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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What Egypt’s Withdrawal from the “Arab NATO” Signifies for U.S. Strategy

A few weeks ago, Egypt quietly announced its withdrawal from the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), a coalition—which also includes Jordan, the Gulf states, and the U.S.—founded at President Trump’s urging to serve as an “Arab NATO” that could work to contain Iran. Jonathan Ariel notes three major factors that most likely contributed to Egyptian President Sisi’s abandonment of MESA: his distrust of Donald Trump (and concern that Trump might lose the 2020 election) and of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman; Cairo’s perception that Iran does not pose a major threat to its security; and the current situation in Gaza:

Gaza . . . is ruled by Hamas, defined by its covenant as “one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.” Sisi has ruthlessly persecuted the Brotherhood in Egypt. [But] Egypt, despite its dependence on Saudi largesse, has continued to maintain its ties with Qatar, which is under Saudi blockade over its unwillingness to toe the Saudi line regarding Iran. . . . Qatar is also supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, . . . and of course Hamas.

[Qatar’s ruler] Sheikh Tamim is one of the key “go-to guys” when the situation in Gaza gets out of hand. Qatar has provided the cash that keeps Hamas solvent, and therefore at least somewhat restrained. . . . In return, Hamas listens to Qatar, which does not want it to help the Islamic State-affiliated factions involved in an armed insurrection against Egyptian forces in northern Sinai. Egypt’s military is having a hard enough time coping with the insurgency as it is. The last thing it needs is for Hamas to be given a green light to cooperate with Islamic State forces in Sinai. . . .

Over the past decade, ever since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power, Israel has also been gradually placing more and more chips in its still covert but growing alliance with Saudi Arabia. Egypt’s decision to pull out of MESA should give it cause to reconsider. Without Egypt, MESA has zero viability unless it is to include either U.S. forces or Israeli ones. [But] one’s chances of winning the lottery seem infinitely higher than those of MESA’s including the IDF. . . . Given that Egypt, the Arab world’s biggest and militarily most powerful state and its traditional leader, has clearly indicated its lack of confidence in the Saudi leadership, Israel should urgently reexamine its strategy in this regard.

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More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy