Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dutch Jews and Antisemitism

Symbolic and Other Roles of Jews in Dutch Society by Manfred Gerstenfeld

Out of the total Dutch population of 16 million, Jews represent about two in every thousand. Jews often play a symbolic role in Dutch society which exceeds their actual importance. One facet of this is their image as absolute victims. Second, the Jewish community has on various occasions been used by Dutch authorities as instruments in achieving political goals. The Jews have also been the typical outsiders in Dutch society and anti-Semitic stereotypes are still very much alive. In addition, Dutch Jews are seen by many Dutchmen as responsible for Israel's actions. Finally, the Jews fulfill a 'sensor' function for events to come. If all the Jews were to leave the country, Dutch society would still operate without significant difficulties. However, the symbolic role of the Jews in The Netherlands is so great that it is doubtful whether the country could do without its Jews.

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