Dutch cafe owner: Time to ‘smite down’ Israeli tourists

A Dutch restaurant owner called for violence against Israeli tourists.

Dutch Jewry’s watchdog on anti-Semitism filed a complaint with police for incitement to violence on Thursday against Youness Ouaali, 30, pertaining to text he posted on Facebook two days earlier about a picture of a blood-covered boy titled “Palestinian child shot by Israel’s illegal occupation clutching on to his last breath.”

Ouaali, who owns the Bon Appetit cafe in the city of Bussum near Amsterdam, wrote: “Maybe it’s a good idea, starting today, to totally smite down Israeli tourists (not children)?”

He added: “Those who won’t listen need to feel. Enough is enough!!! Time to give a clear signal, I think. 14 years old and cold-bloodily shot down and sworn at till his last breath!!! May Allah reward him with djenna,” Arabic for heaven.

Ouaali appears to be referring to a 13-year-old Palestinian boy whom Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas this week said was executed, but is alive and hospitalized in a Jerusalem hospital. The boy is recovering from wounds he sustained when he was hit by a car after stabbing an Israeli of the same age riding a bicycle.

“The violence must not spill over to the Netherlands,” the watchdog group, the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, said in a statement. “It is of importance that Ouaali be located and urgently be brought before a judge.”

The text he wrote about Israelis should be removed, the center said.

Dutch Jewish school closed after anti-terrorist raid in Belgium

The only Orthodox Jewish school in the Netherlands was closed on Friday as a precautionary measure after an anti-terrorism raid in Belgium left two suspects dead.

There was no concrete threat against the Cheider School in Amsterdam, Dutch national broadcaster NOS said, citing the school's Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs. School phones went unanswered Friday morning.

Jewish schools in Antwerp and Brussels are also temporarily closed after two terrorism suspects were killed in a raid in Verviers, Belgium, on Thursday.

Dutch Jewish schools and prominent Jewish monuments – including Amsterdam's Anne Frank House and Jewish Historical Museum – have had extra security since June, on advice of the country's national anti-terrorism office.

That followed a terrorism-related shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, Belgium, in May that killed four.

Dutch Jews seek ban on rallies featuring hate speech

Following repeated calls to kill Jews in protest rallies in The Hague, representatives of the Dutch Jewish community urged local authorities to crack down on anti-Semitic incitement.

The appeal by the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, came Friday following two demonstrations in The Hague this month in which protesters made menacing statements about Jews.

“The Hague is known internationally as a city of peace and law,” CIDI wrote in the statement. “It is unfathomable that this could happen in this city.”

The statement was in reference to a demonstration by 150 people in the heavily Muslim Schilderswijk neighborhood of the Hague. Protesters who had gathered there on Thursday evening to demonstrate against Israel’s actions in Gaza chanted “death to Israel, death to the Jews” in Arabic.

The prosecutor’s office of the Hague said in a statement that a police officer who speaks Arabic was present at the demonstration but did not find that the calls “crossed the line.” But the prosecutor’s office will review video footage of the demonstration to determine whether the calls constituted incitement to hate and will punish the parties responsible if their actions violated the law, the statement said.

The CIDI, a watchdog monitoring anti-Semitism, was joined in its call by the Central Jewish Board, or CJO — the umbrella group representing Jewish communities and organizations in the Netherlands.

An earlier protest in the Schilderswijk on July 4 — four days before Israel launched its assault on Hamas — featured similar calls. That rally was to protest the arrest of Dutch Muslims who had fought with jihadists in Syria.

Netherlands to deploy more police at Jewish sites after Belgium attack

Dutch authorities said on Tuesday they were deploying more police officers at Jewish sites, including cultural centers, schools and synagogues, after three people were shot dead at the Jewish Museum in Brussels this weekend.

The attacker, who was caught on a security camera firing a Kalashnikov rifle before fleeing, is on the run.

Stepping up security was a precaution and there were no indications of an immediate threat in the Netherlands, the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice said.

Security was also ramped up in France, where President Francois Hollande said there was no doubt Sunday's killings of two Israelis and a French woman were motivated by anti-Semitism.

It was unclear how long the measure in the Netherlands would remain in force, but authorities were in regular contact with Jewish groups, a ministry spokesman said.

Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Louise Ireland

Music makes the long journey from Israel to L.A.

It was late during World War II and Curt Lowens, a member of the Dutch resistance whose family had fled Berlin after Kristallnacht, saw an Allied plane in distress. He knew what he had to do. 

Lowens followed the plane, watched as its pilots bailed out and then met them on the ground, guiding them to safety and helping them evade capture by the Nazis. Now, Lowens’ act of heroism and the story of his life during the war are being honored by a concerto written by award-winning composer Sharon Farber, which will be premiered by the Glendale Philharmonic Orchestra on Jan. 5 at the First Baptist Church of Glendale.

The story of how Farber met Lowens, now 88, is a tale of happy coincidences and being in the right place at the right time. Farber was born in Israel and came to the United States to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1994. Then  she moved to Los Angeles and began scoring for film and television, working on projects as diverse as The WB’s “Superman” animated series and Showtime docudramas. But despite her success in film and TV, Farber had a longing to do something different.

“I come from a classical background, so I knew, always, that I wanted to continue with that,” Farber said during a recent interview. “Unless you’re a film music fan, you don’t really pay attention to the music, while in concert music, people come to hear what you have to say.”

So Farber set about writing classical pieces and soon found her works being produced around town. She was working with an Israeli choir called LA-Shir when fate steered her life in a different direction. The group was performing at the Temple of the Arts, and, according to Farber, “After the performance, [Rabbi David Baron] approached me and asked me if I would consider becoming the new music director. I said ‘no’… but David is a very persuasive man.”

And so a partnership was born. Farber has been the music director at the synagogue ever since, something that has brought her much closer to her faith. 

“When you live in Israel, you take your Judaism for granted,” Farber said. “I realized that here, you have to really seek for it.”

Sharon Farber

Other things, though, just walk into your life — kind of like Curt Lowens. That happened for Farber on Yom Kippur this past year as the composer was searching for inspiration after having been contacted by Ruslan Biryukov, founder of the Glendale Philharmonic, about composing a piece for the group. 

That’s when Lowens, who became an actor, walked onstage and began to speak about his life at the Temple of the Arts. Farber knew she’d found the source of inspiration for her piece.

“When Ruslan called me … for this commission, I was really burned out. I’d just finished three films in a row,” Farber said. “And then, of course, came Yom Kippur, where Curt’s story was presented, and it was so moving … that it inspired me to try and put his story into music.”

The result is a cello concerto roughly 20 minutes in length called “Bestemming,” which means “destination” in Dutch. The piece includes narration, which will be read by Michael Des Barres, the actor and musician, whom many will remember from his role as the villainous Murdoc on “MacGyver.” 

Biryukov said he is excited to premiere the concerto with his Glendale Philharmonic, which was founded at the height of the recession, performing its first concert in 2009, and has managed to thrive. 

“We will have Baroque, we will have Romantic, and also contemporary [music in the program],” he said. Farber’s piece will be bookended by Camille Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals” and Bach’s Concerto for Two Pianos in C minor. 

Biryukov, a noted cellist, says that “Bestemming” has proved a welcome challenge. 

“The solo cello part is very demanding technically,” he said. “I have no doubt many cellists… will consider performing this piece. It’s accessible for the listeners, in spite of the fact that it’s contemporary music.”

For her part, Farber is just hopeful that her composition can live up to Lowens’ story. “I’m hoping that I’m able to convey through music what he went through,” she said. 

Lowens has already approved the narration, and plans to be present for the concert, according to Farber

“I hope that this concerto will talk to the hearts of the people, so that we never forget,” she said. “That not only Jewish people will hear it, but people all over the world, that we will never forget what cruelty is, but also what people can do, the courage when you face such a horrible situation.”

Survey: Dutch favor Arab recognition of Israel as Jewish state

More than two-thirds of respondents to a survey in the Netherlands said Arab countries should recognize Israel as the Jewish state.

Some 68 percent of 4,200 adults polled last month told the leading Dutch polling company Peil.nl they believed that Arab countries “should recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish People,” according to a statement by the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, the Dutch pro-Israel lobby group that commissioned the poll.

But the poll, whose results were published earlier this month, also showed that 23 percent of respondents believe Israel bears most of the blame for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict compared to 15 percent who blame the Palestinians. Forty-three percent of respondents said both parties were equally responsible.

A statement that the Netherlands should be more supportive of Israel than of the Palestinians received the approval of 16 percent of respondents, nearly double the number who backed more backing for the Palestinians.

Thirty-six percent of respondents said neutrality was the best policy for the Netherlands and 33 percent said the Netherlands should support both Israel and the Palestinians equally.

The two-state solution was selected as the preferred resolution of the conflict by 59 percent of respondents, whereas 14 percent of respondents said Palestinians should realize their national ambitions in Arab states. Eight percent said Jews needed to return “to their land of origin.”

Among attitudes toward Jews, 38 percent of respondents said they were positive or very positive and 6 percent said they were negative.  Fifty-two percent said their attitude toward Jews was neutral.

Dutch museum to move, reopen as synagogue

A city in eastern Holland has pledged nearly $750,000 for restoring a museum to its previous function as a synagogue.

The switch will become possible in 2015, when the natural science museum in Nijmegen leaves its current building, the Dutch regional daily De Gelderlander reported Thursday.

Jem van den Burg, the head of a nonprofit called Big Synagogue, a Jewish Future, told the daily that the municipality has agreed to finance his plan to the tune of $734,000.

Den Burg has until 2014 to present a business plan for the construction of a Jewish cultural center and synagogue in the building.

The city council will vote on the plan this year. Alderwoman Hannie Art told De Gelderland she was confident that it would pass.

The building served Nijmegen’s 500-odd Jews from 1913 to 1943, when the Nazis killed almost all of them along with 75 percent of Holland’s pre-Holocaust Jewish population of 140,000. Nijmegen’s few Holocaust survivors could not shoulder the costs of keeping the synagogue operational and the building was sold.

Van den Burg oversees the Jewish cemetery as well as archival research about the Jewish municipality.

Since 2012, three Dutch municipalities, Werkendam, Amsterdam and Vlissingen, have transferred five large properties to Dutch Jewish communities.

Dutch commission calls for freezing ties with Israel

Holland’s ruling party rejected a recommendation by the country’s foreign policy advisory council to negotiate with Hamas and freeze ties with Israel over settlements.

The recommendations on Israel came in nonbinding conclusions listed in a recent report by Holland’s Advisory Council on International Affairs, or AIV, a government agency tasked by Parliament with advising on foreign policy.

Titled “Between Word and Deed, Perspectives for Sustainable Peace in the Middle East,” the 58-page report states, “As long as Israel’s actions in occupied territories do not change,” they should “lead to the freezing and limiting of [Dutch-Israeli] relations, especially in economic and military areas.”

The Netherlands is considered one of Israel’s closest allies in Western Europe.

Coauthored by a nine-man commission of Dutch scholars and Middle East experts, the AIV report says it is “desirable to negotiate with all relevant parties, including (the democratically elected) Hamas movement” and that “the Western boycott of Hamas creates additional complications in peace talks.”

The report’s introduction describes the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians as between “the victims, and the victims’ victims.” The AIV says that “Israel is in fact, within the pre-1967 borders, already a binational state with an Arab minority of roughly 20 percent … The position of Premier [Benjamin] Netanyahu reveals, however, that this is a reality he is not prepared to recognize.”

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans of the Labor Party has declined to comment on the report, but the ruling center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, or VVD Party, called the document “an astonishing combination of wishful thinking and biased, unrealistic recommendations.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said the report “cannot be taken seriously.”

Wim Kortenoeven, a Middle East specialist from The Hague who analyzed the report, said it was “the malicious product of political activism, whose only objective appears to be Israel bashing.”

On Tuesday, Kortenoeven, a former lawmaker and pro-Israel activist, published on his website the first exhaustive analysis of the AIV report, which he says contains factual errors, including a reference to the nonbinding United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 on Israel — which calls on Israel to allow the return of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war — as a binding Security Council resolution.

Timmermans was scheduled to comment on the report before July 5, when Dutch Parliament goes into recess, but has not so far and declined to comment to JTA.

AIV Executive Secretary T.D.J. Oostenbrink declined JTA’s request for a comment on criticisms regarding the report.

Han ten Broeke, a senior lawmaker for the VVD ruling party, said in a statement his party was “astonished”  by the document, which ten Broeke said was “unbalanced and unfair, and makes hard demands from Israel based on international law requirements, which are not applied to the Palestinians.”

He added that the VVD had “criticism on Israel, for example on departures from the Green Line in the route of the Security Barrier,” and the detention of minors for stone throwing, “but we also certainly make demands of the Palestinian Authority.”

In a statement earlier this month, Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, called the report an “error-rich flatbed” that “cannot be taken seriously” and “engenders by logical deduction a whole set of expectedly misled and misguided analytical statements.”

Sports-related incidents spark slight rise in Dutch anti-Semitism

The doubling of sports-related anti-Semitism last year led to the first increase in overall anti-Semitic incidents in three years in the Netherlands.

In its annual monitor report on anti-Semitism, released Thursday, the Hague-based Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, counted 114 cases in 2012 compared to 113 cases the previous year. Thus, “2012 put an end to a two-year decline registered in 2010 and 2011 in the overall number of anti-Semitic incidents,” the Dutch-Jewish watchdog group reported.

Sports-related incidents accounted for 10 percent of the total figure in 2012, compared to less than 5 percent the previous year. Six of the cases documented in 2012 involved violence or physical intimidation compared to four incidents in 2011.

Two people told CIDI they intended to leave the Netherlands because of anti-Semitism, the report also said. Earlier this month, Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said that “even in the city of Amsterdam, anti-Semitism is being justified because of real and perceived injustices in the Middle East.”

Dutch bounty hunters preyed on Jews during Holocaust, study shows

Dozens of Dutchmen preyed on Jews for cash during the Holocaust, according to a new study.

According to the research by Pinchas Bar Efrat, 82, as many as 80 bounty hunters roamed the Netherlands during the German occupation during World War II.

Led by two men, Wim Henneicke and Willem Briede, the bounty hunters were paid by authorities five guilders for every Jew they brought in, the equivalent of a week’s pay for unskilled laborers.

The research by Bar Efrat, a Dutch native who two years ago received his doctorate in philosophy from Hebrew University, showed that authorities raised the bounty to 7.5 and later to 40 guilders toward the end of World War II.

Some of Bar Efrat’s findings were published earlier this month by the Israeli daily Maariv and are based on months of research he conducted at the Dutch national archives in The Hague. The group, known as the Henneicke Column, also extradited Dutchmen who hid Jews from the Nazis, the research showed.

The group extradited thousands of Jews, many of whom were murdered by the Nazis. Bar Efrat’s research added new details about the Henneicke Column to previous studies, including one by Dutch journalist Ad van Liempt.

Wim Henneicke was assassinated by the Dutch resistance in 1944. Briedé was sentenced to death in absentia after he escaped Holland in 1945 and settled in Germany, where he died of natural causes in 1962.

Dutch teens’ praise of Hitler requires research, Jewish group says

A Dutch Jewish group has called on Holland’s government to probe anti-Semitism in the country's high schools following the airing of interviews with immigrant pupils who praised the Holocaust and Jew hatred.

“Anti-Semitic biases seem much more widespread than earlier presumed among children of immigrant families as well as native Dutch pupils,” the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, wrote to Jet Bussemaker, the country’s minister of education, culture and science. “A national survey is required to study the figures and numbers,” CIDI, a local watchdog on anti-Semitism, wrote on Feb. 25.

The letter was in reaction to a television program aired last week on the Nederland 2 television channel. In it, Mehmet Sahin, a researcher of Amsterdam’s Vrije Universiteit, interviews several high school students of Turkish descent.

“The interviewees appear to be partly aware of the Holocaust but approve of the mass murder of Jews,” the Hague-based CIDI wrote.

One of the interviewees said on camera: “I am more than pleased with what Hitler did to the Jews.” Another said: “I hate Jews, period. Nothing you will do will make me change my mind.”

EU boss: Jews exemplify cultural integration

During a visit to the Dutch capital’s Portuguese Synagogue, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said European Jews “exemplify cultural integration.”

Barroso, a former prime minister of his native Portugal who today holds the most powerful position in the European Union, visited the synagogue on Jan. 8.  He also said Jews were “at the front line of the fight against extremism.”

Referring to the completion of an ambitious renovation project which last year won the European Union’s Europa Nostra prize for conservation work, Barrosso said the synagogue was “impressive” and “great to see after the renovation.”

He added: “It is part of the work of keeping alive this great tradition, the Jewish tradition, which is a part of our European Union.”

The Portuguese Synagogue complex has been in use since its inauguration in 1675 by descendants of Jews who fled the Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions in the 15th and 16th century and settled in Amsterdam, known for its religious tolerance.

“For Jews, the Portuguese Synagogue of Amsterdam represents religious freedom, and I think that is part of the importance of President Barroso’s visit here,” Nuno Wahnon Martins, the Lisbon-born director of European Affairs at B'nai B'rith International, told JTA.

Today the red-brick synagogue — whose distinctive arched windows and magnificent interior has earned it the nickname the “pearl of Amsterdam” — is situated at the center of the city’s newly-inaugurated Jewish Quarter. The area, which has seven Jewish institutions including the Jewish Historical Museum, attracted 275,000 visitors in 2012, according to the museum’s director, Joel Cahen.

Dutch TV airs fake Netanyahu speech about targeting Gaza civilians

A Dutch news show has stirred controversy by airing a fake satirical video of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bragging to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about civilian deaths in Gaza.

“We are trying to maximize the number of civilian casualties. We prefer that,” Netanyahu is seen telling Clinton in the video, which the broadcaster Vara aired on Nov. 21, as part of the satirical corner of the prime-time news show De Wereld Draait Door. Approximately 1.5 million viewers watch the show every evening.

The video, made to appear genuine through seamless splicing of sound bites from previous speeches by Netanyahu, was spread by thousands of Twitter and Facebook users who advertised it under the headline “Netanyahu finally tells the truth.”

“We are conducting these surgical operations against schools, mosques, hospitals, children,” Netanyahu is heard saying, adding: “This is something I don’t have to explain to Americans.”

De Telegraaf, the Netherlands’ largest-circulation daily, reported that the video irked Israel’s supporters here. “The video is tasteless but the show’s satirical corner spares no one, so this isn’t about agenda,” said Esther Voet, deputy director of the pro-Israel Center for Information and Documentation on Israel. “The problem is that the clip is humorless and technically a good forgery, so many people don’t understand its satirical nature.”

Timon Dias, a Sri Lanka-born columnist for the Dagelijkse Standard – the Dutch equivalent of the Huffington Post – said the video is “reminiscent of the many blood libels that already exist about Israel and Jews.”

Dutch police nab suspected stabber of French Jew

Dutch police reportedly arrested and extradited to Switzerland a 22-year-old Briton suspected of stabbing a Jewish man in Geneva.

The suspect is a member of extreme right circles, according to CICAD, a Swiss watchdog on anti-Semitism, and was arrested last month in the Netherlands. DNA evidence linked him to the stabbing, according to Johanne Gurfinkel, secretary general of a CICAD, an institution of the Swiss Jewish community.

According to the CICAD website, the suspect was arrested following “a long investigation by the police department of Geneva and an international arrest waarant issued.”

The attack occurred last December in the car park of Geneva’s Natural History Museum as the victim, a haredi Orthodox Jew, was putting a baby carriage in the trunk of his car. His attacker allegedly stabbed him four times in view of the victim’s family.

The victim, a French national from Aix les Bains, some 40 miles from Geneva, sustained serious injuries and was hospitalized for more than a week.

He was visiting friends in Geneva along with his wife and five children, the oldest of whom was 9. The children were in the car and his wife was at the wheel when the man was attacked and stabbed from the back, according to a report on the incident by SPCJ, the security unit of France’s Jewish communities. 

The attacker seemed “particularly determined to kill the victim,” according to SPCJ. The victim, however, managed to hit the attacker in the face and fend him off with the baby carriage. The victim suffered lacerations on his back and face; the knife also penetrated one of the victim’s lungs.

The attacker fled but left some DNA, which the Swiss police collected and filed with the European wanted persons database, leading to his arrest and extradition, Gurfinkel of CICAD told JTA.

Dutch soccer director vows to punish anti-Jewish chanters

The director of a soccer team from the Dutch city of Utrecht has vowed to punish fans who sang anti-Semitic chants during a recent match.

“Racism will not be tolerated in the stadium,” Wilco van Schaik, general director of FC Utrecht, told the Dutch news agency ANP. The report did not specify what steps would be taken against the fans.

The chants were made during in a sing-along led by Danny Temming, a Dutch folk singer, who has distanced himself from the anti-Jewish slogans during the match in Utrecht on Oct. 26.

Temming told the daily AD that he “only began to sing the first lines” during the match, “and then the fans [of Utrecht’s soccer team] started to sing their own texts.”

The match last Friday was between FC Utrecht and FC Groningen.

Teun den Hartog, chairman of FC Utrecht’s fan club, said a flyer instructing fans how to behave was passed out before the match, in an effort to educate fans on refraining from “racist slogans.”

The leading soccer club ADO Den Haag banned eight fans in April from entering the city's soccer stadium for five to 10 years, following protests by the Hague-based watchdog group CIDI and court instructions. The fans were filmed shouting “Hamas, Jews to the gas” during a match with the Amsterdam soccer club Ajax.

Dutch soccer fans often refer to players and supporters of Ajax as “Jews” at matches. Ajax supporters often wave Israeli flags, symbolism that has become associated with the soccer club.

Salmonella outbreak linked to smoked salmon brand sold by Costco

Smoked salmon tainted with salmonella bacteria has sickened hundreds of people in the Netherlands and the United States, sparking a major recall, health authorities said Tuesday.

The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment said the salmon has been traced to Dutch company Foppen, which sells fish to many major Dutch supermarkets and to stores around the world, including the United States.

Read more at MercuryNews.com.

Dutch businessman riles neighbors with new plan for ‘Holocaust-themed’ gate

Neighbors of a Dutch businessman are threatening to sue him if he erects a gate that they say has a Nazi theme.

The television station RTV last week showed footage of the foundation for the gate at the estate of Jack Bakker, a businessman and art collector, and his lawyer confirmed plans to erect a new design of the gate in the municipality of Zandvoort.

Last year the municipality said it would prevent the construction of an early design of the gate following protests by CIDI, the Dutch watchdog on anti-Semitism. The municipality said it would not authorize construction because it violated building regulations.

The early design by the Belgian designer Job Smeets featured two smoking chimneys that function as pillars and barbed wire — an apparent reference to Nazi crematoria — and included a translation of the German writing on the gates of Buchenwald: Jedem das Seine (“to each his own”).

“We thought that, fortunately, it was over but now it again seems like this gate is being built,” Wim Post, a neighbor of Bakker, told the RTV crew. “In a museum, people chose whether to see it, but we are confronted with it and we don’t want it.”

Eefje van Bommel, Bakker’s lawyer, told the Dutch daily that the Buchenwald text never made into the final design.

“The gate is being branded for no reasons,” she said, adding that the municipality’s decision not to authorize the gate violated her client’s rights.

Bakker told the Dutch paper Haarlems Dagblad this month through his lawyer of his plans to build the gate, the Dutch daily reported.

His original  plans became known last year when he hired Smeets to work on the gate.

Yad Vashem to scan documents on Dutch Righteous among the Nations

The government of the Netherlands and Yad Vashem have agreed to digitally archive documents connected to Dutch rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust.

The documents will be scanned by Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust commemoration authority, in the next two years, Yad Vashem deputy spokesperson Yifat Bachrach-Ron told JTA.

Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev and Caspar Veldkamp, the Dutch ambassador to Israel, signed the agreement on starting the process Monday at Yad Vashem.

Yad Vashem has recognized 5,204 Dutch residents as Righteous among the Nations—its title for non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews. It is the highest figure of any Western European nation and second highest in total. Poland tops the list with 6,339 righteous gentiles.

During preparations of documents connected to Dutch recipients of the title, Yad Vashem researchers discovered the last known letter of resistance fighter Hein Sietsma, who along with his fiancee, Berendina (Diet) Eman, helped save dozens of Jews in The Hague before being caught and murdered in the Dachau concentration camp.

Siesma and Eman were recognized as Righteous among the Nations many years ago, but their file contained a small envelope that had not been opened. The envelope contained a letter that Siesma managed to send to his fiancee, folded into a one-centimeter package.

“Even if we never meet each other again on this earth, we will never be sorry for what we did,” the letter read. “We will never regret that we took this stand, and know, Diet, that of every human being in the world, I loved you the most.”

Amsterdam Jewish community warns U.S. Jews of ‘dangerous’ Dutch politician

The chairman of the Jewish Community of Amsterdam asked a Dutch politician to warn U.S. Jews about a “dangerous” rightist Dutch legislator.

