Europe’s Centuries-Old Anti-Semitic Easter Traditions

April 14 2023

In the past three decades, much has been written and said about the “new anti-Semitism.” But a look at some local European Easter celebrations suggests that there is plenty of the old anti-Semitism to be found as well—and not just in religiously conservative countries like Poland, but even in the supposedly tolerant and progressive Netherlands. Canaan Lidor reports:

At a festive procession in Pruchnik, a small town in southeastern Poland, townsmen watch the ceremonial burning of a kippah-wearing effigy they’ve named Judas as part of a Christian event. In a small Dutch municipality, dozens of men wearing matching attire march through their city’s streets singing of the Jews’ murder of Jesus Christ. . . . A testament to the deep, abiding roots of Jew-hatred on the continent, the events held last week are among several traditions that persist in 21st-century Europe, despite repeated protests by Jewish and other critics.

The anti-Jewish caroling in the Netherlands’ eastern town of Ootmarsum sees singers in matching outfits denounce “the Jews who with their false council sacrificed Jesus on the cross.” . . . . Easter caroling at Ootmarsum has come under criticism, including by the influential Dutch rabbi Lody van der Kamp. The rabbi, who was born in the east of the Netherlands, last year called the tradition “unfathomable” in an interview.

A visitor from a nearby town, who is among the hundreds of tourists who come to Ootmarsum annually to watch the Easter caroling procession, defended the original lyrics to [the local newspaper]. “Why should I get involved,” demanded Jaap Meerkerk. “Let the incessant complainers find some other target than this beautiful tradition. No one here came to offend anyone,” Meerkerk said.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Anti-Semitism, Jewish-Christian relations, Netherlands, Poland


Why President Biden Needs Prime Minister Netanyahu as Much as Netanyahu Needs Biden

Sept. 28 2023

Last Wednesday, Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu met for the first time since the former’s inauguration. Since then, Haim Katz, Israel’s tourism minister, became the first Israeli cabinet member to visit Saudi Arabia publicly, and Washington announced that it will include the Jewish state in its visa-waiver program. Richard Kemp, writing shortly after last week’s meeting, comments:

Finally, a full nine months into Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest government, President Joe Biden deigned to allow him into his presence. Historically, American presidents have invited newly installed Israeli prime ministers to the White House shortly after taking office. Even this meeting on Wednesday, however, was not in Washington but in New York, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Such pointed lack of respect is not the way to treat one of America’s most valuable allies, and perhaps the staunchest of them all. It is all about petty political point-scoring and interfering in Israel’s internal democratic processes. But despite his short-sighted rebuke to the state of Israel and its prime minister, Biden actually needs at least as much from Netanyahu as Netanyahu needs from him. With the 2024 election looming, Biden is desperate for a foreign-policy success among a sea of abject failures.

In his meeting with Netanyahu, Biden no doubt played the Palestinian issue up as some kind of Saudi red line and the White House has probably been pushing [Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman] in that direction. But while the Saudis would no doubt want some kind of pro-forma undertaking by Israel for the sake of appearances, [a nuclear program and military support] are what they really want. The Saudis’ under-the-table backing for the original Abraham Accords in the face of stiff Palestinian rejection shows us where its priorities lie.

Israel remains alone in countering Iran’s nuclear threat, albeit with Saudi and other Arab countries cheering behind the scenes. This meeting won’t have changed that. We must hope, however, that Netanyahu has been able to persuade Biden of the electoral benefit to him of settling for a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia rather than holding out for the unobtainable jackpot of a two-state solution.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship