Our Advisory Board Member Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs (NL) statement after the main group of protestant churches in holland made a statement apologising for their treatment of jews through the ages and during the war.
On Sunday 8 November, the PKN, the union of Protestant Churches in the Netherlands, put forward an official apology for antisemitism throughout the ages and especially for their position during the Shoah (Holocaust).
In a live interview on Dutch Television last night, EJA Advisory Board Member, Rabbinical Centre of Europe Director of interfaith relations and Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands Binyomin Jacobs gave his response.
Extracts of his comments are below:
“It is commendable that the current church leadership admit wholeheartedly and in no uncertain terms that the Church as an institution could and should have done more. I am grateful for that recognition, that statement is important. But I want to make it clear for my part that I don't blame the current Church leaders, because they have done nothing wrong.
They are from after the war, nothing can be blamed for them. They did not send my family to the gas-chambers, they did not even watch.
When I was asked by the PKN to attend the official celebration of 500 years of the Reformation on October 31, 2017, I initially refused to accept that invitation. I declined to attend a meeting where a notorious anti-Semite would be honoured.
Of course, the scribe today cannot help the fact that his great-great-grandfather held Luther's erroneous theology towards the Jews of paramount importance as a Christian. In fact, he completely disagreed with the anti-Semitic statements of the great Christian master.
But how can I, as a Jew, join the celebration? "Show that you renounce his anti-Semitic statements, exclaim that you find that unacceptable," I said to my friend Rev. de Reuver. He agreed wholeheartedly. Twice at that meeting, in the presence of our Lord, they publicly distanced themselves from the anti-Semitic writings and statements.
Fifty years after the war, I was confronted with a tidal wave of monuments commemorating murdered Jews. Disclosure after disclosure. I remember asking a young mayor at the beginning of that period: why only now? Had it not been noted earlier that fellow Jewish citizens had not returned? And his answer has always stayed with me: “My predecessor did not want to be reminded of 1940 -45.That period did not suit him, those years had to be covered up as much as possible.
Within that framework I see this statement. I am deeply grateful to the heroes who saved the lives of my mother and many others without any form of profit, free of charge, at great risk to their own lives. I think of Rev. Overduin, Rev. Slomp, Rev. Koopmans, Rev. Buskes, and I also think of Mgr. de Jong.
And I am certainly thinking of resistance fighters who were arrested by cowardly betrayal before they could have done anything. No one has heard of them, they were brutally eliminated for refusing to watch. Above all, let us never forget them and keep commemorating them, despite their anonymity.
But at the same time we know that far too little was done in the war, that the churches certainly also kept silent too much and that “over the centuries the church helped prepare the breeding ground on which the seeds of anti-Semitism and hatred could grow”, as was reflected in the statement. For centuries Jews were dismissed as G-d killers who would receive their just deserts.
And it was good that the period after the war was also mentioned. My grandparents made every effort to take in their nieces and nephews whose parents had been murdered. To keep them for Judaism, as their parents would have liked. Driven by their faith, these ‘parents’, who had saved their lives completely selflessly, refused to return their Jewish children in hiding to where they should be. Many of these orphans are still suffering from the identity crisis afflicted them, the result of an unhealthy and unacceptable urge to convert.
The Christian Churches have put a line behind the past with their confession and recognition. But, more importantly to me, it has been clearly stated that they intend to fight with us against contemporary anti-Semitism.
In the time of the Crusades we had the wrong faith and entire Jewish congregations were exterminated by the crusaders. In the Middle Ages we were the virus that caused the plague and so we had to be exterminated, my dear parents were of the wrong race. And I am a Zionist! Of course there can be criticism of Israel's government policy, half Israel is against Netanyahu, just as not every Dutchman is for Rutte (I am!). But anti-Zionism is committed to the destruction of the State of Israel, the extermination of the Jewish people. Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.
Daily through the ages, we offer our prayers towards Jerusalem. Jerusalem, where today all religions in the world are allowed to live their religion in freedom, is inextricably linked with the Jewish people, with the survivors of 1940-45, with me.
Churches: leave politics to politicians. Recognize the mutated virus that has destroyed millions and millions of my people over the centuries and is now called anti-Zionism.
The PKN of today should not have had to explain the mea-culpa for me, the past is over. But the link so clearly drawn from the persecution of the Jews through the ages and the passive attitude of the majority of the churches when my family was taken away never to return, that link to the now and to the future, the intention to develop Judeo-Christian relations into a deep friendship, in which everyone can remain himself and therefore no attempts are made to convert, to want to be connected in the fight against contemporary anti-Semitism, that purpose, that statement makes me deeply grateful. The words of the statement, of the Christian churches, were good. I have hope yes, but expectation too.”
Diary March 18
Concerns about politics.
One of the prominent figures of the Jewish Netherlands, who is apparently occasionally
tormented by the disease called jealousy, approached me with the comment that he had
heard that I will be speaking next Sunday for the NIK on Zoom because of Pesach and
expressed the hope that I would not speak about anti-Semitism again and would not have
my message / lecture included with 'those Christians'.
Of course I don't have to justify myself and I can do whatever I want, but it bothered me
anyway. Because with "those Christians" professional recording equipment was available
and "those Christians" were willing to make a good recording completely free of charge, I
had made my NIK Hanukkah presentation with and by "those Christians".
Some years ago I had received a similar comment, from that same person, about "those
Christians." I needed to have less contact with them. I understand that setup. What I did not
fully understand, however, was that the same critic then went to "those Christians" to ask
for financial support for his, otherwise fine, projects.
Nothing new under the sun. I remember speaking to an eminent physician some time ago.
This ‘eminence’, he told me personally, was not so much down to his expertise in his field,
but as a much about his political qualities. No, he was not in politics, he was referring to
politics at the top of his university hospital. When I heard a little bit of that politics I
immediately thought of the rabbinic world! (Just kidding, because rabbis don't do politics!)
Because there is politics everywhere. Especially in the real and necessary democratic
politics: The elections!
I haven't been able to sleep all night. When I looked at the new composition of the House of
Representatives, I was overcome with concern. I hope and pray that I misjudge it
completely, but I fear it. Of course, there can be criticism of Israeli Politics, that does not
have to be a sign of anti-Semitism.
But if there is only talk about Israel and not a word is mentioned about the feudal
dictatorships of the countries around Israel, then I do not understand.
I understand and accept that one of our prominent mayors in a speech at #
MayorsAgainstAntisemtism # claims that criticism of Netanyahu is allowed, as well as
criticism of Rutte. But that's not the problem. Criticism of Netanyahu is allowed, 50% of
Israel criticizes him and that does not degrade them to anti-Semites.
The problem is that there is almost exclusively criticism of Israel. That Israel is by far at the
top of the list for UN Resolutions. The role of a mayor should be in trying to connect his
townspeople, and that does not happen by importing sensitive foreign conflicts. Do I think
this mayor is anti-Semitic? Absolutely not! Do I think this mayor should be allowed to
criticize Netanyahu? Sure! But what I regret is that criticism of Israel unfortunately and
often unintentionally leads to anti-Semitism.
How often am I not allowed to explain that I speak Dutch, although I am a Jew but not born
in Israel. The superficial one-sidedness in the experience, however nuanced a mayor may
present it, causes anti-Semitism here in our country. And so: if the mayor believes we
should keep the Middle East problem out of the city, then criticize Israel, Jordan, Yemen,
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, North Korea, China, on… and on…. But even better: let the mayor try to
bind the various population groups within the city limits and call them to develop activities
that unite together. And then, if connections and friendships have arisen, then, despite the
diversity, the friendship itself can look at bottlenecks and differences of opinion that
seemed unmentionable. Do you think that can succeed? Often not, but sometimes it does.
And sometimes I cherish that, because I have sometimes been able to experience this often!
And to the prominent Jewish Dutchman I would like to say: next week it is Pesach and Jews
all over the world read the Hagadah, which describes the Exodus from Egypt at that time.
And what do we read there about the present and now? "Because in every generation we
are rebelled against us to destroy us," literally. And then the text continues and says that
G-d will save us in the end. The Jewish people live and survive, but all kinds of things happen
along the way. We must know, prevent and combat that, but not deny it! I hope that the
new House of Representatives will want to fight that battle with us and will want to exercise
יום השואה הבינלאומי חל אומנם בינואר, אך בערב יום השואה בישראל, יצא איגוד הארגונים היהודיים באירופה (EJA) במבצע נרחב למירוק 458 אבני הנגף שהוטבעו במדרכות בריסל בירת בלגיה, אל מול בתים שמהם נשלחו יהודים למחנות ההשמדה. יו"ר איגוד הארגונים היהודים באירופה (EJA), הרב מנחם מרגולין: "אנו נחושים, להנציח את זיכרון השואה לאור הקיטוב הגובר בחברה, חוסר הסובלנות כלפי הזולת והעלייה הברורה באנטישמיות באירופה וקוראים להגביר את הפעילות החינוכית להעצמת זכר השואה והמאבק באנטישמיות".
הרב מרגולין הודה למתנדבים הרבים על הירתמותם למפעל החשוב וציין כי "אנו נחושים, להנציח את זיכרון השואה לאור הקיטוב הגובר בחברה, חוסר הסובלנות כלפי הזולת והעלייה הברורה באנטישמיות באירופה. האינטראקציה והחשיפה של אזרחי בריסל לשואה היא חיוניות, בהתחשב בעובדה שכשליש מהאירופאים יודעים מעט מאוד על זוועות השואה. אני קורא מכאן לכל ממשלות אירופה וראשי הערים ביבשת להגביר את הפעילות החינוכית להעצמת זכר השואה ומאבק באנטישמיות".
האירוע המרגש שנערך ברחובות בריסל וברשתות החברתיות תחת הכותרת #MakeTheirMemoryShine התקיים בשיתוף המוזיאון היהודי בבריסל ובמעמד ראש עיריית בריסל פיליפ קלוז, ניצולי שואה, מנהיגים יהודים ומאות מתנדבים – בני כל הדתות והגילאים, שקיבלו מאיגוד הארגונים היהודים באירופה ערכות ניקיון ייעודיות למירוק אבני הזיכרון.
אבן נגף (בגרמנית Stolperstein - שְטוֹלְפֶּרשְטַיין), הוא שמו של פרויקט הנצחה מתמשך בערים שונות באירופה, שיצר האמן גונטר דמניג. "אבני הנגף" של דמניג שקועות במדרכות בערים שונות במטרה להזכיר לעוברים ושבים את קורבנות הנאציזם. נכון להיום הונחו מעל ל-90,000 אבני נגף בערים רבות ברחבי אירופה.
It’s a challenging time for Jewish communities in Europe. Anti-Semitism is on the rise as populism and the politics of the lowest common denominator are gaining traction. Our communities often need round the clock protection and our practices and customs such as keeping Kosher are under pressure from increasing political interference.
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