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

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship