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December 14, 2020 1:38 pm

Dutch Government Announces Creation of Antisemitism Tsar to Combat Rising Jew-Hatred

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Dutch protesters in The Hague rallying against antisemitism. Photo: CIDI.

The Dutch government has announced the creation of a new post for a national coordinator to combat antisemitism in the Netherlands.

Ferd Grapperhaus — the Dutch justice minister — said on Sunday that the new post was part of an overall strengthening of the government’s official approach toward dealing with threats, discrimination and intimidation.

“This is not a battle we should leave to the Jewish community alone,” Grapperhaus declared during a speech to the Dutch Maccabi network.

Grapperhaus observed that social media had made antisemitism more visible and increased its reach.

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The coronavirus crisis and its economic impact had also provided a feeding ground for conspiracy theories about the Jewish community, he added.

Dutch and European Jewish leaders welcomed the announcement of the new post, whose inaugural incumbent will be named in early 2021.

“Just this weekend my synagogue and the Liberal synagogue in Utrecht were daubed with swastika symbols,” Ellen Van Praagh — chair of the Inter Provincial Chief Rabbinate for the Netherlands (IPOR) — said in a statement. “It appears that the attacker had mental health issues, but it is abundantly clear to us that the pandemic has brought out the  worst in people.”

Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs — chief rabbi of the Netherlands — asserted that it was “indicative of the predicament facing Dutch Jews that the government has decided to appoint a national coordinator to tackle antisemitism.”

Continued Jacobs: “Whilst we welcome such an appointment, it is with a heavy heart that this position is even necessary in a country such as the Netherlands, whose very name is associated with tolerance and plurality. Nevertheless, as attacks increase, the national coordinator will find their inbox heaving with suggestions from Jews in Holland who want nothing more than to live in peace and practice their faith unhindered.”

Antisemitism has been growing in the Netherlands in recent years. A report in Feb. 2020 from CIDI — a Dutch Jewish NGO — disclosed that 182 antisemitic incidents were reported in 2019, marking a 35-percent increase from 2018.

Incidents of verbal abuse and violent physical assaults against Jews more than doubled, from 27 cases in 2018 to 61 in 2019.

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