiny.
Here is how one observer recounted on this issue: “As a journalist I roamed the streets around high schools in Amsterdam the day after 9/11 to catch the ‘sound of the streets.’ I was totally unprepared for all the anti-Semitic remarks uttered by [Muslim] boys of 11 to 16 years. Later I spoke with teachers who told me this was an ongoing thing.
“I also interviewed a Moroccan in a high position. He said two things that struck me: ‘Since the beginning of TV transmissions in Morocco the news start with news about Palestine. You in the Netherlands will never understand the degree with which Moroccans identify with Palestine.’
‘My Moroccan friends [in the Netherlands] among teachers and intellectuals agree Israel has a right to exist, but we can never say that in public because we would lose the backing of our Moroccan [community].’”
Elma Drayer is a liberal Dutch columnist and former editor of the prestigious newspaper Trouw , writing on its site. She’s also Jewish. In an article, “The Taboo Against Antisemitism has Disappeared,” she expresses shock that nobody else seems to be shocked by a recent television program, on the Netherlands 2 station, in which a group of young Muslims, whose roots are in Turkey, are interviewed by a researcher. (Incidentally, in Dutch discussions the Turks are considered the relative moderates compared to the supposedly more radical immigrants from Morocco.)
Only CIDI, the Jewish community’s lobbying group, noted the program, asking the minister of education in an open letter to undertake a national survey of anti- Semitic prejudice among high school students.
Drayer concludes (translation done for me): “For exactly 80 years after the greatest Jew hater of all time began, the taboo has disappeared.”
There’s a lot of evidence for this ranging from the chief rabbi’s conclusion that there was no future for Jews in the Netherlands to the wild ovations received from packed audiences for an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic film among Turkish immigrant audiences in the Netherlands.
Then, too, there’s the 2012, investigation by Lisa Nederveen in her MA thesis.
On the video, the well-intentioned interviewer tries to get the young people to tone down their criticism, a tactic which in itself shows the problem. He implies that it’s okay to kill just Jewish men. The young people disagree. He later says that many Jews disagree with Israel, implying that it is okay to kill Israelis and pro-Israel Jews. That’s still too moderate for them.
What particularly fascinates me is the young man’s quotation from Hitler. Where did he hear it? I don’t know precisely but I’ve read it repeatedly in Islamist propaganda. I’ll bet it came from there and not from neo-Nazi literature.
By knowing about Gypsies and disabled people, the boy shows clearly that he is by no means ignorant about the Nazi era, perhaps the result of instruction in school.
And, of course, completely apart from the Shoah, the Netherlands itself suffered greatly from Nazism. If genocide against the Jews was insufficient to make these young people dislike Hitler, you’d expect that some sense of Dutch patriotism might do so. Of course, that doesn’t happen.
Here’s the bottom line: Given the fact that this hatred is endemic among Dutch Muslims; and given the fact that their proportion and influence in the country is increasing; and given the fact that there are literally no countervailing forces, is this viewpoint going to increase or decrease? Obviously, the former.
Even in the Dutch mass media there are shocking things written on a regular basis about Jews and Israel. If one cannot depend on the Netherlands to defeat this trend, there’s nobody who’s going to do better.
Note: I want to thank the translators and Dutch friends who gave me helpful remarks and additional information on this article.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest book, Israel: An Introduction , has just been published by Yale University Press. His blog is Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.