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.’”