Ronnie Eisenman, chairman of the executive board of the Jewish Community of Amsterdam, or NIHS, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that the “Amsterdam Jewish community regards [Dion] Graus as a danger for the interests of Dutch Jewish community.”

Graus, an advocate of a ban on ritual slaughter, is in charge of animal welfare for the Party for Freedom headed by Geert Wilders.

Eisenman said the statement was based on “the content of [Graus’] standpoints and his presentation” in debating ritual slaughter.

The message was “conveyed” to Wim Kortenoeven, another legislator, before Kortenoeven’s visit to to the U.S. earlier this month to meet with Jewish groups, Eisenman said on Twitter.

It is rare for Dutch Jewish community institutions publicly to state their positions on individual politicians or political parties.

In June, the Dutch Senate scrapped a ban on ritual slaughter that the lower house had passed last year. The law, tabled by the small Party for the Animals, had passed the lower house largely due to the support of the Party for Freedom—the country’s third largest.

Last month, the Party for Freedom pledged its commitment to legislating a ban in its platform for elections in September.

The Party for Freedom “was never prepared to go into a discussion with the Jewish community,” Eisenman also said.

In the U.S., Kortenoeven—who recently left the Party for Freedom—met with representatives of key Jewish organizations. He says he warned them about Wilders’ support for a ban on ritual slaughter.

Kortenoeven said he spoke with Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, and met with Orthodox Union representatives and other prominent Jewish American groups.

Dutch lawmaker resigns over party’s stand on banning ritual slaughter

Dutch lawmaker Wim Kortenoeven resigned from his party in protest of its support for banning ritual slaughter, among other issues.

Kortenoeven announced his resignation from the Party for Freedom at a news conference last week in The Hague. Founded in 2005 by Geert Wilders, the party follows an anti-Muslim, pro-Israel policy.

“Regarding ritual slaughter, I came under intense pressure from Wilders to vote against my conscious,” Kortenoeven said.

Last year, the Party for Freedom voted in favor of a bill to ban ritual slaughter in The Netherlands, but Kortenoeven was the only party member to vote against the measure. The bill was enacted, but the Dutch Senate scrapped the ban last month.

Referring to the Party for Freedom’s stated support of individual liberties, Kortenoeven said its stance on ritual slaughter was “inconsistent.” It also backed the government’s cutback in defense spending for Israel.

Wilders’ anti-Muslim rhetoric has become the focus of international attention over the past five years. He regularly visits Israel, which he regards as the West’s “first line of defense” against Islam.

Another lawmaker from the party, Marcial Hernandez, announced his resignation along with Kortenoeven. Complaining about strong party discipline, he said North Korea’s Kim Jong-un “could learn something from Wilders.”

According to the latest polls on elections in September, the Party for Freedom will remain the third largest party with 20 seats in parliament.

Dutch Senate ratifies deal allowing shechitah

The Dutch senate voted to approve a deal to allow ritual slaughter in the Netherlands.

Tuesday’s vote came after leaders of the Jewish and Muslim communities in the Netherland signed off on a compromise with the government.

The agreement signed on June 5 allows ritual slaughter if the animals lose consciousness within 40 seconds of their throats being cut. After that, they must be stunned – rendering them non-kosher and non-Halal.

Representing the Jewish community at the signing was NIK, the Organization of Jewish Communities in The Netherlands – an umbrella group. The organization’s representatives signed the agreement with Dutch Agriculture Minister Hans Bleker.

The European Jewish Congress welcomed the ratification of the agreement.

“This is a momentous agreement and we hope this will serve as a paradigm and precedent for all countries in Europe and the European Union,” Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, said Wednesday.

In December, the leader of the Dutch Animal Rights Party, Marianne Thieme, withdrew a bill that would have required stunning of all animals before slaughter. The measure had passed the lower house of the Dutch parliament in June 2011. A majority of senators had expressed their objection to the ban before its withdrawal.

Dutch law requires animals to be stunned before slaughter but makes an exception for Muslim halal and Jewish shechitah. The Animal Rights Party says that more than 2 million animals are ritually slaughtered each year in the country.

The European Union requires animals to be stunned before slaughter but makes exceptions for religiously mandated ritual slaughter. Nevertheless, ritual slaughter is banned in Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

Tina Strobos, who saved Dutch Jews during the Shoah, dies

Tina Strobos, a medical student in Amsterdam during World War II who helped save more than 100 Jews from the Nazis, has died.

Strobos, who had joined the Dutch resistance and later was recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations, died Feb. 27 at the age of 91.

Strobos and her mother, Marie Schotte, were recognized in 1989 as righteous gentiles for hiding more than 100 Jewish refugees in small groups on the upper floors and in the attic of the family’s home, a boarding house. They provided their Jewish guests with food and medicine and, ultimately, false passports. The home was a 10-minute walk from the home of Anne Frank. 

She was detained and questioned by the Nazis nine times. Strobos also delivered guns, explosives and radios on her bicycle.

Strobos immigrated to the United States in 1951, became a naturalized U.S. citizen and practiced psychiatry in New York until two years ago.

She told the New York Times in a 2009 interview that “It’s just the right thing to do. I believe in heroism, and when you’re young, you want to do dangerous things.”

Dutch withdraw bill banning ritual slaughter

A bill to ban ritual slaughter was withdrawn by the Dutch Senate days before a scheduled vote.

Animal Rights Party leader Marianne Thieme withdrew the bill late Tuesday after a majority of senators expressed their objection to the ban on kosher slaughter, or shechitah. The measure had passed the lower house of the Dutch parliament in June.

The bill had required that animals be stunned before slaughter. Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter must be performed with the animal fully conscious.

A slaughterhouse that could prove the animal did not suffer more pain than when stunned would have been exempted from the prohibition.

Under a compromise presented by Agriculture Minister Henk Bleker, an agreement could be made with Jewish and Muslim slaughterhouses regarding the length of time that an animal is conscious before dying and the number of animals to be ritually slaughtered.

European Jewish Congress President Dr. Moshe Kantor praised the suggestion of a compromise.

“This compromise is befitting Holland’s long history of freedom of religion and specifically, tolerance towards its Jewish community,” Kantor said in a statement. “While the details have to be worked out, we hope the spirit of the compromise will be embraced by all sides of the debate.”

