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Downplaying Muslim Anti-Semitism In The Netherlands

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On February 17, the Dutch Nederland 2 TV station broadcast an interview with Dutch Turkish youth conducted by volunteer youth worker Mehmet Sahin. In the broadcast the youngsters expressed their admiration for Hitler and his role in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust.

For more than a week there was hardly any reaction in the Dutch media. Nine days later one columnist, Elma Drayer, published an article in the daily Trouw in which she wrote how scandalous this silence was. She remarked that if Dutch youngsters had said on television that it would have been good if all Muslims, including babies, were slaughtered, there would have been stormy debates and demonstrations about how horrible these statements were.

Drayer concluded that Jew-hatred in the Netherlands has reached the level where it had been before the Holocaust.

The Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI), which also monitors anti-Semitic incidents in the Netherlands, asked the minister of education to take the initiative for a nationwide investigation on anti-Semitic bias among high school students. CIDI pointed to a 2012 study in Amsterdam high schools found that such prejudices were extensive. Most students did not approve of the persecution of Jews but did, however, think Jews were “rich” and “stingy.”

From this perception they rationalized the reasons for the persecution of the Jews.

CIDI also noted that anti-Semitic views among both non-Western and Dutch youths were far more widespread than had been assumed in the past.

This was a conclusion that could have been drawn much earlier. The extensive anti-Semitism among Muslim youth was already known many years ago.

It is not clear to what extent public praise of Hitler and the Holocaust are criminal offenses in the Netherlands. In the meantime, officials are investigating whether to prosecute the youngsters.

CIDI has decided not to put in a complaint with the police in order not to hinder the work of the youth worker. This is probably a mistake. The television program with the Turkish youths is only the tip of the iceberg.

Due to its flawed immigration policies (which it shares with many other European countries), the Netherlands has witnessed the indiscriminate arrival of one million Muslim immigrants. They often come from countries where anti-Semitism is rife and incitement against Israel and Jews is common in many segments of society, including among the elite.

There are three evident conclusions regarding anti-Semitism among Muslims in the Netherlands.

The first is that anti-Semitism among Muslim immigrants and their progeny is much more widespread than it is among the native-born Dutch population.

The second is that violent anti-Semitic incidents perpetrated by Muslims are often more severe than those perpetrated by native Dutch.

Third, Muslim leaders and organizations usually remain silent about such incidents. This silence gives the impression of at least passive agreement.

There are exceptions to this in the Muslim community, but they are relatively few and far between.

The issue took on a new dimension when the Simon Wiesenthal Center sent a letter to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, copies of which were sent to members of Parliament. The SWC called on the Dutch prime minister to undertake a comprehensive study of anti-Semitism in Dutch society in order to initiate effective measures to combat these prejudices.

The Netherlands’ largest paper, the Telegraaf, made this a front page story on March 9. Some other national papers also mentioned the letter.

In the interim, Sahin and his family had gone into hiding due to death threats he’d received via e-mail and social media. He has also been called names on the streets of his neighborhood. The chairman of a mosque whitewashed the youths, claiming on a Turkish news site that they had become victims of provocation.

Many fallacies are propagated in an effort to downplay or ignore Muslim anti-Semitism. One such fallacy is the notion that the Turkish youths interviewed on the TV program are “street youth.” When writing and speaking about Muslim anti-Semitism, the media try to create the impression that it is mainly a phenomenon found among troubled and lower class young people.

This is just not true. Holocaust denial and rabid anti-Semitism can also be found among Dutch Muslims across the economic and cultural spectrum – including among university students.

About the Author: Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is a board member and former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (2000-2012). He is a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award (2012) of the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism.


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