Thursday 29 September 2022

Government adopts controversial definition of ‘anti-semitism’

Davidster (star of David) monument in The Hague

The Davidster monument by Dick Stins, in The Hague’s Marktstraat

A majority of MPs supported a motion on Tuesday for the Dutch government to adopt the specific definition of anti-semitism formulated by the International Holocaust Alliance (IHRA).

‘Countries have to be in agreement about what exactly constitutes anti-semitism so we can do more to register instances of it,’ Kees van der Staaij, leader of the fundamentalist Christian party, told broadcaster NOS.

The European Parliament called on all member states to adopt the IHRA definition in 2017.

Three of the four government parties – VVD, CDA, ChristenUnie – supported the motion, alongside opposition parties PVV, 50Plus and Forum voor de Democratie.

The ruling Liberal democratic party D66, the SP, PvdA, Partij voor de Dieren, GroenLinks and Denk voted against because, they say, the definition does not distinguish clearly between anti-semitism and criticism of the Israeli government.

Jewish organisation Een Ander Joods Geluid supports that claim as do a number of Israeli academics, NOS said.

‘Anything that is even close to anti-semitism is abhorrent,’ D66 MP Sjoerd Sjoerdsma told NOS. ‘But criticism of the Israeli government cannot be put in the same category.’

Van der Staaij says that general criticism of Israeli policy often contains stereotypes about Jewish people. ‘In that case criticism of the Israeli government can be called anti-semitic,’ he said.

Jewish organisation Cidi commented that criticism of the Israeli government is not ‘criminalised’ in the definition. ‘The IHRA definition helps distinguish between criticism on Israel on the one hand and reproducing classic conspiracy theories and prejudices against Jews – which is anti-semitic,’ it says on its website.

A recent survey by Cidi showed that nearly half of the respondents felt it was unsafe to identify as being Jewish in public.

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