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Arab Jew-hatred in The Netherlands

Jerusalem Post Opinion
By JOSHUA LIVESTRO
5/6/04

Something's rotten in the land of Anne Frank

In Holland, this week marks Remembrance Day. This year's proceedings pocket option take place against the disturbing backdrop of a new wave of anti-Semitic violence that is sweeping not just The Netherlands but the whole of Western Europe.

In France and Germany, this new violent anti-Semitism has been around for almost a decade now. In Holland, however, violent incidents used to be just that: incidents, rare disturbances in an otherwise tranquil society. But lately, something is rotten in the land of Anne Frank.

In Amsterdam, a Turkish man, apparently mistaken for a Jew, was verbally abused and beaten up by two Arab immigrant youths. A Jewish retirement home was firebombed. Observant Jews no longer feel safe wearing yarmulkes in public. Anti-Semitic slogans appear on Jewish graves and synagogue buildings.

Even the Remembrance Day services themselves are no longer safe. In Amsterdam, Arab immigrant (mainly Moroccan) youths disrupted last year's proceedings by shouting slogans like "Hamas, Hamas, pump the Jews full of gas"; by burning a flag that had been lowered to half-mast; and by playing football with some of the commemorative wreaths. In a separate incident, guests at another memorial service - including a Holocaust survivor - were physically harassed by a gang of Arab immigrant teenagers.

Dutch politicians and social policy experts are gradually coming round to the view that this problem needs to be taken seriously. So far, however, their efforts at tackling it have been disappointing, to say the least. Perhaps their intransigence has something to do with the fact that it isn't their old b te noir, the extreme Right, that is behind this latest outburst of anti-Semitic violence. For as the Amsterdam-based Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI) has pointed out, the new anti-Semitism is overwhelmingly an Arab immigrant phenomenon. And even in post-Pim Fortuyn Dutch society, where anti-Islamism is now a mainstream political sentiment, accusing Arabs of anti-Jewish racist crimes is still a major taboo.

INSTEAD OF naming, shaming, and punishing the perpetrators of these crimes, the Dutch political class prefers to "gain a deeper understanding of the motives of the criminals." The Amsterdam Social Services Commissioner Ahmed Aboutaleb thinks he has found this root cause of Arab anger: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Basing his argument on the old maxim that if a Jew gets harassed it must be because he's done something wrong, Aboutaleb claims that Arab immigrant youths "sometimes develop anti-Semitic feelings because they (or their parents) strongly sympathize with the Palestinian cause." He also urges people to make the distinction pocket option india between "normal street talk" and real anti-Semitism which, according to him, is a much rarer phenomenon.

No wonder, then, that the Dutch police don't know what to do with the case of the Turkish immigrant rapper zg r Korkmaz and his group NAG (Nieuwe Allochtone Generatie - New Immigrant Generation). In his song "F***ing Jews," Korkmaz warns the "f***ing Jews" that immigrants are "comin' to kill" them. After CIDI's director Ronnie Naftaniel filed a complaint against him, Korkmaz reported to his local police station. But the police, who probably couldn't decide whether these lyrics were an expression of genuine anti-Semitic feelings or just normal street talk, sent him away without even charging him. "I don't understand," Korkmaz said. "I was here to make a statement because I feel CIDI is right. My lyrics were completely over the top." Instead of singing "kill all Jews," he would have preferred to have sung "kill the Jews that are in Israel's government and are responsible for the slaughter of Palestinian babies."

Korkmaz's song is a hit among Arab immigrant schoolchildren. He is obviously an idiot, but he was on to something when, in the course of complaining about being "unfairly singled out" by CIDI, he observed that "Holland is full of Jew-haters, and the Internet is full of songs like mine."

Through the Internet and satellite television, Arab youths are in fact exposed to a daily diet of virulently anti-Semitic propaganda in which Muslims are called on to kill Jews and destroy Israel.

This wave of anti-Semitism isn't any more rational than its many predecessors. What the people who commit these new anti-Semitic crimes deserve is not therapy but a prison sentence. To the many others who don't commit acts of violence against Jews themselves but sympathize with those that do, it should be explained that, in the words of the final declaration of the recent Berlin conference on anti-Semitism, "nothing can ever justify anti-Semitic statements, let alone anti-Semitic violence."

As Holland remembers its dead, the Dutch would do well to explain to their Arab compatriots that the annual Dodenherdenking, a pocket options demo tribute to those who died during the Second World War, is first and foremost a Jodenherdenking - a tribute to the many Jewish victims of the Nazi regime. And that the motto of Remembrance Day forever will be Nooit Meer - Never Again.

The writer is a columnist for the Dutch publications Vrij Nederland and De Gelderlander and for the Dutch edition of Reader's Digest.

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