Friday, September 12, 2014

Dutch Jew Plans Shabbat ‘Kippah Walk’ to Protest Growing Muslim Anti-Semitism 

After enduring years of growing anti-Semitic hostility and harassment in his neighborhood, one Dutch Jew tells The Algemeiner that he’s had enough, and is planning a peaceful mass walk in protest, this weekend. “Something unique is happening here,” Fabrice Schomberg, 36, who lives in the Schilderswijk area of The Hague, said in a telephone interview on Thursday.

“There’s a lot of Muslims, Christians and Jews who are going to be walking with a kippah [Jewish skullcap] in my neighborhood in solidarity,” he said of the event, scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

While city officials have forbidden demonstrations after two pro-ISIS demonstrations on July 4th, and 24th, “the police are okay with the kippah walk; it is not a demonstration, so I don’t think there will be problems.”

After the second demonstration, Jewish human rights group, the Simon Wiesenthal Center urged Dutch authorities to “Ban ISIS,” noting that “At least in World War Two the Netherlands put up a fight against the Nazis.”

Laying out his goals, Schomberg said he “would like for people in Holland to stop using the term ‘cancerous Jew’ randomly, even directed at the police. Secondly, I would like Holland to show the world that religions, cultures and people can live in peace, I am an optimist and think this can be achievable,” but admitted, “there is lots of work to be done.”

Schomberg said he’s planning such kippah walks every Saturday until the week-long Sukkot [Festival of Tabernacles] holiday, which begins on October 8th, when he said he plans to host “Muslims from Mosques, Christian, priests, imams and rabbis and neighbors, as well as establishing a ‘story exchange.’”

“In Islam and in Judaism, stories are very important to deliver morals and ethics, so I would like to hear stories from Islam about coexistence, and tolerance and peace and war, and exchange with them some of my own stories, as well as to tell some Jewish ones in a mosque,” he hoped.

The move comes in the wake of a near hit-and-run by a hostile moped rider against him last Friday night, and catcalls by other passersby, calling him a “cancer.”

Police said “the guy with the scooter can’t be arrested since you can’t file a complaint against ‘intent to harm’ in Holland,” and have no evidence against the youth who swore at him. But, he added, since the incident was videotaped for a documentary program on the increasingly dangerous area, he believes police could track down the moped rider via the license plate.

He said after that attack that “I feel really unsafe in the district,” and added in a later communication that “I know two Jews who took their mezuzah scrolls out of their doorposts, and have heard that more have done so in Holland.”

Jews traditionally affix the small parchment scrolls to the side of their doorposts, as an identifying religious symbol of their faith.

The incident happened during the filming of a documentary report for the EO TV program 3Onderzoekt. For the report, Schomberg strolled through one neighborhood on Friday night, wearing the traditional Jewish skullcap, as Jewish men do going to or from synagogue.

The Hague Mayor, Jozias Johannes van Aartsen, promised to “thoroughly investigate” the harassment, according to local media.

“In proportion to the number of immigrants who live in Holland, it’s the country with the largest Muslim population in Europe,” Schomberg pointed out. “Then, The Hague is the city with the most Muslims in Holland, and my neighborhood, Schilderswijk, is the neighborhood with the most Muslims in The Hague.”

In the midst of the “predominantly Muslim neighborhood,” which he called a “test for [Islamic] Sharia law,” he explained, “…not many people know this – there’s a small ‘settlement,’ you can call it, of Jews and Israelis, living in housing that was built for Jews before the war.”

Born in Colchester, Essex, England, raised in Jerusalem, and living for over a decade in Holland, Schomberg said that he stopped wearing his traditional kippah “about a year ago, because I was getting pestered in the street. A couple of weeks ago at a [pro] ISIS demonstration, they were shouting ‘death to the Jews.’”

“There’s a big division between the Dutch and the Muslims, and the Muslims are not very fond of the Jews,” he noted, but said he was going ahead with his demonstration.

“I’ve got a couple of politicians coming over for the kiddush [ritual blessings made over wine and foods at a traditional Shabbat meal],” he said.

Schomberg, in trying to sum up conflicting attitudes in Holland, mused that, “It’s a very confusing time for the Dutch, because they were anti – let’s say, Muslim – and they were very pro-Israel.

“But they were not happy about what Israel did in Gaza [in Operation Protective Edge], so they were actually against Israel. But then they went to anti-Israel demonstrations, and they found anti-Semitic statements – and they didn’t like that.”

But, he charges that a lax police response to the death threats uttered at the ISIS rally opened the door to even more hostile acts afterward.

“The problem was, when they shouted ‘death to the Jews,’ nobody was arrested,” Schomberg said.

Officials said afterward that “’there weren’t any gray lines that were crossed, and we’re not going to be arresting anyone.’ And that created a void where people felt that, if they’re not arrested, they are allowed to wave ISIS flags in the street, and shout ‘death to the Jews.’

“It just created an atmosphere where anyone felt comfortable expressing their anti-Semitic views in the street.”


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