Joodse studenten/docenten in academisch Nederland (vogel)vrij?!

November 25, 2021

Onze columnist Bas Belder had een gesprek met Ethan Gabriel Bergman van de Universiteit Maastricht over het Nederlandse academische klimaat voor Joodse studenten en docenten. "Als je je baan wilt behouden, zeg dan niet dat je Joods bent en Israël steunt.” Het dringende advies van een universitaire docent aan zijn Joodse collega.

 

Aan welke manifestaties van Jodenhaat én Israëlhaat stond/staat u bloot als student aan de Universiteit van Maastricht?

 

Bergman: Of we dat nu willen of niet, wij worden als Joodse studenten altijd aan Israël gekoppeld. De Joodse studentengemeenschap walgt van het faciliteren van puur eenzijdige anti-Israël evenementen binnen de universiteit. Dat gebeurde bijvoorbeeld bij de rechtenfaculteit in Maastricht tijdens een sessie over “Palestijnse vrouwen in de strijd voor vrijheid – Toen en Nu”. De discussie draaide louter om de ontkenning van Israëls bestaansrecht.

 

In plaats van ons te verliezen in zulke kansloze debatten, geven wij als Joodse studenten nu prioriteit aan eigen manifestaties in plaats van ons steeds opnieuw tegen haatcampagnes te moeten keren.

 

Met de groeiende desinformatie over Israël voelen Joodse studenten zich op de campus alleen maar onveiliger. Welke uitbarstingen van emoties ook loskomen jegens Israël, Europese Joden worden daar steevast het slachtoffer van als medeschuldigen. Zie de toename van het antisemitisme in Europa in mei tijdens de terreuraanvallen van Hamas op de Joodse staat.

 

Op onze universiteit opereert Free Palestine Maastricht onder de noemer dat de organisatie voor “vrijheid van meningsuiting” staat. De universiteit gaat hiermee akkoord. Deze beweging is evenwel evident antisemitisch door de demonisering en delegitimering van Israël en het hanteren van dubbele standaarden jegens de Joodse staat. Free Palestine Maastricht verkoopt haar antisemitisme onder de noemer van “vrijheid van spreken over Palestina”, een ‘recht’ dat “zionisten” wensen in te perken.

 

Een poging van onze zijde om als Joodse studenten in gesprek te komen met Free Palestine Maastricht mislukte. Wij werden gebrandmerkt als “zionisten die de Joden niet vertegenwoordigen”.

 

Als Joodse studenten willen deelnemen aan een solidariteitsbijeenkomst met het zwaar vervolgde moslimvolk van de Oeigoeren in China, vangen zij bot. Een Davidsster naast de Oeigoerse maansikkel op een banier kan absoluut niet volgens een zeer activistische hoogleraar. Die davidsster staat volgens de professor “symbool voor genocidale intenties”, daarmee trek je zijns inziens “geen linkse mensen en moslims bij de protesten aan”.

 

Nog nare persoonlijke ervaringen qua antisemitische uitingen?

 

Bergman: Het heeft niet rechtstreeks betrekking op de universiteit, maar de deur van mijn appartement moest het tijdens carnaval 2021 ontgelden. De mezoeza was op de grond gesmeten en er was een swastika in de deur gekerfd. Interessant genoeg verenigde dit incident de Joodse studentengemeenschap voor een poosje, totdat we opnieuw onze maskers moesten opzetten tijdens het weer oplaaien van het conflict tussen Israël en Hamas. Twee weken lang werden wij als Joodse studenten bedreigd door medestudenten. Uiteindelijk deed een Joodse studente haar beklag bij de decaan. “Ze had er om gevraagd”, kreeg ze eventjes te horen. Gedemoraliseerd is deze studente omwille van haar persoonlijke veiligheid gestopt in Maastricht. Weer andere Joodse studenten werden gestalkt. Ik kreeg zelf maandenlang anonieme dreigtelefoontjes.

