anti-Semitism Anti-Semitism in the Netherlands Manfred Gerstenfeld



Anti-Semitic remarks hurled at non-Jews, are still anti-Semitic remarks. Dr.Manfred Gerstenfeld reports on anti-Semitic behaviour in Dutch football that the Tundra Tabloids has never heard of before. There’s a first for everything. KGS

Anti-Semitism on the Dutch Soccer Fields and Beyond

By Dr.Manfred Gerstenfeld

Anti-Semitism is a recurrent problem in the world of soccer. Nowhere else however, is the origin of wide-spread anti-Semitic chants in stadiums as bizarre as in the Netherlands.

Earlier this month, anti-Semitic slogans were the subject of a court case brought by BAN, an organization fighting anti-Semitism, against ADO.[1] In March, this top league club from The Hague won a game against Ajax from Amsterdam. During the match ADO supporters frequently chanted “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas” and “Horrible Cancer Jews.” At a party after ADO’s victory, fans and two players sang in the presence of the trainer, “We are going to chase Jews.”[2] The judge decided that the ADO management would be held responsible to prevent repetition of similar outbursts at future games and if it could not, the management should stop the match.[3]

The Jews at whom the ADO supporters aimed however, were not Jews at all. They were the fanatic fans of Ajax who in a distant past had started to refer to themselves as “Jews.” These supporters accompanied their team with Israeli flags and Stars of David to the stadiums. Some fans even had tattoos of the Star of David. There was a time that when Ajax scored a goal, their fans would sing the Israeli song Hava Nagila.

Ajax has had a few Jewish board members and it has a small number of non-violent Jewish supporters. They make up perhaps 1% of those present at home games. A number of them initially viewed the nickname and its accompanying phenomena favorably not realizing what its long term consequences would be.

Fanatic supporters of other soccer teams, principally from the big cities of Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, considered the Ajax nickname a provocation and started with the hate chants. Initially these were anti-Semitic in nature but not in context, as they were aimed at non-Jews. “Bomb Rotterdam” retorted the Ajax fans when they played against the local team Feyenoord there. They were referring to the murderous bombardments of the town during the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940.

Anti-Semitic songs gradually spread in other directions. In October 2004, Referee Rene Temmink ended a game between ADO and the PSV of Eindhoven. There had been lengthy shouts of “Hamas, Hamas, Temmink to the Gas.” It was the first time in Europe that a top league game was halted midway due to hate chants.

Soccer fans gradually started to sing the anti-Semitic songs elsewhere also aiming at real Jews. Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs — Chief Rabbi of the Dutch interprovincial rabbinate — said that he, together with a non-Jewish psychologist once entered a train full of Feyenoord supporters. When these fans saw them, they started to chant: “Jews to the gas.” Jacobs said that he got the feeling that the whole train of “ordinary Dutchmen” was against them.

The Rabbi added, “The psychologist shrank from fear. It seemed to me that signs of anxiety wouldn’t help us very much, thus I feigned that I was indifferent to it as a sign of strength. One may consider this incident as an act of hooliganism, yet if one of these idiots had attacked us, many more would have probably followed him.”[4]

Nowadays at anti-Israel demonstrations in The Netherlands, “Hamas Hamas, Jews to the gas” is also heard, mainly shouted by Muslims. Even though these kinds of outbursts are prohibited by law, offenders are rarely punished. In one such demonstration in January 2009, two parliamentarians from the left wing Socialist party participated. They claimed afterwards that they hadn’t heard the shouts.[5] There are also reports that Muslim students at various Dutch schools have sung the same hate song to insult Jewish students.[6]

In recent years, Dutch authorities have started to understand that this proliferation of hate songs must be stopped. In May, Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan requested after Ajax became league champions, that its fans stop using the nickname “Jews.” He observed: “It is a matter of changing this behavior, which may take ten years.” {7]

There is a special lesson of the development of soccer related anti-Semitism to be learned by the small Jewish community in the Netherlands. It has been demonstrated once again that Jews must anticipate problems long before they spread into society at large. This issue is yet one more illustration that Jews have to be on guard far more than other groups in Western societies.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld has published 20 books. Several of these address European anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism.

  1. Kemal Rijken, “Welles-nietes tussen BAN en ADO,” NIW, 5 August 2011 [Dutch].
  2. ‘Geschrokken Immers: Jodenjacht leek mij onschuldig’, AD,21 March 2011 [Dutch].
  3. LJN: BR4406, Voorzieningenrechter Rechtbank ‘s-Gravenhage, 398200 / KG ZA 11-812, 9 August 2011.
  4. Interview with Binyomin Jacobs, “rabbijn in een polariserende samenleving.” in Manfred Gerstenfeld Het Verval, (Amsterdam; Van Praag 2009), 175-176. [Dutch]
  5. Cnaan Lipshiz, “Dutch MP: I never heard Gaza protesters shouting ‘Jews to the gas,’ Haaretz15 January 2009.
  6. Annual reports on Anti-Semitism in the Netherlands from The Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI). [Dutch]
  7. Hugo Logtenberg, ‘Van der Laan wil “Joden, Joden” verbannen uit de Arena’, Het Parool, 13 May 2011. [Dutch]

4 Responses

  1. I am shocked.
    I haven’t been to the Netherlands in several years but it always seemed so diverse and tolerant,even of dumb Americans .

    1. Hey Debbie, yes there are dumb Americans, but proportionally, there are even more dumb Europeans, who have so willingly given their hard earned liberties away.

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