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Op-Ed: Dutch Jewish Leaders Sign a Damning Declaration

In an interfaith Dutch forum, the Israel-Hamas conflict is equated with the IS-Syria-Iraq slaughter. Other parts of the declaration are just as problematic.
Published: Thursday, September 04, 2014 9:35 PM


Problematic declarations of Dutch Jewish community leaders continue to be published. The latest comes after a recent meeting of the Cairo-Consultation. In this forum, Dutch Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders meet from time to time with the aim of planning useful joint projects.


Stating the disproportionately high level of criminality within the Moroccan community in the Netherlands in comparison to their percentage of the general Dutch population is a fact and not Islamophobia.
The Jewish representatives, however, are in a very difficult minority position in these forums. The community they represent is only a fraction of the size of those of the other participants.   

The recent joint statement opens with “For us Muslims, Jews and Christians in the Netherlands, religion is like a fire. One can warm oneself with it, but there are also people who use it for arson.” 

Immediately thereafter, the major manipulations start. The text draws attention to two Middle East conflicts which have not only a religious but also a societal, social and political character: the conflict between Israel and Hamas, and that between the Islamic State Movement (IS) and the authorities of Syria and Iraq. IS, however, also murders – wholesale - Christians and Yezidis, Muslims of different denominations and Westerners, while Hamas concentrates on Jews.

There are many other major Middle East clashes entirely between Muslims, which have extremely violent characteristics. Thus, the mention of solely these two conflicts gives undue attention to the Gaza battle, which is far from being one of the most violent. The Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif was right when he told the BBC that the sectarian tension between Shia and Sunni Muslims is probably the most serious threat to world security.[1] 

The joint statement continues with another dubious phrase: "We are convinced that the key message of Judaism, Christianity and Islam serves peace". 

Concerning Christianity and Islam, this statement does not hold up. Major Christian forces have persecuted and discriminated against the Jews for at least 15 centuries.

The Catholic Church only changed its position less than 50 years ago in its Nostra Aetate declaration.[2]  The major Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, incited the people against the Jews in a most horrible way.[3]  Both the Catholic Church and Lutheranism helped, with their frequent anti-Semitic pronouncements, to lay the basis for the Holocaust. 

This Cairo-Consultation text whitewashes the history of murderous persecution by Christians in Europe. 

As far as Islam goes, one can hear during demonstrations throughout the Netherlands the shouts of "Khaybar," a murderous expression which goes back to the Koran. It recalls Mohammed’s killing of Jews.[4] Currently, the huge murderous criminality coming out of parts of the Muslim community exceeds by far that out of any other religion’s followers. It seems to get worse and worse. 

The statement by the Cairo-Consultation participants continues by saying that the signatories “see in our co-inhabitants of the Earth our neighbors whom we have to love and assist.” It is yet another claim which masks the truth. 

The Protestant umbrella organization, PKN, doesn't want to expel the Dutch Sabeel movement which knowingly ignores the Islamo-Nazism of Hamas, the largest Palestinian party.[5] By signing this Cairo-Consultation statement, the PKN shows its profound hypocrisy once again. The Kairos Declaration, which is an inciteful, anti-Israeli document prepared by marginal Palestinian Christian flatterers of those Muslims who control the "Palestinian territories" has been widely distributed by the PKN.[6] The organization also largely ignores the suffering of the many Christians who are persecuted in the Muslim world. 

The statement goes on to say that both hatred of Jews and Islamophobia should not be tolerated. The juxtaposition of the two is highly misleading. Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia share a common element in the rejection by many Westerners of the "other." Yet the difference between these two types of fear and stereotyped discrimination is much greater than their similarity.

Although both groups face adversity in modern Europe, the scope and styles of persecution could not be more different. Anti-Semitism has its origins in many centuries of religious and ethnic hate propaganda. Islamophobia is partly the result of actual violence emerging from and supported by many Muslims in the name of Islam.

The expression “Islamophobia” is thus very often abused. If individuals named “Ahmed” or “Mohamed” are candidates for a vacancy and their candidacy is refused because of their Muslim name, the Islamophobia is obvious. The same is true when somebody pulls off the headscarf of a Muslim woman. 

However, stating the disproportionately high level of criminality within the Moroccan community in the Netherlands in comparison to their percentage of the general Dutch population is a fact and not Islamophobia. The same is true if one states another fact: that a hugely disproportionate part of the aggression and incitement against Jews in the Netherlands originates from parts of the Dutch Muslim community. 

The joint text continues by saying that “whoever knows the other shall not curse him or her.” That is sidetracking the issue. The issue is not about mere cursing, but about the reality of contemporary Islam from which may emerge the greatest dangers to humanity at large.

To sum it up: Dutch Muslims should be very happy with this text, Christians less so, and the Jews not at all.

The analysis of the Cairo-Consultation’s joint statement and such analysis of semantics in general is important because it may help to prevent future similar mistakes.

One can only comprehend the Jews having agreed to sign this statement against the background of Dutch Jewry’s reality. Not more than fifty thousand people, or 0.3 % of the Dutch population, self-identify as Jews. All the Dutch Jewish organizations have, altogether, perhaps 8-9,000 members. The Jewish community wants to live safely and quietly in the Netherlands.

Events such as recent anti-Semitic outbursts, or the debate, several years ago, about the prohibition of ritual slaughter push this small community to the media’s front pages. Its leaders are ill-equipped to deal with these phenomena.

The Dutch government wants to maintain social peace in the Netherlands, which is disproportionately threatened by parts of the Muslim community. One component that may help to achieve such an illusion seems to be for the Jews to not draw too much attention to the problems caused their community by many Muslims.

Sources:

[1] www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24893808

[2] Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions
Nostra Aetate Proclaimed By His Holiness Pope Paul VI On 28 October 1965.

[3] Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Hans Jansen, “The Deep Roots of Protestant Anti-Semitism,” in Demonizing Israel and the Jews, 144-46.

[4] Louis Bontes, “Oproep tot geweld tegen Joden bij ISIS-demonstratie aanpakken”, VNL Voor Nederland, 7/72014 [Dutch] www.bontesvanklaveren.nl/pak-bedreiging-en-geweldsoproep-isis-demonstratie-aan/

[5] www.refdag.nl/opinie/pkn_verbreek_banden_met_sabeel_1_813364

[6] Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Hans Jansen, “Protestants and Israel: The Kairos Document Debate”, in Demonizing Israel and the Jews, (New York: RVP Press, 2013), 80-82.