The European Jewish Congress, along with the Dutch Jewish Community and Shechita UK, led a campaign against the proposed ban. The campaign has included presenting the case to leading Dutch politicians and ensuring that the Jewish voice was heard in the public arena.

The European Union requires animals to be stunned before slaughter but makes exceptions for religiously mandated ritual slaughter. Nevertheless, ritual slaughter is banned in Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

Discourage male circumcision, Dutch doctors urge

A Dutch medical association has called on politicians and human rights groups to discourage male circumcision.

The Royal Dutch Medical Association last week appealed to politicians to speak out about the procedure, called a brit milah in Hebrew, in an attempt to encourage religious groups to find an alternative rite of passage, Reuters reported.

The association represents surgeons, pediatricians, general practitioners and urologists. One year ago, the association released a report against male circumcision for non-medical reasons.

Female circumcision, also called female genital mutation, has been banned in the Netherlands since 1993.

Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, president of the Dutch Association of Rabbis, told Reuters that about 50 male Jewish babies are circumcised in the Netherlands each year.
Jewish boys traditionally are circumcised at eight days of age and Muslims at some time during boyhood.

There are about 40,000 Jews and 1 million Muslims living in the Netherlands.

In Dutch shechitah ban, Jews see a sign they are unwanted

A few streets over from the bookstore where Anne Frank bought her famous diary, the only kosher butcher shop in Holland is bustling. Two employees man the long counter at Slagerij Marcus, pausing from chopping meat to sell customers a bit of this or that for Shabbat dinner.

In the wake of an overwhelming vote by the Dutch House of Representatives to ban the type of ritual slaughter required for kosher and halal meat, this butcher shop famous for its handmade sausage is at the front lines of a battle between two competing ideals in Holland: freedom of religion and animal welfare.

What put shechitah, or kosher slaughter, in the crosshairs was an unlikely convergence between animal rights activists and Holland’s far-right, anti-Muslim movement.

The Party for the Animals is interested in banning all forms of what it considers inhumane slaughter, while the Freedom Party led by firebrand Geert Wilders is interested in making Holland inhospitable to Muslims. For Wilders, who in 2009 called Islam “the ideology of a retarded culture,” the impact on shechitah is collateral damage.

“It’s a shift from the Netherlands as an open society to the Netherlands as a closed, monocultural society,” said Joel Erwteman, a Jewish lawyer who helped Dutch Jewish leaders draft a position paper opposing the slaughter bill. “It’s becoming completely normal to talk about Muslims as being a problem.”

Kosher slaughter seems secure for now—the Parliament is on recess until September, and approval by the Dutch Senate, a key step for the measure to become law, is no guarantee.

If the ban does pass, Jewish leaders plan to challenge it in court, arguing that the guarantee of freedom of religion enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights precludes banning shechitah. The law also could be amended to make an exception for kosher slaughter if it can be proven that no additional harm is caused to animals by killing them the kosher way.

And if that fails, Dutch Jews easily could procure kosher meat by importing it legally from nearby countries.

But for many Jews in the country, the most disconcerting element of the drive to outlaw shechitah isn’t so much the legality of kosher slaughter per se but the symbolism of Holland’s move to outlaw a basic element of Jewish life. It’s a sign, some say, that after 400 years of a Jewish presence in the Netherlands, the traditions of the country’s approximately 40,000 Jews count for little.

“Do I want to be in a society that acts like this?” Erwteman said. “I don’t think many of us are feeling very welcome right now.”

Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, president of the Dutch union of rabbis and chief rabbi of the country’s Inter-Provincial Chief Rabbinate, said the proposed law reflects the growing feeling in Dutch society that religion is something to be feared, or at least kept at arms’ length.

“They put it on the level of fairy tales,” he said of religion, while elevating animal rights to an article of faith. “They can be so fanatic that they care more about the animals than they do about the feelings of the people.”

Jacobs, who says that some 500 Dutch Jewish families keep kosher, worries that the shechitah ban is the first step on the road to an eventual prohibition against circumcision. He noted that the prospect of a ban is especially disturbing for Holocaust survivors because the Nazis imposed a ban on shechitah as one of their first acts after invading the Netherlands in 1940.

Esther Voet, editor of a Dutch Jewish newsweekly called Nieuw Israelietisch Weekblad, said playing the Holocaust card to criticize the legislation has not endeared the Dutch Jewish community to lawmakers in The Hague, the more conservative city about 45 minutes south of Amsterdam that is the seat of Dutch government.

“We damaged ourselves with that,” she said. “That’s an emotional response. You should lead this discussion from reason.”

Voet said opposition to the bill would have been stronger had the community’s liberal and Orthodox factions unified more quickly in opposition.

Still, the Jewish community did bring out the big guns to stop the legislation.

Britain’s chief rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, addressed the Dutch Parliament on June 16, and Cornell University food science professor Joe Regenstein wrote a report rebuking the opposition’s claims that kosher slaughter causes undue suffering to animals.

The Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, Simon Wiesenthal Center, World Jewish Congress, B’nai B’rith International and the Kosher Certification Service jointly sent a letter to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte saying that the bill would “cause unacceptable harm to the religious freedom of the Dutch Jewish community.”

Among the 30 parliamentarians who voted against the bill were several non-Jewish members of religious political parties. One of them, Esme Wiegman of the Christian Union Party, visited the kosher slaughterhouse to see for herself how the animals are killed.

Wiegman told JTA that Dutch politicians who are not religious have a difficult time grasping the centrality of religious rituals to the lives of the devout. She said the move to outlaw shechitah was a matter of religious freedom for all, not just for Jews.

“It isn’t a problem of a few people,” she said. “It’s a question for all of us.”

There are several kosher stores in the leafy Amsterdam neighborhood of Buitenveldert, near the city’s world trade center and cluster of skyscrapers.

Daniel Bar-on, the 22-year-old who owns the kosher meat restaurant H’ Bar-on, said he is prepared to do whatever is necessary to continue providing his customers with a diverse set of kosher options. The ritual slaughter bill, he said, caught him by surprise.

“We’ve been doing it for so many years, and no one’s ever had a problem with it, and suddenly all Holland wants to get rid of it,” he said. “I never thought it would ever get this far.”