 

Met dit alles in het achterhoofd, wil ik samen met andere Joodse studenten werken aan een betere toekomst. Wij willen die verschrikkelijke periode achter ons laten waarin onze eigen hoogleraren brieven ondertekenden die opriepen tot een academische en economische boycot van Israël in Nederland. Dat zelfs de meesten van mijn professoren daaraan meededen, heeft de Joodse gemeenschap ernstig geschokt. Ook het feit dat een groot aantal hoogleraren een BDS-brief ondertekenden, vervreemde hen van Joodse studenten.

 

Tot vorig jaar ontbrak de Internationale Gedenkdag van de Holocaust op de universitaire kalender van Maastricht. Die was vervangen door “Chocolate Cake Day”. Bovendien vormden officiële Joodse feestdagen tot op dit jaar geen geldige reden om uitstel van een deadline of een examen te verlenen.

 

Hoeveel van uw medestudenten in Maastricht zijn eigenlijk Joods?

 

Bergman: Ik schat dat er rond de 150-175 Joodse studenten bij de Universiteit van Maastricht zijn ingeschreven. Hun precieze aantal is momenteel moeilijk te bepalen. Van slechts zo’n 75 weten we het precies. De redenen voor deze situatie zijn velerlei: zij voelen zich niet op hun gemak om als Joods naar buiten te treden; ze zijn niet op de hoogte van de huidige Joodse studentengemeenschap of hebben (nog) geen Joodse medestudent getroffen, die hen kan introduceren.

 

Maar zodra Joden zich op de universiteit werkelijk comfortabel gaan voelen, zullen we zeker een sterke groei zien. Samen met de universiteit streven we naar zo’n werkelijk inclusieve, veilige situatie.

 

Kijken we naar heel Nederland: hoeveel Joodse studenten en docenten telt de academische wereld? En zijn zij ook op enigerlei wijze verenigd tegen manifestaties van Jodenhaat?

 

Bergman: Wij zijn niet verenigd. Een schatting is daarom vrij lastig. Daarbij komt dat tal van Joodse studenten het niet comfortabel achten voor hun identiteit uit te komen. Uit angst voor stigmatisering.

 

De documentatie van antisemitische voorvallen is eveneens lacuneus. Joodse studenten staan sowieso bijzonder sceptisch tegenover het nut van het melden van individuele incidenten. Wat verandert dat? Daarom worden heel wat uitingen van Jodenhaat eenvoudigweg niet geregistreerd.

 

Van de Universiteit van Maastricht weet ik dat er zo’n half dozijn Joodse en Israëlische professoren en stafleden werken. Stafleden vertelden mij dat de naam van Israël niet mag worden genoemd in bepaalde discussies en publicaties. Een collega van een Joods staflid gaf hem eens te kennen: “Als je je baan wilt houden, zeg dan niet dat je Joods bent en Israël steunt.”

 

Deze stafleden en professoren zwegen praktisch tijdens het conflict in mei tussen Israël en Hamas. Opstaan tegen de heersende grove desinformatie zou hun veiligheid in gevaar brengen, idem hun baan. Het punt is echter, dat zwijgen Joodse docenten en studenten niet helpt. Want als het zogenoemde Israëlische antisemitisme weer eens piekt, zij evengoed lijden als degenen die wel de moed hadden hun mond open te doen.

 

U bent ook actief bij de Europees Joodse Associatie (EJA). In welke mate beïnvloedt ‘de factor-Israël’ de activiteiten van de Joodse gemeenschappen in Europa?

 

Bergman: Zij krijgen te horen dat universiteiten en studentenorganisaties alleen met hen willen samenwerken als Joodse studenten zich evenzeer tegen Israël keren en geen enkele link leggen met Israël tijdens gemeenschappelijke evenementen. In de praktijk komt dit erop neer dat Joden de uitgangspunten van de BDS dienen te steunen om geaccepteerd te worden. Het aan Israël gerelateerd antisemitisme is trouwens in extreme mate present in Nederland bij de politieke en sociale faculteiten, met de professoren in de rol van medeplichtigen.

