Denmark’s Policies Have Led Directly to Antisemitism
In Denmark, it has been decided that an information center is needed to educate and inform the general population about the Jewish minority living there. The purpose of this center, which will be run by the Danish Jewish community and funded by the Copenhagen municipality, is to combat antisemitism. This is rather ironic, considering that Jews have lived in Denmark for over 350 years and that Denmark became world famous for saving most of the Danish Jews during World War II. It seems a little late in the day for education and information. Then again, the majority of the “new” antisemitism against Jews in Denmark — although far from all of it — comes from a new demographic, Muslims, who have only lived in Denmark for the past four decades.
Several days ago, Copenhagen Mayor of Employment and Integration Anna Mee Allerslev told Danish television that “Danish Jews, Jews in Copenhagen, have experienced discrimination. This is of course not the general impression in Copenhagen, but we have too many instances of antisemitism or Jew-hatred and we want to help break down prejudices and spread information and in that way eliminate discrimination and hate crimes.”
The center will be educating teachers who, in turn, will visit schools, educational institutions and youth clubs in order to spread information about the Jewish minority in Denmark.
Allerslev happens to be the same person who in 2012 told Danish Jews participating in a festival celebrating the multiculturalism of ethnic and cultural minorities in Copenhagen that they would not be allowed to display the Israeli flag at the festival. No such message was given to any other minority participating in the festival. “The Israeli flag can seem provocative to some and for security reasons we do not wish the Israeli flag to be displayed,” Allerslev said. Only four years later, the mayor has seemingly realized that discriminating against Jews is a bad thing.
It is hard to imagine that the educational efforts of the center will be able to make a dent in the hard-core antisemitism and anti-Israeli diatribes that are taught and preached in certain mosques and Muslim private schools in Denmark. The terrorist who murdered a young Jewish security guard last year at a Copenhagen synagogue had been exposed to such incitement at a local mosque the day before he committed the murder. How is a handful of teachers educating about Jews going to change such powerful brainwashing?
In the Netherlands, authorities are facing similar challenges. A recent government-sponsored report found that antisemitism is rampant in many Dutch schools, especially among Muslim students. The 55-page report, ”Two Worlds, Two Realities — How Do You Deal with It as a Teacher,” was published last week by journalist Margalith Kleijwegt at the Dutch Education Ministry’s request.
In the report, one Amsterdam high school teacher told Kleijwegt about an incident in which a female student of Moroccan descent stood up and pronounced: “If I had a Kalashnikov [assault rifle], I’d gun down all the Jews.”
”I wasn’t getting there,” the teacher is quoted in the report as saying. “I asked her to imagine a 5-year-old Jewish girl who lives here. What would she have to do with Israel’s policies? Unfortunately, there was no place for empathy. The pupil didn’t care about that girl. She had only one message: The Jews should die.”
The report goes on to state that “antisemitic behavior is a recurrent problem in some schools. Some see it as a provocation [by pupils], others fear it goes deeper: that pupils absorb anti-Jewish attitudes at home.”
”Fear that it goes deeper”? The very fact that teachers do not understand where this antsSemitism is coming from speaks volumes about the insurmountable challenges ahead of Dutch society, as these pupils grow up to be adults. Most Dutch Jews will probably have left by then, but any society in which students find it completely normal to stand up in class and talk about killing Jews with assault rifles is in for a nasty future “surprise” — although given Europe’s recent experiences with terrorism, the surprise element is not assured.
In his response, Dutch Education Minister Jet Bussemaker wrote that the report “shows a reality that is inconvenient and sometimes painful” but one that must be challenged and dealt with “in accordance with democratic values.”
However, Dutch society really only has itself to thank for such developments in its schools. As Manfred Gerstenfeld previously reported, a number of schoolbooks published in the Netherlands in 2015 contained distortions of Israel’s history, creating a bias against Israel among pupils. When a motion to counter antisemitism within the educational system was brought in Parliament, the Dutch Labor party, the junior partner in the government, opposed it.
You cannot sow antisemitism with your policies and then feign surprise when you end up reaping antisemitism. Everything is connected. Both Denmark and the Netherlands are dominated by anti-Israeli media and a public discourse that treats Israel as the culprit of all the ills of the Middle East. Both countries support the labeling of Israeli goods produced over the Green Line, both countries have major educational institutions that routinely feature conferences where Israel is decried as an “apartheid state” and the general atmosphere is one of hostility toward Israel.
An educational center and the weak promises of politicians to challenge painful realities serve as nothing but excuses, buying time for governments that have no clue how to deal with the antisemitism that they have reared in their own backyards.
Judith Bergman is a writer and political analyst living in Israel.This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.