Man holding Palestinian flag smashes windows of Amsterdam kosher restaurant


AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Police are investigating the smashing of the windows of a kosher restaurant in a heavily Jewish part of the Dutch capital by a man wearing a Palestinian flag.

The incident at HaCarmel restaurant occurred Thursday morning, hours after U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The AT5 television station showed a video of the incident, in which a man holding a large stick while holding a Palestinian flag and wearing a Palestinian keffiyah scarf on his head smashes the window and kicks down the restaurant’s doors as passersby and two police officers look on.

In the video, the officers wait as the man breaks into the restaurant and then returns to the street holding an Israeli flag that he took from inside, which he throws at their feet. They then overpower and arrest him.

Police said the man, which a spokesperson defined as a “pro-Palestinian activist,” was 29-year-old foreigner with a temporary residence permit. Police would not indicate his nationality, the WNL television channel reported. The suspect is scheduled to be released Wednesday as per the maximum detainment period afforded by the law for suspects arrested for alleged vandalism, WNL reported.

Contacted by JTA, an employee at HaCarmel declined to comment on the circumstances of the incident, which the Federative Jewish Netherlands group reported online with pictures of a Dutch police officer kneeling in front of a shattered glass window.

Herman Loonstein, who heads Federative Jewish Netherlands, said the incident at HaCarmel happened when no patrons were inside the restaurant and ended without injury. “But it is nonetheless an attack, a terrorist attack, carried out by a man whose behavior was that of a terrorist,” he told JTA.

“Jerusalem is recognized as the capital by the United States of America, so the windows of an Israeli restaurant in Amsterdam are smashed.  Only logical. The Palestinian shal [sic] completes the story,” Federative Jewish Netherlands wrote on Twitter.

“Shocking! It is unbelievable that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is playing out here, and against the Jewish Dutch community,” the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, the Dutch Jewish community’s watchdog on anti-Semitic incidents, tweeted.

Last year, a Jewish woman, Victoria Waniewicz, was stabbed in the back outside another Amsterdam kosher restaurant, the Grand Cafe Rimon, by a Brazilian man whom a judge deemed unfit to stand trial because of insanity and who was hospitalized in a psychiatric institution of his choosing for one year.

Loonstein said that the incident at HaCarmel for many Dutch Jews compounds a growing fear about frequenting kosher restaurants following the Grand Café Rimon stabbing. “I know this to be the reality, and there was also a dip in the revenues of the café where the stabbing occurred. It has improved but I expect the new attack will only increase community members’ fear,” he said.

Police beefed up their presence around the restaurant and other Jewish institutions in the capital following the incident, according to Federative Jewish Netherlands.

The incident at HaCarmel came days after a report by the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam showing a drop in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2016 from 57 incidents in 2015 to 35 incidents last year.

Both figures recorded by the Anne Frank House are substantially lower than those recorded by the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, which documented in those years 126 and 109 incidents, respectively.

“The number of deliberate anti-Semitic incidents dropped,” the Anne Frank House said in a statement, “because it correlates to the scale of major violence in Israel. As there was no such violence in 2016, the drop in anti-Semitic incident in the Netherlands that year comes as no surprise.”

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