January 15, 2004
Anti-Semitism Acts Climb in Holland
Anti-Semitic acts in Holland rose significantly in 2002, but few cases were serious, according to a new report.
Written by the University of Leiden and the Anne Frank Foundation in Amsterdam, the report, presented in Amsterdam last week, also noted a marked decrease in violence directed against Muslims and Muslim targets. Likewise, violence from the extreme right dropped to 264 registered cases from 317.
Jews didn't fare so well, however. Anti-Semitic incidents rose to 60 in 2002, up from 41 in 2001. About half of the cases were related to soccer games. Dutch fans -- especially opponents of Amsterdam's Ajax club, which for various reasons is identified in the public mind with Jews -- often shout things like, "Hamas, Hamas, hang the Jews in the gas."
According to the researchers, immigrant youths in Holland were less involved in anti-Semitic attacks than in the past. In 2001, immigrant youths were responsible for about 20 percent of the anti-Semitic incidents, but the figure dropped to just 5 percent in 2002, with most of the attacks carried out by non-Muslim Dutch, particularly at anti-Israel protests.
The Jewish community didn't react to the report. The community generally believes the report's methodology is flawed. For example, it doesn't include incidents at school, where many Dutch Jews think anti-Semitism is becoming a problem.
The Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI), the Dutch equivalent of the Anti-Defamation League, renewed a request to the government to follow anti-Semitism more closely. The last time CIDI asked a few months ago, its request was rebuffed. The government has not yet responded to the most recent request.
Most of the incidents included in the report aren't too serious, the researchers said. Apart from the shouts at soccer games, Jewish organizations receive threatening letters on an occasional basis.
Also, pro-Palestinian demonstrators at political rallies often express anti-Jewish statements, and anti-Semitism can be found on some Dutch Web sites. However, there were nine cases of physical harassment, such as beatings on the street of people who were obviously Jewish.
Since the beginning of the Palestinian intifada in September 2000, many Jews have opted not to show visible signs of their Jewishness. Many remove their yarmulkes in public, for example.
Experts say there probably are more anti-Semitic incidents than are registered with police, because most incidents remain unreported. Also, it's not clear whether the decrease in anti-Semitic incidents by immigrant youths is real or not.
The Anne Frank Foundation, which co-authored the report, has no means of investigating material that is not written in Dutch. Moroccan newspapers and Arabic textbooks used in Islamic day schools or after-school religious classes are not monitored in Holland, and the foundation also doesn't monitor mosque religious leaders.
During the past year, school curricula and religious leaders made headlines in Holland for their overtly anti-Semitic statements.