It is summertime. Many are abroad and enjoying but I feel uncomfortable

The countless convictions of Israel by the UN also bother me.

August 5, 2019 21:55
3 minute read.
It is summertime. Many are abroad and enjoying but I feel uncomfortable

Summer Blossoms, Alonso Flores, El Salvador, 2017 Acrylic on canvas. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The Belgian Newspaper De Morgen (“The Morning”) recently published an obscene, purely antisemitic article. The fact that there is antisemitism is not new to me. But that this can be published more and more frequently and that antisemitism is getting more and more common makes me worried. If you think I exaggerate, judge for yourself. The article states: “The land of Israel is not a promised land, it is stolen land.” It adds, “Being a Jew is no religion: There is no God who would give His creatures such an ugly nose.”

The countless convictions of Israel by the UN also bother me. Israel is being convicted because Israel is the cause of Palestinian women being discriminated against. Yes, you read it well: Because apparently women take a subordinate place in the world of Palestinians, Israel is guilty of it. And my own country of the Netherlands agreed and applauded when this resolution was passed.

This reminds me of 1976. An Air France plane was hijacked by the PLO. The plane landed in Entebbe, Uganda, where a psychopath was president. I will spare you the whole history. In case you forgot, Google it and you will read all the details. Israel liberated all the passengers. The rescue operation was a miracle, almost incomprehensible. Many of you will remember the “Raid on Entebbe,” but what almost everyone forgot, is the reaction of the UN, the United Nations. It didn’t condemn the PLO for hijacking an airplane with innocent hostages, but Israel was condemned “for violation of foreign airspace.”

This time, also, the Netherlands was silent and accepted the umpteenth anti-Israel resolution. Moreover, even before this UN resolution saw daylight, the Israeli action was condemned on behalf of the Netherlands by Foreign Secretary Van der Stoel and socialist leader Ien van den Heuvel.

To make it even worse, I thought that the fairytale of the cruel Old Testament, “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth” wasn’t preached any more in the Christian churches. Alas, I was recently confronted with it again. It was not meant in an antisemitic way, but was stated publicly. And when I asked this person politely to talk about it, I heard nothing.

A student of mine, a survivor of 1940-1945, recently confided to me that he still suffers from that one, probably well-meaning remark. He was only six years old when he was separated from his parents and brought to strangers to go into hiding. This little boy of that time is still truly thankful to these people who saved his life without expecting anything back. But one remark is still haunting him. The mother of the family explained to him, after he was in their house for a few days, that this six-year-old boy is now being punished because his parents (ancestors) had killed Jesus. She added, however, “We bring love and mercy in the world, and therefore we will not deliver you to the Germans.”

That boy slowly became angry at his own parents. Why did they commit this murder? Now, he was the victim of it. The boy of then is now of old age. He is an intelligent man and has reached a high position in science. Still, he is deeply grateful to the people who kept him in hiding, but at the same time he is deeply damaged by that one remark.

Dear reader, my column is perhaps confusing. I have many true friends in the non-Jewish world, especially among Christians. But antisemitism grows and flourishes. The antisemitic article in De Morgen reminds me of yesterday, the 1930s. Unfortunately, it also reminds of today. I am worried, and I don’t know if that will be understood.

The writer is chief rabbi of the Netherlands.

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