 

Het gebrek aan interactie met Joden en Israëli’s vergiftigt onze academische wereld onder de noemer van “sociale gerechtigheid”. Hoe meer anti-Israëlische, antisemitische retoriek, des te minder zullen Joden zichzelf als zodanig kenbaar maken en zich assimileren omwille van eigen toekomstig welzijn en carrière.

 

Bij welke initiatieven ben u rechtstreeks betrokken om Jodenhaat tegen te gaan op academisch terrein alsook om de Joodse presentie op te bouwen?

 

Bergman: Eerst even een persoonlijke noot: als ik bij een ontmoeting merk dat ik de eerste Jood ben die mijn gesprekspartner ooit is tegengekomen, stimuleer ik deze persoon mij te vragen wat hij of zij ook maar wil. Voor de grap noem ik dat “Jewsplaining”. Win ik zo vrienden, dan blijken zij de sterkste bondgenoten van Joden en Israël te zijn die ik ken. Dat gaat niet zonder slag of stoot. In veel gevallen verliezen Joodse studenten hun niet-Joodse vrienden om politieke redenen, denk aan de BDS-beweging, zo weet ik uit mijn contacten in Maastricht.

 

Het is echter de verantwoordelijkheid van alle Joodse studenten open te zijn over hun identiteit, pas dan dient zich het perspectief van niet-Joodse medestanders aan.

 

Binnen de EJA breng ik Joodse studenten uit heel Europa samen tijdens “Bootcamps”. Gezamenlijk brainstormen we dan drie dagen lang hoe onwetendheid over Joodse cultuur en leefwijze het hoofd te bieden, idem de rondwarende Jodenhaat op Europese campussen. Wij preciseren dan tegelijk onze praktische aanpak, evenzo hoe het best Israël te representeren.

 

Via de zogenoemde “Diplomatic Council” binnen de EJA trainen we een netwerk van toegewijde studenten per land in omgaan met de media, debatteren, in het openbaar spreken en educatie. In het vertegenwoordigen van Joden en Israël in Europa spelen we schaak, geen dammen.

 

Ook werken we samen met parlementariërs en andere politici, zoals ministers van onderwijs, om academische instellingen te motiveren zich pro-actief op te stellen, dat wil zeggen inclusief tegenover Joodse en Israëlische studenten. Tegenwoordig ben ik daartoe ook actief binnen de organisatie StandWithUs Nederland.

 

De EJA buigt zich nu over de vraag welke informatie moeten wij gaan geven aan de staf en decanen van universiteiten. Conform wat opperrabbijn Jacobs niet moe wordt te herhalen: “Educatie, educatie, educatie!” Dat is de enige manier waarmee wij als Joodse studenten kunnen gedijen op de universiteiten.

 

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Mega Purim Project

Like every year, right before Purim, the EJA together with Bassad and RCE launched the Mega purim Project.  We have organized and delivered hundreds of Mishlochei Manot to be given in Jewish communities across Europe during the upcoming Purim.
May it be a joyful and peaceful Purim to all.

 

Jews Are Being Murdered in Paris. Again.

It’s no rare thing for the Israeli prime minister to enrage the Jews of the diaspora. But three years ago, Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech that won him near-universal condemnation.

In the aftermath of several deadly attacks in European cities like Paris and Copenhagen, Mr. Netanyahu called on Jews to leave Europe. “Of course, Jews deserve protection in every country. But we say to Jews, to our brothers and sisters: Israel is your home,” he said, echoing comments he had made more subtly the month before at Paris’s Grand Synagogue.

Mr. Netanyahu’s suggestion of “mass immigration” was “unacceptable,” said Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the head of the European Jewish Association. Abraham Foxman, then head of the Anti-Defamation League, suggested such a policy would “grant Hitler a posthumous victory.” Denmark’s chief rabbi, Jair Melchior, said he was “disappointed.” Smadar Bar-Akiva, the executive director of JCC Global, said “the calls for French Jews to pack their bags” and move were “disturbing and self-defeating.”

