Two Feyenoord supporters who left anti-semitic graffiti on a wall in Rotterdam-Crooswijk have been sentenced to 60 hours of community service for insulting a group or, alternatively, a visit to the National Holocaust Names Memorial in Amsterdam.
The graffiti showed player Steven Berghuis with a hook nose, dressed in striped concentration camp garb and wearing a yellow star badge and a yarmulke cap. The accompanying text said ‘Jews always run’.
Former Feyenoord player Berghuis had just signed with Ajax at the time. The player also received death threats.
The Rotterdam judge branded the two fans as ‘insentive’ because they had been joking about the effects of their act on Whatsapp. ‘You have no idea what this means to people who survived the Holocaust and the people who lost relatives. This reverberates for generations,’ regional broadcaster Rijnmond quoted the judge as saying.
While 60 hours of community service would be a fitting punishment, the judge said a visit to the memorial with a member of staff from the Israel Information Centre CIDI or the Rotterdam Liberal Jewish Community would perhaps be more effective. ‘You will make a report of the visit, with photos,’ the judge told them.
The two men said they do not yet know it they will accept the verdict or appeal. They claim the antisemitic elements in the cartoon were added by others and that their only goal had been to make a cartoon of Berhuis ‘just with a hook nose’.
Member of the Rotterdam Liberal Jewish Community Leopold Hertzberger said his organisation would be willing to help carry out the judge’s sentence. ‘We have people who can tell the story. We hope to be able to increase the awareness of the damage anti-semitism does,’ Hertzberger said.
The punishment is a ‘creative, realistic and wise’ one, Hertzberger added. ‘It’s better than 60 hours of digging in a park. This type of educational punishments should be encouraged,’ he said.
The Rotterdam Jewish Liberal Community and CIDI reported the cartoon to police at the time. ‘The judge’s decision shows it is worth reporting anti-semitism, despite what people sometimes think,’ Hertzberger said.
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