Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Anti-semitism and the Netherlands

Verbal and violent anti-Semitism in the Netherlands is probably greater today than it has been during any other time in the last four centuries except the Nazi occupation. And excessive Dutch tolerance has become an incentive for crime; due to the relatively high crime rate among the Dutch Moroccan community and international Arab anti-Semitic hate propaganda, Jews are above average targets for their racists' behavior. Easily recognizable Jews often try to hide their identity in public.

Immigration of large numbers of Muslims to The Netherlands over the past four decades has created major challenges for the Dutch Jewish community. These include, for instance, increased verbal and physical violence against Jews and the Jewish community, the need for greater security measures, a negative impact on the teaching of the Holocaust in Dutch schools, and changed attitudes on the part of the authorities and third parties toward the needs of the Jewish community.

During a major anti-Israel demonstration in April 2002 in Amsterdam, Israeli flags were burned by marching Muslims. Few Dutchmen if any would have thought then that in 2008, in a variety of Muslim countries, Dutch flags would be burned as a protest against the movie "Fitna" by Wilders.

Now the government is fed up with the growing antisemitism, mainly caused by the Dutch Moroccan youth and proposed a new method to counter aggression towards the Jewish community in the Netherlands: "Jewish decoys". In other words, law enforcers posing as members of the Jewish community in order to catch offenders red handed. A spokesperson for the City of Amsterdam says the method fits with the mayor's "aim to examine unorthodox approaches to stop violence involving discrimination".

In an editorial, a large Dutch newspaper speaks of "abhorrent violence" and a "climate of fear" in which "Jews in at least six Amsterdam neighbourhoods often cannot cross the street wearing a skullcap without being insulted, spat at or even attacked." It calls for the authorities to "take firm action" and argues that if there are problems gathering evidence, then the use of "Jewish decoys" should be considered.

On policy reports that the decoy method is becoming something of a trend: "over the past two years, decoy prostitutes, decoy gays and decoy grannies have all been pressed into service." The police in Gouda are particularly pleased with their decoy granny. A police spokeswoman states proudly "If we receive several reports of street robbery in a certain location, we send out the granny. That soon quietens things down."

There is also a lesson to be drawn for the autochthonous Dutch. If after 400 years of Jewish presence in The Netherlands, so many Dutch have such views about this small community, what is the likelihood that The Netherlands, within a foreseeable future, will integrate their ten percent of non-Western immigrants and their progeny? These people, who arrived at most a few decades ago, are much more remote from Dutch society than the Jews have been for a long time. Other important factors which can impede this integration include the unprecedented incitement of Muslims by Arab satellite television. Furthermore, radicals in the Muslim community are likely to cause frequent friction in The Netherlands. A sad situation.
In previous centuries the Jews played important roles in Dutch society. The Portuguese Jews did so in Dutch trade in the 17th century. In the 19th century the textile and diamond industries would not have flourished without the Jews. A number of the largest Dutch companies today were founded entirely or partially by Jews. Jews also played an important role in the inception of the trade unions. Nothing similar exists today.

However, the symbolic role of the Jews in The Netherlands is enormous. It is doubtful whether The Netherlands can do without them. It cannot be without Jews in the imaginary spheres, whether to reflect about the past and the Holocaust in society, as stereotypes which have become part of the Dutch language, as instruments for various purposes, or as sensors for the future. These roles have by now become embedded in Dutch culture. The Jews' symbolic role in The Netherlands is of great importance for the country.

Day Opening - June 22

That's relaxing...

Will Purple+ be the Dutch future?

The Dutch national elections resulted in a gap between left and right wing parties. Most of the Christian Democrat voters went to either the Liberals or to the Freedom Party (which name is a farce). Most of the Christian Democrat voters who voted for the Freedom party were from the southern provinces.

The queen decided to appoint an informer who had to investigate a coalition between the largest party, the Liberals, and the Freedom Party, which gained most extra seats in the parliament. Unfortunately this information round didn't work out, because the third potential coalition party, the Christian Democrats, refused to form a government together with Wilders (Freedom Party). Too bad, because now Wilders will be back in the opposition, which will result in more irrational babbling about Islamisation of The Netherlands and creating anti-Muslim sentiments among the brainless mass. I was sincerely hoping for a cabinet with Wilder c.s., so the illusion would collapse within a few months, just like what happened to the LPF in 2002 after a huge win. Now Wilders can profit of his free role to scream and shout whatever the ordinary man wants to hear. Let me be clear, it's a choice between two evils for me, but now the game of negotiation between the more settled political parties takes place.

Although... now the focus is on a so called Purple coalition. In the 90s there was also a combination of Liberals, Socialists and also the smaller Liberal Democrats. Now there's an extra party added, the Green Party. This is quite unique, because the Liberals and Greens are traditionally eachother's opposite. Hopefully durability and entrepreneurship will walk hand in hand, because it is really necessary in this world. If Purple Plus will become reality. And the other two partners of the negotiations? Well, the Socialist party, led by the verbally handicapped leader Cohen, and Liberal Democrats, led by prodigal son Alexander Pechtold seems minor. It is the role of the Greens that's decisive for a coalition that could work.

Conclusion? The Dutch political system is complicated, costing lots of time (since WW2 the total time of negiotiating has been about 6,5 years, based on 26 cabinets with an average time of 90 days!) and unstable cabinets.
Could this be a plea for a simplified two party system, like in the Anglo-Saxon countries? In my humble opinion we should give it a shot at least. It'll take two more cabinets to realise a constitutional change, so I'll have to be patient.