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Anti-Semitic Abuse Soars In The Netherlands

by | Tue, Nov 14 2023

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Anti-Semitic hate crimes and hate speech in the Netherlands have soared by 800% since the Hamas attacks on Israel. Recent incidents included Nazi symbols being sprayed on windows and mezzuzahs being ripped off doors as well as physical and verbal abuse, and threats of extreme violence.

Many of them took place at schools and universities. In one school, a Jewish boy was threatened with a knife and hit on the head with a bottle while classmates called him a Dutch slur meaning “cancer Jew.” Another boy was told that his classmates would throw him off a bridge and drown him because he was Jewish. Recurring reports describe students being accosted for wearing Star of David necklaces, being shown the Hitler salute and being told that Hitler “didn’t finish his job.”

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reports the incidents are recorded by Dutch-Jewish watchdog, the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI). They do not include abusive or hateful posts published on social media unless they were specifically sent to an individual through a direct message.

CIDI researcher and policy advisor Hans Wallage believes the rash of school incidents has to do with social media which gives children unprecedentedly rapid and unchecked access to hate speech, conspiracy theories and incitement. “We don’t have a filter as adults sometimes, but children completely don’t have a filter of what to share — they share everything. What’s a lie? After a while, if you read it all the time and share videos all the time online, it’s going from the online world to the real-life world,” he explained.

The only Jewish weekly magazine in the Netherlands Nieuw Israelietisch Weekblad known in English as the Dutch Jewish Weekly has been forced to switch from its clear plastic packaging to anonymous white envelopes according to editor-in-chief Esther Voet. She said that her staff was flooded with calls from anxious subscribers who didn’t want their neighbors to know they were Jewish.

JTA reports that although it is typical for anti-Semitism to flare in the Netherlands during conflicts in Israel and the Palestinian territories, CIDI researchers said they have never seen such a surge of incidents like this before. Like other Jewish communities across Europe, many Dutch Jews feel they are in new territory. “People feel that it’s different now, and it will be forever different from now on,” according to a CIDI researcher.