"Decoy Jew" is a new phrase in the Netherlands. Jews are no longer safe in major Dutch cities such as Amsterdam. Since 1999, Jewish organizations in the Netherlands have been complaining that Jews who walking the Dutch streets wearing skullcaps risk verbal and physical attacks by young Muslims. Being insulted, spat at or attacked are some of the risks associated with being recognizable as a Jew in contemporary Western Europe.
Last week, a television broadcast showed how three Jews with skullcaps, two adolescents and an adult, were harassed within thirty minutes of being out in the streets of Amsterdam. Young Muslims spat at them, mocked them, shouted insults and made Nazi salutes. "Dirty Jew, go back to your own country," a group of Moroccan youths shouted at a young indigenous Dutch Jew. "It is rather ironic," the young man commented, adding that if one goes out in a burka one encounters less hostility than if one wears a skullcap.
In an effort to arrest the culprits who terrorize Jews, the Amsterdam authorities have ordered police officers to walk the streets disguised as Jews. The Dutch police already disguise officers as "decoy prostitutes, decoy gays and decoy grannies" to deter muggings and attacks on prostitutes, homosexuals and the elderly. Apparently sending out the decoys has helped reduce street crime. The "decoy Jew" has now been added to the police attributes.
The deployment of "decoy Jews", however, is being criticized by leftist parties such as the Dutch Greens. Evelien van Roemburg, an Amsterdam counselor of the Green Left Party, says that using a decoy by the police amounts to provoking a crime, which is itself a criminal offence under Dutch law.
Unfortunately, the situation in Amsterdam is not unique. Jews in other Dutch cities also regularly complain about harassment. So do Jews in neighboring countries.
On Monday, the Belgian newspaper De Standaard reported that large numbers of Jews are leaving Antwerp for America, Britain or Israel. Antwerp – nicknamed the "Jerusalem of the North" – is one of the major centers of Jewish culture in the Low Countries. "In London, you are not harassed if you wear a skullcap, but here you are," a young Antwerp Jew told the paper.
Kleinblatt, a famous Jewish Antwerp bakery, which has been handed down from father to son since 1903, will soon break with that tradition because the baker's son has emigrated to the U.S. "We no longer feel safe and welcome here," a young Jew who is leaving for London told De Standaard. "Muslim immigrants blame us for what is happening in Israel." Another young Jew, who is leaving for New York, says: "New York is a paradise for Jews. Unlike Belgium, non-Jews in America are pro-Israel."
Ultra-orthodox Jews remain in Antwerp, but the less orthodox are leaving in droves. Even Jacques Wenger, the director of Shomre Hadas, the Jewish community center in Antwerp, is emigrating to Israel. If the current trend continues, he predicts, in fifty years' time there will be no Jews left in Antwerp except for the ultra-orthodox.
The Jews are often said to be the canary in the coalmine: when the Jews feel compelled to leave, the light of freedom is being extinguished. Something is badly wrong when the police need to deploy "decoy Jews." Once again, the specter of anti-Semitism is haunting Europe. If the Europeans do not stand with the Jews, they deserve no freedom themselves and cities such as Amsterdam and Antwerp will soon be Islamic cities.