Translation from De Fabel van de illegaal 52/53, summer 2002
Authors: Eric Krebbers and Jan Tas
On April 13 2002 an estimated 15.000 people joined a demonstration against Israel in Amsterdam. The demonstration was very anti-Semitic in character, and occurred at a time when anti-Semitism is on the increase throughout Europe.
When the demonstration reached the Dam, a central square in Amsterdam, the protestors suddenly started shouting: "A Jew, there's a Jew!" En masse people ran towards the man with a jewish religieus cap who happened to be passing by. They grabbed him, and threw him to the ground. "I hid my head in my arms and was helpless", he said later. "They kept hitting my side, my stomach, and kicked my legs from all sides. And they kept shouting. Hysterically. I thought they would beat me to death. Many onlookers did nothing, though they must of seen it. The riot police did nothing either." He was saved by two Jewish boys, who dragged him into the Krasnapolsky hotel amidst a hail of stones, bottles and even bicycles. After that, the demonstrators attempted to storm the hotel and hurled bricks through the windows.
This was the end of the biggest demonstration in the Netherlands since the 1997 European Summit. Since then, the Left has only ever managed to mobilize a few hundred people at a time. However, in the case of the demonstration against Israel, thousands of people suddenly appeared, and not all of them from the Left. Activists and organizations who under normal circumstances hate each other were now protesting shoulder to shoulder. The Grey wolves, the PKK and the DHKP-C from Turkey, for example. As ever, the hatred of the Jews was able to unite the extremes of the political spectrum.
There were a few hundred instances of anti-Semitism throughout the entire demonstration. Thousands enthusiastically chanted anti-Semitic slogans. "Sieg Heil", for example and "Hitler Hitler". Anti-Semitic heroes were also celebrated, including Bin Laden and Sadam Hussein. Some were wearing Bin Laden T shirts, whilst anti-Semitic organizations were also popular. "Hamas, Hezbollah, Jihad" and "Hamas, Hamas, All the Jews must be gassed" were popular slogans. And there was a placard: "Hitler forgot one: Sharon", whilst in the old anti-Semitic tradition Sharon was repeatedly depicted as a child- and baby murderer.
There were uncountable comparisons between Nazi Germany and Israel. Some examples are pictures of Hitler patting Sharon on the back or Sharon with a Hitler moustache, "Hitler has a son: SSharon", "Stop Adolf Sharon", "Boycot ISSrael, boycott SSharon", and "Israel Nazi State". All possible combinations of swastika's and the star of David were present: some times with a "=" or even a "<" between them. In total we counted over 75 swastika's. "Jews are Nazi's" was also a slogan. Repeatedly Israel was blamed for a "new Shoah": "Stop the Palestinian Holocaust", "Jenin 2002 = Warsaw 1943", "Auschwitz, Srebrenica, Gaza" and "Anne Frank lives in Gaza now".
Not just Israel, but all Jews came under fire. "Jews into the sea", "Jews are dogs", "Juden raus", "Sharon terrorist, down with the Jews" and "I will become an anti-Semite, how about you?" Many sung an Arabic text, reiterating a promise by the prophet Mohammed for the mass murder of Jews. Meanwhile, Jews were denied an own state on placards depicting maps of the Middle East with Israel wiped off. "Jews out", some cried, "Palestine for the Palestinians, Sharon back to Poland".
Repeated calls were made on Allah, and the US and Israel were associated with Satan. "Israel = realm of evil", according to one sign. There was admiration for the suicide bombers, expressed in slogans such as: "With blood and soul we sacrifice ourselves for our country". There were demonstrators with toy guns and even one with fake explosives strapped to his waist. The firebomb that was thrown at the iT nightclub and the chants "Gays, gays" that went up, were not so much anti-Semitic, as typical of fundamentalist groups. Also a number of gay bars were thrashed.
Since the beginning of April, Jews have increasingly been confronted with anti-Semitism on the street. Some speak of physical and verbal attacks. One man was told: "Jews, they should be killed", another was faced with a Hitler greeting and the words, "Sharon Hamas". One man was stopped in the park and asked: "Are you Jewish? I am a friend of Hitler", whilst someone else added: "All Jews belong behind barbed wire". A young Jewish boy who asked someone where his brother was, was told: "Your brother is in a gas chamber". Phrases such as "bloody Jews" and "Hamas, Hamas, all the Jews must be gassed" have become very common. One football team in Amsterdam was recently suspended for such verbal abuse and for making the Nazi salute.
Since September 11 2001, the number of anti-Semitic crimes across Europe has been on the rise. From the beginning of April 2002, things have gotten steadily worse. In France, 360 anti-Semitic attacks were counted in the first half of April alone. But England, Germany, Belgium, Italy and The Netherlands also prove to be breeding grounds for anti-Semitism. A quick tour passed the European newspapers proves the point: since the beginning of April, at least 15 cases of arson or other attack have been reported in synagogues, dozens of Jewish cemeteries and monuments, two Jewish schools, a Jewish butcher, a sport club, a book shop, a community center, and a school bus with children in it. A number of buildings burned down completely. Cars belonging to Jews were set on fire, Jewish people were beaten up on the streets and anti-Semitic slogans appeared in many places.