(photo credit: Associated Press)
AMSTERDAM — A hidden-camera video showing Jews being harassed on the street in a Moroccan neighborhood of Amsterdam has led Dutch authorities to consider combating hate crimes with "decoy Jews" — undercover police officers wearing yarmulkes, a city spokesperson commented Friday.
The idea has gathered momentum after the hidden-camera video aired on
television last week. It was produced by the Joodse Omroep, a small
Jewish broadcaster that gets an allotted amount of airtime each month on
Dutch public TV stations.
New media need a new approach to anti-Semitism
For the video, two youths and a Rabbi wearing yarmulkes went walking in a
primarily Moroccan neighborhood in Amsterdam. The footage showed them
quickly being subjected to a range of ill-treatment, from dirty looks to
insults — and even, from one man, a Nazi salute.
The idea of using "decoy Jews" to detect and arrest bigots has been embraced by both a prominent Moroccan politician and by Amsterdam's acting mayor, who is Jewish.
The idea of using police disguised as Jews was first mooted by member of parliament Ahmed Marcouch in a speech earlier this month.
"We've done similar things with other kinds of crime," he said. "I'll act as a decoy Jew myself if necessary."
Decoy Jews are "not a solution to fighting anti-Semitism in general," said Ronny Naftaniel, the head of the Center for Information and Documentation Israel, a pro-Jewish group that has lobbied for the idea.
"But they could be used to fight a certain aspect: that Orthodox Jews are becoming unable to walk in public without being afraid of intimidation," he said.
The number of instances of reported anti-Semitism in Amsterdam rose in
2009 from the previous year, according to government data, from 17 to
41. Discrimination cases on the basis of skin color or country of origin
rose from 232 to 336 in the same period, while anti-gay cases rose to
89 from 55.
Amsterdam Mayor Lodewijk Asscher told a local television station this
week he was open to the idea of using decoy Jews and other "unorthodox
methods" to combat racism and homophobia.
However, his spokeswoman, Tessel Schouten, said Friday the city doesn't
yet have any specific plans to do so.