It is with great grief that I am writing this plea.
Over the past weeks I have witnessed and experienced several very disturbing events that shocked me, scared me, saddened me and sickened me. Therefore I feel it is my duty as an academically educated man to speak up and speak out my concerns.
I am a 25-year-old Jewish man; I was born and raised in Amsterdam, where I received my education. My upbringing can be considered as moderate Jewish, I have been brought up with both Jewish and secular norms and values. My parents taught me to see every human being as equal; I was taught to not discriminate and to always be considerate and respect the opinions and feelings of others.
My education made me a firm believer of ideas such as but not limited to: Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, the right to (a private and family) life, Sovereignty, the Ruling of the Law, Democracy and Liberalism. It is therefore that I feel blessed to have been born and raised in the Netherlands, a free country which respects these values and protects it with it’s Constitution, because it is something special, something to be cherished and something not to be impaired.
The events of the past few weeks made me question the respect of certain groups within society with regards to the aforementioned ideas. Events such as the downing of a civilian airplane by Russian separatists in Ukraine and the lack of respects shown by these individuals for the victims and their survivors and the subversion of the investigation of this disaster by these same individuals. Events such as the establishment of a Caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria and the rapid increase of it’s power and as a result the slaughter of thousands of opponents and ‘infidels’. Events such as the civil war in Syria, the innocent victims that are being slaughtered and consequently an entire generation that is being lost and the passive attitude of the International Community. Events such as the coward actions of Hamas, the terror organization which rules in Gaza; actions such as: the uninterrupted shooting of rockets towards the State of Israel with the aim to kill as many Israeli civilians as possible, the building and usage of tunnels to infiltrate Israeli soil with the same goal, killing as many Israeli civilians as possible and the usage of a human shield by hiding in dense populated areas and using hospitals, schools and mosques to launch it’s rockets from. The goal which is aimed to achieve here is provoking Israel to make as much civilian casualties as possible on Palestinian side to create the image that Israel is committing war crimes so the world will see Israel as the aggressor, condemn it’s actions and awake sympathy for the Palestinian case. The last category of events that made me question the respect shown for constitutional basic laws is made up out of the excessive increase of pro-Palestine and anti-Israel demonstrations throughout the Western ‘civilized’ world. From my point of view these demonstration are partly a reaction to the conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories, however I believe that there is an underlying motive which frightens me and I feel should be addressed before it escalates even further.
The pro-Palestinian demonstrations that I see, hear and read about are all displays of aggression and hate, this is partly aimed at the State of Israel and it’s actions but is rapidly shifting towards the Jewish world population. The fact that Jews in Europe and the United states but also around the rest of the world are being condemned, cursed at, abused, mentally and physically attacked and denied entrance to restaurants and stores and even medical care proves my observation right. When I came acquainted with the fact that an anti-Jewish demonstration was scheduled in The Hague, the city that resides the Dutch Government and the International Court of Justice, in Holland, my tolerant Holland, I was flabbergasted and felt physically ill. My first reaction was disbelief and denial, however when I found out that this was really happening I was sure the Dutch government would not authorize such an event, again I was proven wrong. The fact that a Dutch governmental body, the municipality of The Hague, provided the initiators of the demonstration a permit for this event left me in even more disbelief. How is it possible that in a Constitutional Monarchy, a member state of the European Union and a country that used to be considered as one of the most tolerant states in the world such an event can take place with governmental authorization? This is a question that I would like to see answered by the responsible officials. During this event demonstrators were chanting a lot of sentences, which can be considered hate speech aimed at the Jewish community. Many of these demonstrators called for the murder and extermination of all Jews and assaulted bystanders, as a cherry on top they did the Hitler/Nazi salute. From my point of view such incidents are shocking, painful, frightening and insulting. Several weeks ago I could not have expected such incidents to happen in the Netherlands. Unfortunately this demonstration of hate and aggression was not an exception; these kind of events take place throughout the entire European continent, often even more violent than in Holland. It is shocking to see how many resemblances can be drawn between these events and scenes from the era of the birth of European Nationalism in the 19th century and those from World War II. As a Jew and connoisseur of (Jewish) contemporary History I consider this to be a very scary development.
All my life I have been confronted with the horrific stories form World War II and the consequences, which it had on European Jewish life. My grandparents of paternal as well as maternal side were and are Holocaust survivors; this made me aware of the past from a very young age. From both sides my family experienced terrible events throughout the war and are dealing with the consequences until this day. Through my school career my knowledge of this theme has been broadened and my awareness to the importance that such an event is never to be repeated again grew firm. It is therefore that I am so disturbed and so concerned about the current developments; my fear is that history is repeating itself. Throughout my life I have always been told that events such as WW II can never take place again, because of globalization and the fact that we are living in a strong developed Information society now, which makes the world interconnected and intertwined and takes away the factor of ‘not knowing’, I shared these views until recently.
