On anti-Semitism in the Belgian ‘De Morgen’

It is summertime. Many are abroad and enjoying… but I feel uncomfortable.

The Belgian Newspaper De Morgen (The Morning) published an obscene purely anti-Semitic article. The fact that there is anti-Semitism, is not new to me. But the fact that this can be published more and more frequently, the fact that anti-Semitism is getting more and more common, this makes me worried. If you think I exaggerate, judge for yourself. The article states: “that the land of Israel is not a promised land, it is stolen land”. The article also quotes: “being a Jew is no religion: there is no God who would give His creatures such an ugly nose.”

But also the countless convictions of Israel by the UN bother me. Israel is begin convicted because Israel is the cause that Palestinian women are discriminated. Yes, you read it well: because in the world of Palestinians apparently women take a subordinate place, Israel is guilty of it. And my own country of The Netherlands agreed and applauded when this resolution was passed.

This reminds me of 1976. An airplane of AirFrance was hijacked by the PLO. The plane landed in Entebbe, Uganda, where a psychopath was president. I will spare you the whole history. In case you forgot, google it and you will read all the details. Israel has liberated all the passengers. This rescue operation was a miracle, almost incomprehensible. Many of you will remember the ‘Raid on Entebbe’. But what almost everyone forgot, is the reaction of the UN, the United Nations. They didn’t condemn the PLO for hijacking an airplane with innocent hostages, but Israel was condemned ‘for violation of foreign airspace’…

And also this time, The Netherlands was silent and accepted the umpteenth anti-Israel resolution. Moreover: even before this UN-resolution saw daylight, the Israeli action was condemned by The Netherlands by the Foreign Secretary Van der Stoel and the Socialist leader Ien van den Heuvel.

To make it even worse: I thought that the fairytale of the “cruel old-Testament ‘eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth’” wasn’t preached any more in the Christian churches. Alas, recently I was confronted with it again. It was not meant in an anti-Semitic way, but it was stated publicly. And when I asked this person politely to talk about it, I heard nothing.

A student of mine, a survivor of 1940-1945, recently confided me that he still suffers from that one, probably well-meant, remark. He was only 6 years old when he was separated from his parents and brought to strangers to go into hiding. This little boy of that time is still truly thankful to these people, who saved his life without expecting anything back. But one remark is still haunting him. The mother of the family explained to him, after he was in their house for a few days, that this 6-year-old boy is now being punished, because his parents (ancestors) had killed Jesus. But, so she added, “we bring love and mercy in the world, and therefore we will not deliver you to the Germans…” 

That boy slowly became angry at his own parents. Why did they commit this murder? Because now, he was the victim of it. The boy of then is now of old age. He is an intelligent man and has reached a high position in science. Still he is deeply grateful to the people who kept him in hiding, but at the same time he is deeply damaged, by that one remark.

Dear reader. My column is perhaps confusing. I have many true friends in the non-Jewish world, especially amongst Christians. But Anti-Semitism grows and flourishes. The anti-Semitic article in the Belgian Newspaper ‘The Morning’ reminds me of yesterday, the ’30s. And unfortunately, it also reminds of today. I am worried, and I don’t know if that will be understood.

About the Author
Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs is Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands.
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