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  • Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs | Photo: Marte Visser
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‘The Morning’ Reminds Me of Yesterday

Binyomin Jacobs - 1 August 2019

It is summertime and many people are off relaxing and enjoying their vacations…but I feel uncomfortable and unsettled. De Morgen [The Morning], a Belgian newspaper, recently published a vulgar, purely anti-Semitic article. The existence of anti-Semitism is nothing new, but it worries me that anti-Semitic sentiments are being published with increasing frequency and that anti-Semitism has become commonplace again. In the article in De Morgen the author claims that Jews stole the land of Palestine and threw the Palestinians out, for no other reason than that Moses apparently ordered them to do so. He also says that 2.3 million Palestinians are dependent on emergency aid and that over 1 million are malnourished. According to him thousands of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli bullets. The author furthermore states: “being Jewish is no religion: there is no God who would give His creatures such an ugly nose.”
(Go to the Dutch article)

I am also bothered by yet another entry in the long list of UN condemnations of Israel. Israel has been condemned for being the cause of discrimination against women among Palestinians. Yes, you read that correctly: Women are apparently second-class citizens in Palestinian society, so Israel is to blame. My own country of the Netherlands agreed to this and applauded when the resolution was accepted.

It reminds me of 1976. An Air France aircraft was hijacked by the PLO. The plane changed course and landed in Entebbe, Uganda, where a psychopath was president. I will spare you the long version of the story – google it if you have forgotten what happened and you can read all the details. From Israel, Israel freed all of the passengers. The rescue operation was a miracle, almost unbelievable. Many of you will remember the “Raid on Entebbe” but what almost everyone has forgotten is the reaction from the UN, the United Nations. They did not condemn the PLO for hijacking an airplane and holding the innocent passengers hostage but Israel was condemned “for violating foreign airspace”…

The Netherlands and other countries kept silent and accepted this anti-Israel resolution too, just like so many other resolutions before and after. What’s more, even before the UN resolution saw the light of day, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Socialist leader condemned the Israeli operation on behalf of the Netherlands!

I thought that the myth of “the cruel Old Testament ‘eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth’” was no longer preached in Christian churches. Unfortunately I came up against it again recently. It was not meant as anti-Semitism but was communicated publically. When I politely requested dialogue, I was ignored.

A student of mine, a survivor of 1940-1945, recently confided that he is still plagued by one particular (possibly well-meant) comment. He was six years old and was separated from his parents and brought to the house of strangers to go into hiding. This little boy was and still is thankful to his foster parents who unselfishly saved his life without any compensation but that one comment has stuck with him all his life. A few days after he had arrived, his foster mother explained to him that he, a six year-old boy, was being punished [through the circumstances] because his parents/forefathers had murdered Jesus. “But”, she added, “We bring love and mercy to the world, so we won’t hand you over to the Germans…”

The little kid slowly but surely became angry at his own parents. Why had they committed the murder? Now he was suffering because of it. That little boy is now an old man. He is exceptionally intelligent and has achieved a high rank in the scientific community. He is still whole-heartedly grateful to his foster parents but at the same time he is deeply scarred, all because of that one comment.

Dear reader, my column is muddled. I have many true friends in the non-Jewish world and especially in the Christian world, but anti-Semitism is growing in leaps and bounds.  The article in De Morgen [The Morning] reminds me of yesterday, of the ‘thirties, and unfortunately also reminds me of the present, of today. I am deeply worried and I do not know if my concern will be understood.

 

Binyomin Jacobs, Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands

July 2019

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