Anyone who claims to fight anti-Semitism must first renounce it themselves


In the Netherlands, the Hamas attack of October 7, 2023 has been frequently labeled as ‘anti-Semitic’. In other words, Hamas’s action was not directed against the Israeli occupier, but against Jews. Had the occupier been Christian, the suggestion is, the attack would not have taken place.

Harsh warning

This framing is not only nonsensical, it has the downside that Jews are held responsible for the Israeli crimes that Hamas opposes. This identification – traditionally aggressively promoted by Israel and its international lobby – will one day turn against the Jewish community, including those outside Israel, the Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt warned in the 1940s. And many after her.

Translated into the here and now, her warning leads to a simple but compelling lesson: Jews, especially those outside Israel, should not be held responsible or responsible for Israeli crimes against the Palestinians. This is demanded of pro-Palestinian activists, but above all it means that politicians, media and certainly the organizations that claim to stand up for Jews are not guilty of it themselves.

However, the opposite is the case. The Jewish community is constantly being dragged along, even though there is no need for this. Below we describe four recent examples of this practice.

From the river to the sea

An infamous example is the Palestinian slogan From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free, which is branded from pro-Israel quarters as ‘anti-Semitic’ and ‘threatening to Jewish Dutch people’. The ‘logic’ behind that accusation is chilling: if Palestinians finally had their rights recognized after three quarters of a century, Jewish Dutch people would no longer feel at home in Israel. The reasoning is that the abolition of Israeli apartheid demanded by the Palestinians puts an end to their ‘escape route’ if they want to leave the Netherlands because of anti-Semitism.

In this way, the rights of millions of Palestinians are placed in direct opposition to the alleged interests of the Jewish-Dutch community. This does not combat anti-Semitism, but provokes it. And with complete conviction: the slogan led to hysterical attention and the persistent call for a ban. The House of Representatives even sees it as a call to violence. The ruling of the Amsterdam court that the slogan is not threatening and falls under freedom of expression was overturned in parliament.

Herzog & Jeroen

A second example occurred around the arrival of Israeli President Yitzhak Herzog at the opening of the Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam on March 10. Due to his incitement to genocide in Gaza, there was fierce opposition to his presence, especially from the Jewish and Palestinian communities. This culminated in three demonstrations during the opening – two from Jewish organizations, the third from Amnesty International.

This led to new hysteria, where no stone was left unturned to frame the demonstrations as ‘anti-Semitic’. This is how the lie was put into circulation that ‘horrible anti-Semitic slogans’ had been shouted – the quote is from Jeroen Pauw, on Wednesday, March 27 in Sophie & Jeroen. The fact that Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema and the police had the opposite opinion two weeks earlier not seen as an obstacle by Pauw and his editors.

The House of Representatives demonstrated the fanaticism with which criticism of the Israeli president was framed as ‘anti-Semitic’ during Question Time on March 12. The debate with State Secretary Eric van der Burg (VVD) resulted in a competition to see who had heard the rudest ‘anti-Semitic rubbish’. That produced numerous examples – such as Jews raus! and ‘cancer Jews’ – who have in common that they have never been called.

Lenny Kuhr

And then on March 24, four activists disrupted a performance by singer Lenny Kuhr. As a reason for this, in our opinion, inappropriate action, they cited her pro-Israeli propaganda and support for the Gaza war, and her grandchildren serving in the Israeli occupation army. Kuhr’s Jewish faith was not mentioned by anyone.

Nevertheless, the action led to serious accusations of anti-Semitism. Former MP Gert-Jan Segers (Christian Union) it even a ‘Jew hunt’. Another low point was the ‘Declaration against Jew-hatred’ that was signed on March 26 by 13 of the 15 political parties in The Hague. In it, the action against Kuhr is placed entirely in an anti-Jewish perspective, again substantiated with fictional ‘anti-Semitic slogans’. From the statement:

Last weekend, a Jewish artist was attacked and verbally abused with anti-Semitic slogans. […] The safety and freedom of Jewish Dutch people are at stake. […] Let no one be silent anymore, stop anti-Semitism now, in any form.

In Israeli service

In the meantime, the next example presented itself. The reason is a Dutch woman with a daughter in the Israeli army. The woman is rudely addressed as ‘mother of a child murderer’: by activists at the door, in flyers and at her work. The woman’s private details have been published online.

The action appears to be a follow-up to the 30-3 Movement’s complaint against 17 (mainly) Dutch nationals who serve in the Israeli army and/or live in an illegal Israeli settlement in occupied Palestinian territory. They are charged with involvement in ‘genocide and other serious crimes’. The NOS writes that several Dutch family members of those soldiers are facing ‘threats’.

We strongly condemn that approach. But once again there is no doubt about the motivation of the activists, who are in no way against Jews. There is therefore no reason to make Jews part of the fuss. Yet it happened again, with the instigator being Eddo Verdoner, the National Coordinator for Combating Anti-Semitism (NCAB). He Thursday afternoon a piece of art that emphatically places Jews at the focal point of the issue:

Many Jews in the Netherlands have family in Israel. If that alone is a license to visit someone at home, intimidate them and spread personal data in the neighborhood, Jews are targeted because of who they are. This intimidation of Jewish Dutch people goes beyond all limits.

With the hair dragged

The four examples illustrate how solidarity with the Palestinians, and criticism of Israel, is combated by presenting them at all costs as an attack on Jewish Dutch people. Jews are being dragged into this, and it is mainly non-Jews who are guilty of this.

What those Jews actually think does not matter. They must comply. When they decided to demonstrate against Herzog, the House of Representatives called them scum and on the basis of lies – Jews raus! – declared an anti-Semite. Facts on which they should be able to rely in a constitutional state, such as a police investigation or judicial decision, do not matter. Er will and must there is anti-Semitism.

Toxic anti-Semitism

In this way, the Jewish-Dutch community is abused to combat undesirable views about Israel. The fact that Jewish Dutch people – as a group, because of ‘who they are’, and with all the associated risks – are placed in the firing line of a heated political struggle is considered collateral damage, collateral damage. Had bad luck.

This is the toxic anti-Semitism that accompanies – or even enforces – support for Israel in society. It is high time for a ‘Declaration against Jew-hatred’ that radically puts an end to this practice. If this is not done, concerns about the ‘safety’ of the Jewish Netherlands will not only be a dead letter, but a harbinger of further disaster.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: claims fight antiSemitism renounce


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