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February 8, 2023 10:35 am

Nearly Half of Dutch Teachers Witnessed Classroom Antisemitism: New Survey

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avatar by Ben Cohen

A monument to Dutch Jewish victims of the Holocaust at the site of the former Nazi camp Westerbork in the Netherlands. Photo: Wikimedia/public domain.

Antisemitism remains a “persistent problem” in Dutch high schools, with more than 40 percent of teachers in the Netherlands having witnessed an antisemitic incident during the last year, according to a new report from the Amsterdam-based Anne Frank House.

The report is based on a survey of 432 teachers examining the nature and extent of antisemitic incidents in schools. The research demonstrated that soccer rivalries and the conflict in the Middle East are the main triggers for antisemitic agitation, with an over-representation of Dutch Muslims among the offenders.

A total of 42 percent of the teachers surveyed said they had been confronted with antisemitic rhetoric and the trivialization of the Holocaust in their classrooms.

The survey’s publication comes just two weeks after a bombshell study by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany which revealed that 23 percent of Dutch millennials believe that the Nazi extermination of six million Jews during World War II was a myth.

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The report elicited a firestorm in Dutch society, with lawmakers from across the political spectrum expressing shock and dismay.

“This country is broken,” said Harm Beertema, a Dutch politician with the Party for Freedom, in response to the December report.

The majority of the incidents in the Anne Frank House report involved soccer, with top Amsterdam side Ajax demeaned as “Jews”, based on its historic and largely inaccurate perception as a club rooted in the Jewish community. One third of the incidents invoked the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel. However, the researchers argued that it was “striking and positive” that the antisemitic conspiracy theories that erupted during the COVID-19 pandemic had made a minimal impact on Dutch classrooms.

The survey noted that 20 percent of offenders were of Moroccan origin — double the number recorded by a similar survey ten years ago — with Dutch citizens from a Turkish background also overrepresented. Offenders are mainly young males, the report stated.

“The results of the study show that combating antisemitism in secondary education is still very much needed,” Ronald Leopold, the executive director of the Anne Frank House, said in a statement accompanying the report.

“Successful approaches should be continued and expanded, such as education about the Holocaust and education about prejudices that underlie antisemitism and other forms of discrimination,” Leopold added.

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