Dutch Soccer Games Have Become Breeding Grounds for Anti-Semitism

March 14 2019

According to a report released on Tuesday, 2018 saw a sharp increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the Netherlands. As in other European countries, some of these incidents center on soccer: certain teams are branded as “Jewish,” and as a result rival teams shout anti-Semitic slogans at matches. Hundreds of spectators can thus be heard at Dutch soccer stadiums shouting “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas” or “My father served with the commandos, my mother was with the SS. Together they burned Jews, because Jews burn best.” Manfred Gerstenfeld explains how this peculiar kind of anti-Semitism relates to attitudes toward Jews more generally:

This pervasive soccer anti-Semitism is the result of tolerance for expressions of extreme hate, including anti-Semitism, in Dutch society. It manifests itself in many ways. As far back as 2004, the director of the CIDI, [a Dutch] organization [that] fights anti-Semitism, said it was futile to lodge complaints with the authorities. . . . Worse still, also in 2004, the mayor of Heerenveen, a town with a major football club, took the position that the commission dealing with soccer vandalism should not take serious action against hate songs. . . .

The anti-Semitic hate chants have spread into the public domain. In 2009, there was an anti-Israel demonstration in Amsterdam in which two left-wing parliamentarians participated. There, as in the stadiums, chants of “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas” were heard. The parliamentarians later claimed they had not noticed them. . . .

Soccer anti-Semitism has by now been fully integrated into the wider “culture” of Dutch anti-Semitism. Even though self-defining Jews represent only 0.2 percent of the Dutch population, in 2017, out of all complaints about punishable discrimination that reached prosecution, 41 percent concerned anti-Semitism. More than three-quarters of these were related to soccer. The head of the Dutch rabbinate, Binyomin Jacobs, said more than ten years ago that when something happens in Israel, “I am shouted at in the street, ‘Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.’”

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More about: Anti-Semitism, European Jewry, Netherlands, Politics & Current Affairs


The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

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More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey