According to a recent survey, 40 percent of Dutch school teachers report witnessing at least one anti-Semitic incident in the past year. Hans Wallage comments on the two factors most likely to bring hostility to Jews to the surface, the first being public discourse surrounding the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
The Dutch media landscape plays a critical role in [the problem]: there is little room for a nuanced analysis or historical background in news coverage and opinion pieces. More and more often, there is also a glaring lack of knowledge about the conflict, resulting in very one-sided, incomplete, and sometimes even incorrect reporting. In recent times, the conflict has been increasingly depicted from a perpetrator-victim perspective, with barely any attention for the fact that Israel is fighting a war against terrorists, who aim to kill civilians.
The report also demonstrates that soccer rivalries in and outside stadiums are a huge trigger for anti-Semitic agitation. Since the 1970s and 1980s, supporters of the Amsterdam soccer club Ajax have nicknamed themselves as “Jews.” This Jewish identity is based on the historic (and largely inaccurate) perception of their club being rooted in the Jewish community.
At first glance, the nickname seems harmless, as Ajax supporters claim to be proud of the so-called “Jewish” identity of the club and its fan base. However, supporters of rival clubs use this identity as a stick to attack the team. As a result, anti-Semitic lyrics that have nothing to do with soccer can be heard during every professional match. “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas,” “Jews burn the best,” “It’s cold and stormy, throw some Jews on the fire,” and “whoever does not jump is a Jew” are some of the slogans, part of a large repertoire of anti-Semitic slurs.
Although this problem has existed for decades, nothing has been done about it so far. Politicians, soccer organizations, and supporters’ groups shift responsibility and point to each other. In addition, this hatred is often dismissed as a [purely sports-related] issue and therefore not considered anti-Semitic. The opinion of the Jewish community is not taken into account.