The initiative against shechitah was the brainchild of the fledgling Party for the Animals, which holds just two seats in the 150-seat Dutch House and one in the 75-seat Senate. The far-left party argues that stunning an animal is more humane than the razor-sharp knife used in kosher slaughter. A representative told JTA that the party’s leader, Marianne Thieme, was unavailable for comment due to the legislative recess.

The animal rights party framed the debate as a stark choice between the mutually exclusive goals of religious freedom and animal welfare, Erwteman said.

“Do you think that an animal should suffer more because of the religion of the person who killed it? That’s the way they phrased it,” he said. “I think most of the parties felt compelled to answer that question with no.”

About 500 million animals are slaughtered in the Netherlands each year. Of that number, about 3,000 are slaughtered according to the laws of kashrut and about 1 million are slaughtered according to the laws of halal. Both styles of slaughter would be banned under the proposed law.

Holland is not the first European country to consider banning shechitah. Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg and Switzerland already ban kosher slaughter, though they all allow the import of kosher meat.

The question now is whether Holland will join that club.

Opinion: Dutch must find compromise on ritual slaughter ban

The Jewish community in Holland has its roots in those who fled persecution and discrimination to a land that has become acclaimed for its freedom of religion and expression.

This freedom may be eroding, however, as a central component of Jewish life may be outlawed in the very near future.

The Dutch Parliament passed a bill last week that proscribes religious animal slaughter without prior sedation. If the Senate votes to ratify the measure, the effects on the centuries-old Jewish life in Holland and Europe will be incalculable.

In practice, it would mean an end to Jewish ritual slaughter, shechitah, in direct opposition to Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, namely the right to freedom of religion.

This convention, drafted in 1950 following the nearly fulfilled Nazi attempt to destroy European Jewry, was meant to prevent future atrocities and human rights violations. One of the first enactments of the Nazis against the Jews of Europe was to proscribe shechitah.

Following the Holocaust, which wiped out nearly three-quarters of Dutch Jewry, Europe ruled that religious minorities should feel safe and free to practice their way of life unfettered and unhindered within Europe’s borders. This decree determined that freedom of religion can only be restricted when practices compromise other laws.

The proposed Dutch legislation is based on the flawed premise that shechitah causes additional, unnecessary pain to the animal than stunned slaughter. There is no scientific evidence to merit this conclusion. In fact, a study conducted at Wageningen University in Holland proved the opposite—that shechitah is more animal friendly than many other types of slaughter.

Professors and researchers from Europe, the United States and elsewhere concur and have demonstrated this in various studies. In the United States and Canada, the humaneness of shechitah is acknowledged in the Humane Methods of Animal Slaughter Legislation.

The debate surrounding the legislation is being conducted as if sedating an animal is an ideal, stress-free process without any expert reference to how much stress is caused to animals by sedation procedures as opposed to the stress of kosher slaughter without sedation.

The Jewish slaughterer must undergo extremely rigorous training that entails an expert slaughter with minimum pain for the animal. Good treatment of animals is an ancient guiding principle in Jewish law and tradition, and everything surrounding this principle is adhered to during the slaughter.

It is incumbent on Dutch legislators in the Senate to find a compromise that will allow shechitah to continue, in accordance with the freedom of religion, while attending to the important needs and requirements of animal welfare. If a compromise is not found and this bill becomes law, it could result in a dangerous domino effect that could spread to other parts of Europe.

If more nations in Europe, or the European Union itself, proscribe shechitah, it will further compromise a Jewish community already suffering from growing anti-Semitism and discrimination.

The Jews of Europe have endured millennia of slavery, expulsions, inquisitions and attempted genocides, but a ban on a central tenet of Jewish life, even if well meaning, could well spell disaster for the Jewish community.

If the oldest minority community in Europe is shaken in such a way, it would bode extremely poorly for other minorities, some not yet acclimatized to the European way of life.

Nothing less than the integral fabric of European life could be compromised if religious or national traditions that do not compromise other laws are proscribed. As Europe projects itself as a post-conflict continent that seeks to integrate vastly different histories and customs into a single union, it is incumbent that differences are embraced, not compromised.

If The Netherlands, with its reputation as a tolerant and open society, circumscribes a major facet of religious life, then surely we are on a downward spiral of intolerance and narrow-mindedness.

It was once said that “Compromise, if not the spice of life, is its solidity. It is what makes nations great.”

Holland has always been a great nation, especially for the Jewish people who traveled to its borders seeking sanctuary. It is vital that Dutch legislators seek a compromise before it is too late and the die is cast.

(Dr. Moshe Kantor is president of the European Jewish Congress.)

European groups slam Dutch shechitah ban

European Jewish groups slammed a decision by the lower house of the Dutch parliament to ban the ritual slaughter of animals.

The Conference of European Rabbis President Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt called the ban an outrage that would prevent Jews from living a Jewish life in The Netherlands.

“We have passed the stage of arguing the nuances of intention of anti-Semitism. The practical effects of this bill mean that Jews are no longer welcome in The Netherlands. This has not happened for 70 years,” Goldschmidt said.

Under the bill passed Tuesday, animals are required to be stunned before slaughter. Both Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter must be performed while the animal is fully conscious.

“The Netherlands has thrown away centuries of liberalism, human rights, welcome and tolerance for Jews,” Goldschmidt said. “We will not rest until this discriminatory, intolerant and hateful bill is thrown out.”

The upper house still must approve the measure, which is being protested by Holland’s Jewish and Muslim communities as an attack on their religious freedom. Some 40,000 Jews and about 1 million Muslims live in the country.

European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor said in a statement issued Tuesday that his organization could take legal action to prevent the ban, pointing out   that it violates Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to freedom of religion

“We cannot let such a blatantly discriminatory law stand without fighting it, especially as it stands contrary to European standards and freedoms,” Kantor said,

“This is a dark day for the Jewish community,” he added. “This could serve as a terrible precedent for other parts of Europe and tells the Jews that they and their customs are no longer welcome.”

The Anti-Defamation League also condemned the Dutch vote.

“Dutch Jews must not be put to the choice of violating a central tenet of Judaism, foregoing fresh meat, or emigrating.  We call upon the Dutch Senate to prevent this action from leading to a clear violation of religious freedom that has a disproportionate impact on the Jewish community,” said Abraham Foxman, ADL national director.

The bill was put forward by the Animal Rights Party, which claims that stunning before slaughter causes less pain to the animal.

The Jewish and Muslim communities have a year to prove otherwise or the law goes into effect.

