Dr.Manfred Gerstenfeld interviews Chaim Nisan, on the anti-Semitic experiences he confronted as a religious Jew in the Netherlands at the hands of Muslim Moroccans.
In the supermarket, most of the anti-Semitic incidents were caused by our Moroccan customers. They uttered insulting remarks or called me names. Often they were physically intimidating. They called many curses like “cancer Jew” and “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas”. Some Moroccans gave me the Hitler salute. Others said nothing, but followed me in a disturbing way. In an average week there were two to three such incidents. In less than a year while I worked in the supermarket, there were at least a hundred of such incidents. However, I did not have to submit to the CIDI or other external group.
The number of incidents increased significantly, especially during the Muslim Eid. Often the Moroccans came in festive dress to our store. I was constantly insulted and several times I complained to my boss. He was always friendly and attentive and gave me a job in the knowledge that I wear a yarmulke. When the situation became threatening, he had someone else work in the same place where I worked. There was never any physical confrontations that occurred, because there are security people who would respond if something requiring immediate action were to happen and those who attacked me, knew that.
I also had Moroccan colleagues. They never talked to me, barely looked at me. They could not do more, because I would have made a complaint to my boss if they would have. It had effects on them. In this supermarket there worked about 20 people with an immigrant background. There were no problems with Turks, Antilleans, Spanish or Portuguese. I only had problems with Moroccans.
With Sabbath I often went to Rotterdam. To get to the synagogue we had a neighborhood where many Moroccans were living. Each Sabbath we were scolded at least two to three times. All these experiences we had with Moroccans.
We had a positive meeting with young people from the West Indies. They saw our skullcaps and asked: “Are you Israelis?” We explained that we were not Israelis, but Jews. They said, “That’s class.” They saw that we had Hebrew prayer book with us and asked if we could read it. They found it very interesting.
In Amsterdam I was a guest with someone who lived near the synagogue in the western part. Repeatedly on the Sabbath we were also regularly insulted. The attackers made gestures and shouted that they would kill us. I also attended a half year in Antwerp and was never offended.
Since 2010 I live forever in Israel, I got married in 2012. I do not wear ultra-orthodox clothing any more, but I’m still religious. I’m studying to become a rabbi and teacher and I already have a license to perform kosher slaughter.
I have visited the Netherlands a few times in recent years. I always wear a hood when I go there go in order to hide my yarmulke. However, I wear the ritual prayer rope outside my pants. Thus I am especially recognizable to other Jews and to outsiders less so.
I no longer have the strength for the tense conditions in the Netherlands that I came into contact with. I also do not want my wife to see me in conflict. If I wear a yarmulke, a crocheted one, which can also be mistaken for a Muslim head covering. Young people often associate only small skullcaps with Jews.
However, once a Moroccan spat in my face on the train to The Hague. A Dutch woman saw that and was amazed. She asked, “Why did that guy that” I pointed to my yarmulke and replied that it would have to do with my being recognizable a Jew, would have something to do with it. She asked: “Do you think that was the reason?” I replied that not only I would I think that, but I knew it was the truth. It amazes me that there are still Dutch who surprised about these incidents.