While many people view Holland as a law-abiding country, its Jewish population is experiencing a growing wave of anti-Semitism, says a founder of that country’s principal organization which fights anti-Semitism.
Nathan Wijnperle, secretary-treasurer of Stiba (Foundation for the Fight Against Anti-Semitism), said during a recent visit to Toronto that while anti-Semitism in Holland has always existed below the surface, it began to surface after the 1973 Yom Kippur War when people started to blame Jews for the Arab oil embargo. To fight this, Stiba came into existence.
“People should be aware of what is going on with discrimination and anti-Semitism,” said Wijnperle, 61, past president of Hillel Lodge, B’nai B’rith, the largest lodge in Holland. Wijnperle is a survivor of Vught, one of three concentration camps set up by the Germans in Holland during World War II. For the past six years he has worked as a volunteer in the economic department of the Israel Embassy in The Hague.
Wijnperle explained that Stiba is a volunteer organization that “gathers and records anti-Semitic incidents, assists in bringing about and improving legislation against discrimination and deals with complaints about anti-Semitism through the political and judicial systems.”
It operates with a board of six members, including Wijnperle, and is assisted by an advisory board of 15 members. Among its members are Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal, Yehuda Bauer, a professor at Hebrew University, three rabbis and Dutch professors.
MULTI-FACETED ACTIVITIES BY STIBA
Beginning with a successful campaign to have the Dutch government enact anti-boycott legislation during the Arab oil crisis in 1973, Stiba has since gone on and taken people to court and had anti-Semitic books confiscated. Wijnperle added that many of these books were published in Canada.
As well as fighting anti-Semitism in the Dutch media, Wijnperle said Stiba keeps an eye on educational publications. When an anti-Semitic one was found recently in the school system Stiba protested and it was withdrawn.
Wijnperle said that probably the most serious problem at the moment is religious anti-Semitism. He said there are certain sects of Catholics and Protestants preaching anti-Semitism and publishing anti-Semitic brochures.
THOUSANDS OF ANTI-SEMITIC TRACTS PUBLISHED
When Lucas and Jenny Goeree, a Dutch couple belonging to a Protestant sect, were found to be publishing thousands of anti-Semitic brochures, Stiba took them to court and they were convicted. As a result, all their possessions were confiscated and they were forbidden from continuing to publish the offending material.
However, Wijnperle said, the couple managed to obtain funding from an unknown source and began publishing and distributing 300,000 brochures in February. Stiba has again brought the matter to the attention of the public prosecutor.
Wijnperle said the brochures state that “the Jews can principally blame themselves for what happened to them during the Holocaust. They killed Christ and proclaimed that his blood comes onto us and our children. And that is exactly what has happened to the Jews all through the centuries.”
To make such prosecutions easier to obtain, Wijnperle said Stiba is working with the Dutch justice department to change the law dealing with anti-Semitism. While Dutch law currently prohibits discrimination and anti-Semitism, there must be proof that an offender committed the crime deliberately. This is often difficult to prove and Stiba would like such offenders prosecuted without having to prove intent.
‘LIVING ON THE EDGE OF THE IMPOSSIBLE’
This working relationship with the justice department exists throughout the Dutch government, Wijnperle said. While the government recognizes and supports Stiba, he said budgetary restraints prevent it from offering financial support.
The Jewish community is sympathetic to Stiba’s cause, but only a “handful” of local Jews actually contribute. There are about 20,000 Jews presently in Holland, compared to the 125,000 who lived there prior to the Holocaust.
“We’re living on the edge of the impossible,” Wijnperle said regarding Stiba’s financial condition.
As well as maintaining good contacts with the Dutch government, Wijnperle said Stiba has close connections with Israeli government officials and a “very good relationship” with the World Jewish Congress and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
For more information on Stiba write to POB 2009, 3000 CA Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.