Observing the current developments I have to come to the conclusion that ‘not knowing’ is still possible, present ‘not knowing’ however distinguishes itself from historic ‘not knowing’. In present times ‘not knowing’ is selective; it means that people choose to look away, choose to not speak out against injustice, choose to not intervene when their fellow citizens are being assaulted and choose to collaborate with the aggressor without any reasonable grounds. With this in mind I notice that the current increase of Anti-Semitism is made up of a combination of two factors; in the first place there is the eternal Anti-Semitism, which has been around since the birth of Judaism, I think it is safe to say that a high percentage of the world population is anti-Semitic, or at least sympathizes with anti-Semitic ideologies. The ever-present Anti-Semitism has been filtered partly after WW II out of a communal guilty conscience. The increasing influence of Islam on Western civilization however plays a large part in the removal of this filter; to put it euphemistically: the majority of Muslims does not think very highly of the Jewish people and has no shame to express those feelings. The increase of Muslim population throughout the Western world has resulted in an increase of influence for this group, where the ideas of this group used to be regarded as theirs and only theirs, in present days they form the public opinion in many cases. Which brings me to the second factor in the increase of Anti-Semitism: Ignorance, Ignorance is not to be overlooked, ignorance about Judaism, the Jewish people, Zionism, the State of Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Many non-Jews, Muslim and Christian as well as others are not aware of all the facts regarding these matters or worse are not acquainted with any of the facts but form an opinion nevertheless. Especially with regards to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict people feel it is their duty to express their discontent about the suffering of the ‘underdog’ and to express their anger towards the ‘aggressor’. I will not try to explain the conflict here and give my point of view because I feel it leads to endless discussions, discussions where there are far too many of, I will limit myself here by saying that a democratic state has a duty to protect it’s citizens from danger both internal and external, a state as Israel especially is occupied with this duty since it is established in such a hostile environment. That being said I would like to mention that from my point of view one should not form an opinion without having factual knowledge of the matter.
From my point of view there are two misconceptions, which are always being overlooked with regards to the Jewish people. The first is the fact that the Jewish people are not very interested in other cultures, Judaism is one of the few religions, which does not have a firm policy of converting people, quite the opposite is true, it is extremely difficult to convert to Judaism, it takes years of studying and preparing and even then it is still not certain that one will be accepted as a genuine Jew. The Jewish community as a whole is very closed and is mainly concerned about the wellbeing of it’s own members and tries not to get too involved in external matters. This applies both to the Jews of the Diaspora as to the Jews of Israel. This brings me to the second misconception; the return to Zion is a component of Judaism, therefore Zionism is part of Judaism; Zionistic Diaspora Jews and Israeli Jews share the feeling that the Jewish Nation has the right to have a sovereign state in the land of Israel and the ability to achieve wellbeing within this state is what matters most, other matters are considered to be details. The closed character of the Jewish Community sparks curiosity from outsiders, unanswered curiosity, leads to jealousy and unanswered jealousy on it’s turn leads to Anti-Semitism in many cases. The questions that keep appearing before my eyes are these: are the Jewish people to blame for being a closed community, for not having the intention to convert outsiders to Judaism, for having the desire to fulfil their biblical destiny and for wanting a sovereign state for their Nation?
The observation of the Jewish community leads me to the core issue of my plea; the non-Jewish world is obsessed with the Jewish people in a negative way. The aforementioned factors for Anti-Semitism mixed with the character of the Jewish Community and the effect it has on society creates a deadly cocktail called obsession. This obsession emerges most obvious in recent days in the media; the media appear to be very selective in their coverage of conflicts. It seems that the media are not interested in suffering of the Jewish people in conflicts around the world, the same goes for the conflicts where Jews can not be blamed, conflicts where Jews are involved and are considered the stronger party on the other hand, receive a disproportionate amount of media attention. The media are a reflection of world views, it is basically a matter of supply and demand; the obsession the non-Jewish world has with Judaism puts a magnifying glass on the Jewish people. This creates a vicious circle; more biased media coverage leads to a bigger obsession and vice versa, this circle is practically impossible to break. The obsession has been around since the birth of Judaism and it will always be around, for some reason the Jew appears to be an easy victim, throughout history the Jewish people have been accused and prosecuted by a variety of enemies. In ancient times it were Amalek, Haman and the Romans, among others, whom tried to destroy and exterminate the Jews. They did not succeed. We did not surrender, on the contrary we survived and we revived. In the Middle ages it were the Crusaders and the Inquisitors on behalf of the Catholic Church, among others, whom tried to destroy and exterminate the Jews. They did not succeed. We did not surrender, we survived and we revived. In the 19th century it were mainly the Nationalists that tried to destroy and exterminate the Jews. They did not succeed. We did not surrender, we survived and we revived. In the 20th century it were the Nazis among others that tried to destroy and exterminate us. They did not succeed. We did not surrender, we survived and we revived. In the 21st century it is the Arab-Muslim world that wants and tries to destroy and exterminate the Jews. They will not succeed. We will not surrender; we will survive, revive and flourish.
I will never hide my identity as a Jew, I would rather die; I will fight for my identity and the preservation of it. It is my duty to fight this fight, it is my duty to honour the ones that have fallen for our freedom, it is my duty to cherish and protect this freedom, it is my duty to pass on the legacy, it is my duty to respect and appreciate the struggles and efforts that have been made for the Zionist cause, it is my duty to cherish the fact that there is a state that I can call my home as a Jew, it is my duty to protect this home like my own and it is my duty to do whatever I can to assure the survival of my people, my nation. At the same time I feel it is my duty to fight for the preservation of the tolerant character of my country of birth and to fight for the preservation of and the respect for the aforementioned constitutional basic laws and enlightened Ideas, which form the basis of Western civilization, both in the Netherlands as throughout the entire European continent. I do solemnly swear to fulfil all my duties and it is therefore that my weapon of choice is the pen, to express my concerns, my fears and my anger.
Taking all of the above in account I would like to make a request to all members of Western civilization; please do not look away from anti-Semitic violence, not again, please do not hide behind ignorance, please do not choose to be in silence but instead speak out and condemn injustice, please do not judge and form an opinion without having factual knowledge and please do not follow the mass but use your own ratio.
With that in mind I am demanding the International Community to speak out against Anti-Semitism and I am urging all governmental officials around the Western world to do everything within their power to not let the situation escalate even further and let history repeats itself. Let us try to break the circle together.