Flag of the Netherlands
Flag of the Netherlands iStock

The prevalence of illegal discrimination against Jews in the Netherlands nearly doubled in 2017, reaching a five-year high that accounts for 41 percent of all xenophobic incidents recorded.

The data appeared in a report published last month by the Dutch Public Prosecution Service of 144 confirmed criminal offenses involving xenophobia handled in 2017 by the judiciary. The cases surveyed include intimidation, vandalism, assault and incitement to hate or violence.

Of the 144 cases surveyed, 42 percent were directed against victims for their “skin color, ethnicity and national or ethnic origins,” the report said. Another 41 percent of incidents were “directed against Jews” — whose proportion of the Dutch population is 0.2 percent. Another seven percent of the 144 incidents were against victims for their “religion or way of life,” including Muslims. Criminal discrimination against homosexuals accounted for eight percent of the 144 cases.

In 2016, discrimination against Jews accounted for 22 percent of the 163 cases upheld by the Dutch judiciary.

In addition to cases of 144 clear-cut criminal discrimination, the report lists 187 cases involving convictions for other offenses where xenophobia was not the main motive, but where it nonetheless featured as an aggravating circumstance. Of those, nine percent involved anti-Semitism and in another nine percent Muslims were targeted for their faith.

Of the more than 60 cases involving direct criminal discrimination against Jews in 2017, more than three quarters were related to soccer. In the Netherlands, anti-Semitic rhetoric is common during soccer matches, in which both supporters of the Ajax team from Amsterdam and the supporters of rival teams refer to Ajax as “Jews.”

In March, the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, the Dutch Jewish community’s watchdog on anti-Semitism, published a report listing 117 anti-Semitic incidents in 2017. The figure recorded in 2016 was 109.

Of the 117 cases recorded by CIDI in 2017, 28 incidents involved anti-Semitic vandalism – a 10-year high in that category following a 40-percent increase over 2016.