Dutch press tries to hide anti-Semitic incident
‘I am satisfied with what Hitler did with the Jews” and “Hitler should have killed all Jews.” These, plus killing all Jewish babies, were the essence of remarks made by four Dutch-Turkish youths from the town of Arnhem during a Dutch television interview on February 17. Their interviewer was a young Turkish neighborhood volunteer, Mehmet Sahin.
The program was broadcast on a mainstream network, yet only a few Internet blogs commented on it. Freedom of speech is a highly protected right in the Netherlands.
Hardly any attention is given to another “right” of the media, namely the freedom to conceal the news.
In a press release on February 25, Dutch- Israel defense organization CIDI called upon Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science Jet Bussemaker to undertake a national investigation into anti-Semitic prejudice among school children. This press release also received no attention in the national media. It took until March 13 before the first minister, Lodewijk Asscher of Social Affairs, condemned these anti-Semitic youths.
On February 28, the interview finally received mention in a national daily.
Columnist Elma Drayer wrote in Trouw that if native Dutch youngsters would have said on national TV that Muslims, including babies, should be slaughtered, it would have led to an uproar and demonstrations in which prominent Dutch leftists would have also joined. Drayer’s column hardly got any attention elsewhere.
The anti-Semitic youths issue attained a new dimension however, when the Simon Wiesenthal Center wrote a personal letter to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, which was also 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 in its Saturday, March 8 edition. Some other national papers also mentioned the letter.
The SWC, from overseas, managed to create far more awareness in the Dutch press about this affair than CIDI, which for decades has networked with major Dutch media. The Dutch Jewish community has been under increasing pressure in the past few years, partly due to attacks on ritual slaughter and to a lesser extent, on circumcision.
Developments in the anti-Semitic youths affair seem to indicate that international Jewish organizations can have far more influence than Dutch Jewry and its supporters.
In its letter to Prime Minister Rutte, the SWC highlighted a central element of this issue. The interviewees claimed their feelings were shared by Dutch natives. They claimed that “Nobody in our school likes Jews.”
In the interim it became known that Sahin and his family had gone into hiding due to death threats he received via email and social media. He also experienced name-calling on the streets of his neighborhood.
The chairman of a Turkish mosque in Arnhem whitewashed the youths on a Turkish news site, claiming that they had become victims of provocation.
The anti-Semitic youths affair initially got far more international attention on global websites than in the Netherlands’ media.
Volunteers sub-titled the Dutch video in English and French and posted it on the Internet. Also mentioned were a variety of other negative developments in the Netherlands.
One of them is the Dutch government’s decision in favor of compulsory labeling for produce manufactured in settlements in the West Bank.
There are many other such developments.
MDI, an organization which tracks discrimination on Dutch Internet sites, found that in 2012 anti-Semitism/Holocaust denial is again by far the chief category of Internet hate at 28 percent. It is followed by expressions of hatred of Muslims at 19 percent.
This is against a background where the Muslim population in the Netherlands is around 1 million – at least 20 times the number of Jews. MDI concludes that contemporary anti-Semitism has been mainstreamed in the Netherlands. MDI also reported that the Dutch government has eliminated their funding out of budget considerations.
Labor Party leader Diederik Samsom attacked Israel at his party’s first congress on the Middle East. He said that Israel transgresses international law. Samsom, who was instrumental in creating the present Liberal-Labor government, did not mention that the Netherlands itself doesn’t obey international law. It is a signatory of the UN Convention on Genocide, which obligates it to bring Iran before an international court. Samsom’s double standards against Israel are anti-Semitic, according to the European working definition of anti-Semitism. His ignorance was also shown when in his broad overview of the Middle East, he forgot to mention Turkey, its largest country.
The Arnhem youths affair is just the tip of the Dutch anti-Semitic iceberg. Any investigator will quickly find that there is widespread anti-Semitism among Dutch Muslims.
It is far from limited to what white-washers are wont to say about street youth, because it can also be found among many adults and university students.
Anti-Semitism should also be investigated in detail in the native Dutch community.
This would include studying how major problems are hidden by the media, deficiencies in appropriate action taken on issues which have been known for many years already and the Dutch authorities’ politically hollow rhetoric. Methods to alleviate anti-Semitism would have to be developed even if there is no hope of it being eradicated completely. The more Dutch authorities shirk their responsibilities, the worse these problems will become.
The author 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.