Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Dutch Jews want fast punishment for anti-Semitism 

Jewish groups in the Netherlands called Wednesday for swifter punishment for Holocaust deniers as parliament debated how to combat rising anti-Semitism.

Among other measures, a Jewish umbrella organization said it wants Holocaust deniers punished under rules usually reserved for drunk drivers, shoplifters, and football hooligans.

Under the "snelrecht," or "fast justice" policy, police and prosecutors offer offenders a choice immediately after their arrest between a fine or a court appearance within two months.

"I don't understand why it should be difficult for policeman to give a fine directly to perpetrators of these remarks," said Ronny Naftaniel of The Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, in a telephone interview.

He added that he would support the same measure for anti-Moroccan discrimination, which is also on the rise in the Netherlands.

Anti-Semitism has become a hot-button issue as many native Dutch blame anti-Semitism on the country's Muslim minority, while Muslims say there is a double standard and discrimination against those of Moroccan and Turkish ancestry goes unpunished.

A national police report in September found a 48 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents to 209 in 2009. The same report found that anti-Moroccan incidents rose 17 percent to 103.

After a wave of immigration in the 1990s Muslims make up around 1 million of the country's 16 million population. After being decimated during World War II, the Dutch Jewish population is estimated at 40,000-50,000.

Rising anti-Semitism "can be attributed to the rise of influence of Islam in the Netherlands," said Freedom party member of parliament Joram van Klaveren during the debate. "The more Islam, the more anti-Semitism."

Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, whose VVD party leads the country's ruling conservative coalition, was among several MPs who rejected those remarks.

"It's not your belief that counts, but your behavior," she said.

The exchange reflects the state of politics in the Netherlands.


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