Dutch press tries to hide anti-Semitic incident
The anti-Semitic youths affair initially got more international attention on global websites than in the Netherlands’ media.
MARK RUTTE Photo: REUTERS
‘Iam 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.
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
On February 28, the interview finally received mention in a
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
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
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
The chairman of a Turkish mosque in Arnhem whitewashed the
youths on a Turkish news site, claiming that they had become victims of
The anti-Semitic youths affair initially got far more
international attention on global websites than in the Netherlands’
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.
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
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.
also be investigated in detail in the native Dutch community.
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