The Public Prosecutor’s Office in the Netherlands is investigating whether to prosecute anti-Israeli protestors who used hate speech in expressing their anger toward the situation in Gaza. During the demonstrations, several people shouted out: “Hamas, Hams, Jews should be gassed.” Newly elected mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, who is Muslim, said he would not allow such use of anti-semitic slogans during protests. Minister of Justice Ernst Hirsch Ballin made clear: “Freedom of speech has a high value in our legal system, however, freedom of speech has its limits and therefore the public prosecutor will investigate any situations in which speech, expressions have clearly offensive meaning.”
The Dutch government has made clear its opposition to Hamas and its rocket attacks. Many members of the 800,000 strong Muslim community in Holland are not only upset at the Israel attack, but on the refusal of their government to take a strong stand against the killing of civilians. The issue that emerges from what is happening in the Netherlands is whether being Jewish means a Dutch citizen is somehow responsible for what happens in Israel. Farid Azarkan who heads an umbrella organization of Muslim people of Moroccan descent, anti-Semitic statements are not appropriate at demonstrations against Israel policies in Gaza.
At present, a fan at a soccer game who shouts out anti-black or anti-Muslim statements faces prosecution. Does the same principle apply to those shouting anti-Semitic remarks in public? A central question is whether a Dutch citizen who adheres to the Jewish religion is somehow responsible for what happens in Israel. There is a tendency among many Muslims to assume anyone who is Jewish is therefore connected to the Israel government and its policies.