As Antisemitism Rises in the Netherlands, Dutch Jews Fear Skepticism, Lack of Support From Police, MPs Are Told
The reluctance of Jews in the Netherlands to report antisemitic attacks to the authorities out of skepticism that they will not be taken seriously is as much of a problem as the rise in antisemitism itself, a Dutch MP told his colleagues during a parliamentary debate on the subject this week.
During a question-and-answer session with Ferd Grapperhaus, the Dutch minister of justice, on Tuesday, Socialist Party representative Jasper van Dijk commented that it was “at least as bad that many Jews don’t report antisemitism, because they feel that the police don’t do anything anyway.”
Grapperhaus was addressing MPs’ concerns following Monday’s publication of a report that showed that the highest number of antisemitic incidents ever recorded in the Netherlands took place in 2019.
The report — which is compiled annually by CIDI, the leading Dutch Jewish research and advocacy organization — revealed that 182 antisemitic incidents were reported in 2019, marking a 35-percent increase from 2018.
Worryingly, incidents of verbal abuse and violent physical assaults against Jews more than doubled, from 27 cases in 2018 to 61 last year. Many of these offenses were committed by Dutch supporters of the campaign to isolate the State of Israel through BDS-related actions.
In his remarks to the MPs on Tuesday, the justice minister noted that many Jews in the Netherlands experienced “too many bumps” in the reporting process, which meant that antisemitic incidents remained underreported even as they rose to record levels.
Asked by Kathalijne Buitenweg of the Green Left Party what measures the government planned in response to the latest CIDI report, Grapperhaus said that the cabinet had recently pledged 3.5 million Euros to an effort led by parliamentarians to combat the problem.
“I regularly speak out in public and in the media against antisemitism, and call on you to do the same,” Grapperhaus told MPs. “Antisemitism is a curse on our society.”
The minister also voiced agreement with Buitenweg’s point that antisemitic offenders should be handed heavier punishments because their actions were aimed not at individuals, but an entire community.
In its own statement accompanying the publication of its report, CIDI emphasized that under-reporting of antisemitic offenses remained a critical problem in the Netherlands.
“CIDI is very concerned about the explosive increase in antisemitic incidents, and fears that the incidents reported to us are just the tip of the iceberg,” the statement said. “What makes the increase all the more distressing is that victims of antisemitism seldom report to the police, because they fear that a report will lead to nothing.”
The statement continued: “When victims do report to the police, they often encounter lack of understanding and it can sometimes take years before they hear what has been done with their report.”
CIDI concluded with a call on law enforcement officials and the judiciary “to invest in creating trust among victims of antisemitism.”
Said the group: “This is the only way to encourage people to report it and to fight the problem.”