Dutch Parliament Asked to Approve Comprehensive Plan to Combat Antisemitism
The parliament in the Netherlands has been asked to approve a comprehensive plan to combat antisemitism drawn up by the country’s government-appointed coordinator to combat the rise in Jew-hatred.
The 17-page plan was submitted to the legislature on Thursday by Dilan Yeşilgoz-Zegerius, the Dutch Minister of Justice, on behalf of Eddo Verdoner — a former Jewish communal official who was appointed as National Coordinator for Combating Anti-Semitism in April 2021.
In an extensive round of media interviews on Thursday, Verdoner warned that antisemitism among the Dutch public was reaching crisis levels similar to France and Germany, where the number of antisemitic attacks has increased annually during the past decade. He cited research conducted by his office which revealed that 71 percent of Dutch Jews will hide their identity, for example by removing their kippot, if they feel their personal security is being threatened. According to CIDI, the leading Dutch Jewish advocacy organization, 2021 was a record year in terms of antisemitic incidents, with a total of 183 reported. The Dutch Jewish community is estimated at 30-50,000 strong.
“Antisemitism is fertile ground for right-wing, left-wing and religious extremism, and is unfortunately an everyday part of our society,” Verdoner said. “The result is that Jews hide their identity, or apologize for it.”
Verdoner’s plan is based on three elements: monitoring and following up on antisemitic incidents, education and prevention, and commemoration and celebration of the Netherlands’ Jewish past.
Verdoner noted that 12 percent of teachers who give classes on the Holocaust had reported hostile reactions from their students. “The Holocaust took the lives of more than 102,000 Dutch Jews. As a result, there are fewer Jews who can propagate their culture. Unknown unfortunately makes for unloved,” Verdoner remarked.
Holocaust denial and the promotion of antisemitic memes online — a phenomenon that exploded at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic — should be punished more severely, Verdoner argued. He cited research into more than two million social media postings about Judaism in 2020, eleven percent of which were antisemitic in content and tone. In that regard, social media companies would be urged to feature accurate information about the Holocaust and other Jewish issues in search returns, and would face stiffer financial penalties for violations.
“You have to counterbalance these ideas, which marginalize Jews, disrupt society and open the door to other forms of hatred, such as against Muslims and LGBTQ people,” Verdoner told the newspaper Trouw. “We’ve let it go too far, we need to take a stand against it. In the political arena, at school, on the internet. Everywhere.”