Saturday 15 August 2020

Lack of criticism of Israel may have boomerang effect

‘There is an almost collective inability on the part of most Jewish institutions and organisations in the Netherlands to distance themselves from the behaviour of the state of Israel when it is waging another war on false pretences,’ writes Jaap Hamburger.







‘Like Rosa van der Wieken (in a letter to the editor of the Volkskrant on July 23) I am afraid, only we don’t share the same fears,’ Van der Wieken writes in the same newspaper. He feels ‘afraid, desperate and alone’ because some are openly ‘announcing death to the Jews’.

‘I am desperate – and furious – that for the third time in six years Israel is spreading large-scale death and destruction in Gaza and that many Jews in the Netherlands feel called upon to yet again justify and condone this, prompted by the trustworthy Israeli government office spokespeople and their faithful Dutch right hand CIDI.

‘I feel alone because of the almost collective inability of most Jewish institutions and organisations in this country to distance themselves from the behaviour of the state of Israel when it is waging another war on false pretences.

‘I am worried about people like Rosa van der Wieken who keep defending Israel time and again by trotting out the worn clichés of yesterday and the day before.

‘I have long been afraid of the insular attitudes and the moral priorities of Jewish institutions which rally every time they feel that traditions such as circumcision and ritual slaughter are under threat – which is their right – but in whose moral universe words like ‘Palestine’ and ‘occupation’ hardly ever figure because using them would betray the long-distance love of their lives: Israel.

‘I fear this lack of criticism towards Israel will have a boomerang effect. I’m afraid of this form of identification while at the same time others, Muslims in particular, are told in no uncertain terms to be very mindful indeed of the difference between ‘Jews’ and ‘the state of Israel’. The Jewish institutions’ response to this is woefully inadequate.

‘And I have a feeling that the increasing anti-semitism is the best ally of some people in the Jewish community who without it would suffer an identity crisis.

Der Feind macht uns zum Volk’ (the enemy makes us a people, DN) Theordor Herzl wrote long ago and it seems as if some still adhere to this statement dating from the days of the pogroms. A yarmulke torn from someone’s head, placards with a Hitler moustache and three ISIS flags in a “pro-Palestine” demonstration are disgusting and in no way “pro-Palestine”, but those who are saying this is what led to Auschwitz don’t have a clue or are wilfully misconstruing things.

‘And finally I am afraid, and have been for years, that the Jewish mistrust of the outside world, no matter how understandable, and the adulation of Israel will one day become a self-fulfilling prophesy; that chants like “death to the Jews” will sound again and that Jews will say: “We told you so. Gojim are never to be trusted.” That’s what’s keeping me awake at night.’

Jaap Hamburger is chairman of Een Ander Joods Geluid (A Dissenting Jewish Voice)

This article appeared earlier in the Volkskrant










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