The European Union requires animals to be stunned before slaughter, but makes exceptions for religiously mandated ritual slaughter. Nevertheless, ritual slaughter is banned in Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

Dutch lawmakers offer compromise on kosher slaughter ban

The Dutch Parliament has offered a compromise on a bill that would ban kosher slaughter.

Under the compromise hammered out June 22, ritual slaughter will not be included in a bill that would ban the slaughter of animals in the Netherlands without first stunning them if it can be proved that the ritual method of slaughter does not cause additional suffering.

Under the laws of shechitah, or Jewish ritual slaughter, animals may not be rendered unconscious before slaughter. Muslim law has a similar proscription.

The compromise means that the Jewish and Muslim communities can “go and investigate what is possible instead of just telling them what they can’t do,” lawmaker Stientje van Veldhoven of the centrist D66 party said.

The Jewish community has rejected this line of reasoning, saying the ban and the new amendment demonstrate a lack of religious freedom for Dutch Jews. As many as 50,000 Jews and approximately 1 million Muslims are living in the Netherlands, according to reports.

The Dutch parliament will vote on the proposed ban, with the amendment, next week. If the legislation passes, it would make Holland the first European Union country to ban shechitah.

Shechitah is permissible under European law and to ban it goes against the E.U. Charter of Fundamental Rights, which clearly states that there is freedom of religious practice.

A controversial ban on kosher slaughter put in place by New Zealand’s agriculture minister was partially reversed last November amid allegations that the decision was taken to appease Muslim countries that have lucrative trade relations with New Zealand. The ban on kosher slaughter of poultry was suspended; the ban on beef remains.

Proposed Dutch ban on ritual slaughter is unfair, ill advised

Animal rights or Jewish rites? That is the question this week before the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament, as it considers a bill that effectively would prohibit shechitah, the Jewish ritual slaughter of animals.

According to the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, in 1674 the first Ashkenazi Jew who settled in The Hague was a kosher butcher. Well over three centuries later the Dutch parliament, seated in The Hague, may soon send all the kosher butchers packing.

The minuscule Party for the Animals has introduced a bill to ban animal slaughter without prior stunning. While the proposal is in the spirit of defending animal rights and does not represent any anti-Jewish intent, the brunt would be borne by the Dutch Jewish community of nearly 50,000 people.

Such an unjust result should not surprise anyone, since the premise of the bill itself is unjust. Jewish law commands humane treatment of animals, and several scientific studies have shown that shechitah is indeed humane. According to a 2004 peer-reviewed paper, “Physiological Insights Into Shechita,” by Dr. Stuart Rosen of Imperial College in London, “shechitah is a painless and humane method of animal slaughter.”

Given the general use of stunning in non-ritual slaughter in the Netherlands and the wide acceptance of anesthetic stunning as permissible for Muslim ritual slaughter, the proposed law would be a de facto ban only on Jewish ritual slaughter, which does not allow for stunning under any condition.

The Party for the Animals says that “The European Court of Human Rights has determined that forbidding unanaesthetised ritual slaughter does not contravene the right to freedom of religion.” This argument oversimplifies the specific issues and narrow applicability of the Cha’are Shalom Ve Tsedek v. France case, which concerned the demand of a haredi Orthodox Jewish group for a shechitah facility separate from the existing facility in France under the supervision of the chief rabbi of France when the possibility existed of importing meat from a slaughterhouse of the same haredi Orthodox group in Belgium.

In other words, the party claims that banning shechitah in the Netherlands would not infringe on religious freedom if kosher meat can be imported from Belgium.

This line of reasoning leads to two obvious and disturbing questions that Dutch parliamentarians should ask themselves: May we indirectly discriminate against Dutch Jews as long as Belgium does not do the same? How available would fresh kosher meat be to Dutch Jews if all European countries were to adopt the position that it could be imported from a neighboring country?

It is a safe assumption that approval in the Netherlands would encourage animal rights activists to promote similar measures in other European parliaments. The potential for a domino effect should not be underestimated. According to a Belgian animal rights group, a 2006 poll showed that 72 percent of Belgians supported a ban on ritual slaughter without prior stunning.

Switzerland provides a vivid example of the power of European animal rights groups. In 2002, the Swiss government tried to do the right thing and remove the ban on shechitah that had been in place since 1893. The reaction of animal rights groups was fast and furious. They launched a campaign to ban even the import of kosher meat (using the same popular referendum process that in 2010 led to a constitutional ban on the construction of minarets in Switzerland.)

Faced with increasing popular support for the anti-import campaign, the Swiss Jewish community itself urged the government to back off and settle for a reaffirmation of the status quo. They rightly feared ending up with no kosher meat at all.

Aside from the potential practical consequences, the Dutch bill’s adoption would indirectly, but indisputably, convey a message of intolerance for traditional Judaism and for those who observe Jewish dietary laws. Dutch Jews, regardless of their observance of dietary laws, would be made to feel as second-class citizens.

In the 1581 Act of Abjuration, the Dutch declared independence from Spain, demanding “some degree of liberty, particularly relating to religion.” The practice of religious tolerance made the Netherlands a magnet for oppressed Jews from elsewhere in Europe.

Members of today’s Dutch parliament should be guided by their founding fathers’ championing of religious freedom, the Dutch tradition of religious tolerance and a commitment not to forsake that first kosher butcher who came to The Hague.

(Abraham H. Foxman is national director of the Anti-Defamation League and the author most recently of “Jews & Money: The Story of a Stereotype.”)

Dutch soccer player rues anti-Semitic chants

A Dutch soccer player apologized for chanting anti-Semitic slogans caught on camera following a victory over a team with traditional Jewish support.

Lex Immers of the Dutch ADO Den Haag team apologized Monday in a statement on the team’s website for the remarks made in a bar with team fans.

Immers was caught on camera chanting “we’re going to hunt for Jews,” referring to the fans of the opposing team, Ajax, which is identified with Amsterdam’s Jewish community.

“I got carried away in the euphoria of a special win and at that moment was unaware of the offensive tone to an entire nation,” Immers said in a statement. “I regret it and will accept the penalty imposed on me.

“When I sing ‘We’re going to hunt for Jews,’ I mean that we want to beat Ajax. Nothing more, nothing less. The slogan ‘We’re going to hunt for Jews’ seemed innocent,” he also said in an interview in Voetbal International.

The team is investigating the incident and told ESPN that Immers would receive the maximum fine.