The Dutch and Their Jews: The Never-Ending Shame of the Netherlands
Last month, a video showing a man waving a Palestinian flag and smashing the windows of a kosher Amsterdam restaurant went viral. Thereafter, two policemen — who stood by during the vandalism — overpowered the attacker.
Two days later, the attacker was freed by the police with a warning that if he committed additional crimes, he would be rearrested. Later, it became known that the perpetrator is a Palestinian-Syrian asylum-seeker who’s lived in the Netherlands for several years. He reportedly promised not to repeat his hate/terror crime in Amsterdam. The prosecution also withheld several salient facts from the public — for example, that the man was an ex-combatant in Syria’s civil war.
When the restaurant owner’s lawyer released this additional information, the prosecutor’s office said that it would seek disciplinary action against the lawyer. While the Palestinian Syrian was being investigated, the kosher restaurant was vandalized for a second time. Also, on New Year’s day, a rock destroyed the windows of the Chabad House in Central Amsterdam.
When the perpetrator of that attack came before the court, it was decided to request a psychological examination, which will take several months. In the meantime, the attacker will remain free. Michael Jacobs, a Jew, wasn’t so lucky. He was arrested for holding an Israeli flag on Amsterdam’s main square last summer because he stood too close to a pro-Palestinian demonstrator. Jacobs remained in jail for a full week. Yet there is nothing in the Dutch legal system which forbids his action.
Apparently, the Dutch judicial system doesn’t have its act together. In the previous government, two successive ministers of justice had to resign.
And as far as Jews and Israel are concerned, the rot runs deeper.
There are unique aspects of Dutch antisemitism. First, the Netherlands is the only European Union country with Muslim parties in parliament and some municipal councils. Their representatives make extreme remarks about Jews and Israel. One Hague councilman, Abdoe Khoulani, called visiting Israeli schoolchildren “Zionist terrorists in training” and “future child murderers and occupiers.” The public prosecutor decided that this was legal.
In Rotterdam last year, an international congress of Hamas front-groups was allowed to hold its meeting after neither the Muslim (Labour Party) mayor, nor the Dutch security services, acted to block the gathering — despite information publicly available from German security services about the organizers’ links to Hamas.
The second specific Dutch antisemitism characteristic has bizarre origins. The extreme fans of Ajax, the leading Amsterdam Soccer Club — all gentiles — call themselves “Jews.” For more than 20 years, they have been welcomed in several other Dutch stadiums with songs like, “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.”
Such slogans have spread into the public arena. At the beginning of this century, two Socialist Party parliamentarians participated in an anti-Israel demonstration in Amsterdam; one was caught on a video shouting, “Intifada, intifada.”
During the 2014 Gaza War, some anti-Israel demonstrations had a pro-Hamas character. At one protest, when a Green Left Party Euro parliamentarian started to make negative remarks about Hamas — after she had criticized Israel — she was shouted down. Such attitudes confirm that for some, tolerance includes tolerating evil.
Meanwhile, Kajsa Ollongren, the current minister of the interior, on behalf of the anti-Israeli center party, D66, declared on TV that the horrible attack on the kosher restaurant was related to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. As if an Amsterdam Jewish restaurant owner has anything to do with Trump’s decision.
In Parliament, the most extreme anti-Israel speakers are often former foreign office officials. For instance, in an answer to parliamentary questions, the previous foreign minister from the Labour Party played down payments by the Palestinian Authority to murderers of Israeli Jews.
The Dutch government has for many years subsidized Dutch organizations that finance Palestinian hate mongers. The previous foreign minister supported the labeling of Israeli goods. And without a second thought — just like other Western European countries — the Netherlands opened its doors wide to immigrants from Muslim countries where antisemitism is rife.
When a small Christian party managed to get a parliamentary motion passed that Israel should not be discriminated against in the UN, the Netherlands nevertheless voted in favor of the anti-US motion on Jerusalem.
The Netherlands is also the only country in Western Europe that has never admitted the major shortcomings of its World War II government, even though new studies clearly show the collaboration of the Dutch police with the German occupiers in hunting Jews; the cooperation of notaries in the theft of Jewish assets; and the total negligence of the Dutch Red Cross headquarters toward the Jews.
Not even the legacy of Anne Frank is safe. The writer of a new play on Anne Frank’s diary, Ilja Pfeiffer, transformed one of the people in hiding who was murdered in the Holocaust, Fritz Pfeffer, from a victim to a perpetrator of violence. Several Dutch media outlets reviewed the play rather positively. The Anne Frank Foundation in Basel is suing the author, but a play in which a Holocaust victim’s memory is sullied is just one more example of a society that will not treat its Jews fairly — not even in death.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate dean and director of global social action for the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is a former chairman of the Jerusalem Center For Public Affairs.