François Hollande, then president, echoing a chorus of European leaders, pushed back hard, appealing to his country’s Jews: “Your place is here, in your home. France is your country.”

Is it?

This is a question worth seriously asking following the barbaric murder last week of Mireille Knoll.

Ms. Knoll, 85, believed Mr. Hollande. France was her place, her home, her country. And Paris was her city.

She believed this despite the fact that it was also the city where, when she was 9 years old, the police rounded up 13,000 of the city’s Jews, 4,000 of them children, and crammed them into Vélodrome d’Hiver, a cycling stadium, before shipping them to their deaths at Auschwitz. Ms. Knoll narrowly escaped this largest French deportation of Jews during the Holocaust and fled to Portugal with her mother.

After the war, she married a man who had survived Auschwitz. She returned to her native land where she built a home and raised a family. French to her core, she stayed in Paris even as her grandchildren moved to Israel.

She remained in her apartment in the 11th arrondissement when, suffering from Parkinson’s disease, she was stabbed 11 times. Her apartment was then set on fire. Firefighters found the burned body on Friday night.

Parisian authorities are investigating the murder as being motivated by the “membership, real or supposed, of the victim of a particular religion.” But euphemisms should have no place in describing the nature of Mireille Knoll’s death. She was murdered by men apparently animated by the same hatred that drove Hitler.

Two suspects, a 29-year-old and a 21-year-old, have been arrested. The older man is a neighbor Ms. Knoll has known since he was a child. The younger, according to reports, is homeless. One of the suspects told the investigators that the other had shouted “Allahu Akbar” while killing Ms. Knoll, according to Le Monde. (A lawyer for the Knoll family, Gilles-William Goldnadel, confirmed that in a phone call.) On Tuesday, Gérard Collomb, the interior minister, told Parliament that one of the attackers had told the other: “She’s a Jew. She must have money.”

In fact, Ms. Knoll was “poor,” according to her son, Daniel. She’d lived most of her life in the same apartment in the subsidized housing project where she was killed.

It’s a neighborhood that has already borne witness to a nearly identical crime. Almost exactly a year ago, a 65-year-old Jewish widow named Sarah Halimi was murdered by her neighbor, 27-year-old Kobili Traoré. Other neighbors said they heard Mr. Traoré scream “Allahu Akbar” as he beat Ms. Halimi, a retired doctor, to near death in the early hours of April 4, 2017. He then threw her body into the courtyard below.

It took months for Ms. Halimi’s murder to be categorized as an anti-Jewish hate crime. “It was scandalous,” said Mr. Goldnadel, the lawyer, who also represented the Halimi family.

This time, French authorities have been quick to call the crime by its proper name. On Monday, President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “I would like to express my shock at the appalling crime committed against Mrs. Knoll. I reaffirm my absolute determination to fight anti-Semitism.” On Wednesday, he said that she was murdered “because she was Jewish” at a tribute to a police officer killed in an Islamist attack. Mr. Macron has been widely praised by the country’s Jewish community for his moral clarity in describing anti-Zionism as a “reinvented form of anti-Semitism.”

Anti-Semitism was supposed to be a disease of the far right. But the people actually killing Jews in France these days are not members of the National Front. They are Islamists.

“The major crimes against the Jewish community — Ilan Halimi, the Toulouse killings, the Hyper Cacher killings, Sarah Halimi — all of them have all been carried out by radicalized Muslims,” Robert Ejnes, the executive director of CRIF, an umbrella organization of French Jewish groups, told me in a call from Paris. “These young people have French identity cards, but they hate what France stands for. This is the nature of the problem we are facing. And it’s very hard to talk about.”

Here are some facts that are very hard to talk about: Jews represent less than 1 percent of the population in France, yet in 2014, 51 percent of all racist attacks were carried out against them, according to the French Interior Ministry. A survey from that year of about 1,000 French respondents with unknown religious affiliation and 575 self-identified Muslims, conducted by the AJC Paris and the French think tank Fondapol, found that the Muslim respondents were two or three times more likely to have anti-Jewish sentiments than those from the random French group. Nineteen percent of all respondents felt that Jews had “too much” political power. Among Muslims, the number was 51 percent. As for the idea that Zionism “is an international organization that aims to influence the world and society in favor of the Jews,” 44 percent of Muslims surveyed approved of this statement. The rest of the survey is just as devastating.

For years now, France has deployed armed troops to protect Jewish synagogues and schools. But the violence on the streets — a 15-year-old girl wearing the uniform of her Jewish school slashed in the face; an 8-year-old boy wearing a kippah assaulted; teenage siblings called “dirty Jews” before being beaten — hasn’t abated. On Wednesday, hours before a march in honor of Mireille Knoll, the office of the Union of French Jewish Students at the Sorbonne was ransacked and defaced with graffiti like “Viva Arafat” and “death to Israel.”

Whatever else the investigation of Ms. Knoll’s murder might reveal, this much we know for certain: The men who are accused of killing her were living in a culture in which Jews are reviled on the far right and, increasingly, on the far left; in which sensitivity toward cultural differences have driven too many for too long to ignore the spread of an ancient hatred in a vicious new form; in which attacks on Jews have been explained away as politically motivated by events in the Middle East. In such a culture, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some would come to the conclusion that Jewish blood is cheap.

In the wake of Ms. Knoll’s murder, all of the usual lines are being repeated. Anti-Semitism is the hatred that never dies. Violence that begins with the Jews never ends with them.

All of this is true. What’s also true is that anti-Semitism is the oldest hatred in the world because individual people have sustained it in every generation. It cannot be defeated until we look these people and their ideologies in the face.

Every French Jew — like millions of Jews throughout history — will have to make their own choice about whether to leave their homes for safer shores or to stay and fight for their rightful place in a country that prides itself on being a beacon of liberty and fraternity. But perhaps the better part of wisdom is with one of Mireille Knoll’s granddaughters, Noa Goldfarb. Following her grandmother’s murder, she wrote in a Facebook post from Israel: “Twenty years ago, I left Paris knowing that neither my future nor that of the Jewish People is to be found there.”

The article was published on The New York Times
 

COVID Diary- Reflections from Our Advisory Board Member Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs

Every Day during the Corona crisis our Advisory Board Member Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs (NL) writes a diary, on request of the Jewish Cultural Quarter in Amsterdam, which is published on the website of the NIW, the only Jewish Dutch Magazine. Rabbi Jacobs is the head of Inter Governmental Relationships at the Rabbinical Centre of Europe. We will be regularly publishing a selection of his informative, sometimes light hearted, but always wise pieces.
For our Dutch readers you can follow the diary every day at NIW home page: https://niw.nl
Eli, Mazal Tov!
Our grandson Eli turned three! My daughter, his mother, blew up 150 balloons for it and it turned into a drive-in party. I'll come back to it in a moment.
We are plagued here in Holand by rioters, detritus. Of course the riots are served up with a side order of ‘rational’ sauce.
The youth do not feel heard, the vaccine is not good and there will be more explanations as to why this looting is taking place. Cars are set on fire, windows smashed, police cars overturned. Polygamy must be allowed and forced prostitution is acceptable. And at the same time we speak with justified horror and disgust about glitterati such as Epstein, Weinstein and fashion king Jean-Luc Brunel who, despite their criminal lives, could and were allowed to afford themselves anything.
If everything is allowed and everything is possible, is it any wonder that this kind of criminally smelly rich activity goes on and on ?! Morality is totally lost. Is there a new phenomenon?
In the Pirke Avot, the ethics of the Fathers, we read (3: 2) that we should pray for the welfare of the royal family because if there is no authority people devour each other alive. And that is exactly what is happening now. Anarchy and therefore aimless looting, burning cars, blocking entrances to hospitals and completely destroying individual hard-working people.
As it was really unimaginable six months ago that the Capitol in the USA could be penetrated, it is no longer inconceivable in our own peaceful polder country that something like this could also happen here in our government buildings. I cannot imagine that this is not yet taken into account by the police. At the German cemetery in Ysselsteyn, an educational centre is being set up that shows how easily people can be transformed into inhuman beings. There, SS killers and Dutch traitors lie buried next to regular soldiers who were often forced, against their will, to go to war they absolutely did not want. But many of them, still young, were brainwashed and believed that good is bad and that there are Aryans and Jews, Humans and Superman.
I am convinced that ten or twenty years from now, most rioters will look back with horror at the present and be filled with shame.
By coincidence (although coincidence really does not exist!) I came across a speech I gave in 2010 on the occasion of 65 years of liberation:
“Freedom is not everything is allowed and everything is possible and freedom does not mean that we can and must tolerate everything. Freedom has limits and requires individual commitment, training, education and respect for others. Freedom cannot tolerate everything, freedom has its limitations, freedom starts with you, with me, for the sake of all of us.
They fought for freedom
For then, for tomorrow and for the present
But if freedom means, everything is possible and everything is allowed
And respect is disappearing for Government and for authority
When values ​​and norms fade and disappear
When people only think of themselves and their own
And for the other there is no place and there is no place
If it is common to think that it should
Then the freedom of that time is not the freedom of the present
Isn't it the freedom they fought for?”
I don't want to include the 1940s-45s. Despite the riots, despite comparisons that might be drawn, we have a Government that may not be excellent with respect to Corona, but it is reliable. Rutte can absolutely not be compared to any villainous potentate. He is a good person who wants to do what is right for his citizens.
However, I would like to mention that today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. That Holocaust also started with looting, brainwashing, indoctrination, maleficent education.
My grandson Eli who lives in Montreal turned three today. There is a custom not to cut a boy's hair until his third birthday because man is compared in the Torah to a tree in the field. And just as the fruit of the tree must be left untouched for the first three years, so too, the hair is not cut until the boy is three. Eli has received presents, put money in the Tzedaka (charity) box , he was allowed to say aleph beit and lick the letters that were smeared with honey. Tomorrow he will be wrapped in a tallit and carried into the Jewish school and sweets will be thrown at him.
Obviously, corona is a bummer here, but I am convinced that my son-in-law and daughter will do everything as normal as possible while respecting the corona rules. So Eli is raised from day one with positive thoughts, deeds and gifts. He will not get a pistol or a frightening dragon from his grandpas and grandmas. We gave him, via zoom, his own kiddush cup, a small one of course. He is now wearing a yarmulke and tzitzit.
And so, his parents invest from a very young age in his Jewish upbringing and pray daily that Eli may continue to follow the right path, the way of Torah and Tradition, so that he will be a blessing not only for his own family but also for the society as a whole.
Eli, Mazal Tov!

Bulgarian Synagogue and Halle Memorial Targeted in Anti-Semitic Attacks in Europe

Vandals struck a synagogue gate in Bulgaria and a monument to the victims of the shooting attack last Yom Kippur near a synagogue in Halle, Germany, in a spate of unrelated incidents last week in Europe, the JTA reported.
In Bulgaria, the words “Free Palestine Israel=Nazis Antifa Bulgaria” were spray-painted Wednesday on the gate to the synagogue of Plovdiv, a city situated about 100 miles southeast of the capital Sofia.
While in Germany, in Halle, a plexiglas panel on the monument of the shooting was smashed. The vandals also tried to set fire to a flag of Israel under the Plexiglas, the Jewish Community of Halle wrote Tuesday on their social media page.
Also in Germany, in a third incident, a structure inside the Jewish cemetery of the town of Krumbach, in southern Germany, was damaged. Police are treating the vandalism as an anti-Semitic case because earlier this year, a nearby picnic table was dismantled and the wooden polls comprising it rearranged on the floor in the shape of a swastika, the website AllgaeuRechtsaussen reported Monday.
Also Monday, metal thieves removed dozens of fences and railings from around tombstones at the Jewish cemetery of Babruysk in Belarus, the news Bobruisk.ru reported.
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