The New Jews?

Our Flemish correspondent VH has compiled a report on a scandal which unfolded during the Christmas holiday and caused quite an outrage in the Netherlands. It seems that the socialist leader Job Cohen dusted off the time-tested comparison of European Muslims in the 21st century with European Jews in the 1930s.

Everybody remembers what was happening in 1939, right? All those Jews blowing up churches and train stations… demanding kosher food in schools… threatening anti-Semitic cartoonists with death… rioting and burning down German embassies…

Or am I perhaps confusing them with someone else?

The first translated article is from Elsevier:

Comparison of Muslims with Jews is incomprehensible

By Marlou Visser

The leader of the Dutch Labour Party [PvdA] Job Cohen calls the situation of Muslims in the Netherlands comparable to the situation of Jews in the early years of World War II. The Labour leader says this in an interview with [left-wing] opinion magazine Vrij Nederland.

In the interview Cohen talks about how his mother [in the early days of WWII] noticed that Jews were gradually being excluded, and that today he himself notices the same happening with Muslims. “Talk to Muslims and you’ll notice it. People are terrified because Wilders is in power now, and that he says simply that he’d rather have them being expelled from the country.” [something Wilders has never said — translator]

The chairman of the CIDI (Center Documentation and Information Israel), Ronny Naftaniel, finds Cohen’s remarks incomprehensible. “He compares the democratic society we have today with the situation in an occupied country. This is an equation that can not at all be taken seriously. I understand that he wants to touch on the subject of discrimination, but Cohen has other options to do that.”

Only recently Ronny Naftaniel had a discussion with Cohen on wrongly linking to the Second World War. “I thought he agreed that the war was not to be cited, as too hackneyed. I do not know if he realizes what he himself is saying here now,” Naftaniel said.

The PVV leader Geert Wilders finds Cohen to be completely lost. “Cohen’s comparison of Muslims now with the Jews in the Second World War is disgusting and too abject for words. Counteracting Islamization and cracking down, for instance, on criminal Moroccans, is cleaning up exactly the mess that was caused by the PvdA of Cohen, with pampering and dithering, tea-drinking [as Cohen used to do with imams to talk matters over — translator] and ‘keeping the bunch together’ [a well known expression of Cohen — translator],” Wilders replied to in a text message.

Cohen also says in the interview that the CDA [Christian Democrats] are only spreading the argumentation that the CDA and VVD did not want to govern with the PvdA because they are ashamed of their cooperation with the PVV. “It is nonsense that the Labour Party ever rejected cooperation. I always said: nobody needs to cooperate with the PVV.” Cohen is disappointed that a government of CDA and VVD emerged, supported by the PVV, but he does not at all reproach himself. “I did my best.”

A reply by Prof. Smalhout (who also publishes in De Telegraaf) in the Hyves blog:
Cohen, Muslims and Orthodox Jews

by Prof. B. Smalhout

The opinion magazine Vrij Nederland published a big interview with Job Cohen, the current leader of the Labour Party (PvdA). He was until recently the mayor of Amsterdam. Job Cohen says the Muslims in our country are being excluded, particularly by the PVV of Geert Wilders. To this, Job makes the comparison with the Jewish population in the years before World War II. In principle, Cohen states that “Muslims are the new Jews.” Of all the mistakes Cohen has made in recent years, this is by far the most painful one.

The PvdA leader himself is of Jewish descent, but was born after World War II (1947). He therefore has never personally witnessed how the European Jewish population in the 1930s were gradually stripped of all rights and finally, in the 1940s, were deported and murdered.


Unlike Cohen, I did witness it. I am from a Judeo-Christian-socialist background. As a child I grew up in the Transvaal neighborhood in the Eastern part of Amsterdam. That was a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in those days. There lived the people who in the early 20th century had left the poverty-stricken Jewish neighborhood in the heart of Amsterdam. They formed an educated class of specialized workers (such as diamond polishers), teachers, civil servants and small traders and shopkeepers.

They all read newspapers and were for that time very well-informed on what was happening abroad. In particular, they knew what was happening in Germany under the National Socialism of Hitler. But they felt safe there because they (quite wrongly) trusted the Dutch government. Soon the first German-Jewish refugees knocked on the door. I myself was then a little boy, but I will never forget the misery of the generally highly-educated refugees, who as peddlers with a poor briefcase tried to sell some pieces of soap or razors. Among them was a former Minister of Education, a concert pianist and a teacher of classical languages. My Christian mother, who spoke fluent German, often gave them something to eat and my Jewish father bought so many razors that I as a grown man was still able to shave for years with them.

When the German Nazis occupied the Netherlands, I saw how complete families with crying babies and children were chased from their homes and taken away with German trucks. The lively Transvaalbuurt became a kind of dead city where one could sometimes still see a set dining table in a living room and toys left on the floor. I witnessed how life of the Jewish population was gradually made impossible. In parks, gardens, swimming pools, cinemas, and theaters they were no longer allowed. Jewish children and Jewish teachers were dismissed from school. I talked with them. They were my schoolmates and my neighbors at the Transvaal Square.

With one exception, I never saw them again. Thirty years later, I visited Auschwitz. There I walked on sidewalks paved with their ashes. It crunched under my shoes. I only discovered that it was human ashes after I had picked up a little of it. I now keep that with great care in the desk at which I am writing this. So I still have the feeling that my murdered school friends and girlfriends are writing with me as they are dazed by the remark of Job Cohen that current Dutch Muslims are being discriminated against the same way they encountered back then.

Our pre-war Jewish community consisted of perfectly loyal Dutch people who worked hard and extensively contributed to our economy and our cultural and intellectual life. The concept of crime was not in their dictionary. By contrast, the Netherlands, and especially the large cities, nowadays face a plethora of Muslim immigrants who often do not adapt themselves well, or not at all, to our way of life. Their share in crime is extremely high and often of a violent kind.


The combination of a dark poncho, hood and scooter, is notorious. Their anti-Semitism is disgusting. Many native Dutch, and especially those of Amsterdam, have been harassed out of areas that are inhibited by North African immigrants. Job Cohen, in the years he was the mayor, did nothing against this.

He arranged even less for protection of Jewish Orthodox school children against the hooded scum. The Jewish community had to arrange, organize, and pay for all kinds of protection themselves. There never has been a Jew with us who robbed handbags, who raided jewelers and shot beleaguered shopkeepers, as happens regularly these days. The integration of Moroccan immigrants has proven to be a failure, with the exception of the Muslim girls. Who in general do well. One can see them everywhere as a secretary, a nurse, receptionist, dental assistant or student at a college or even university. It is their effective way to break free of a primitive desert culture that is suffocating for women.

The comparison of the Muslim immigrants to the Jewish population in the years before World War II is not only outrageous and stupid, it is — to use a Jewish expression — an absolute gotspe [chutzpah]. And with the last tiny bit of Jewish culture Cohen may still have, he will know that this is the superlative of a godforsaken brutality.

And another reply, from Elsevier:

What parallels with World War II, monseigneur Cohen?

by Liesbeth Wytzes

In the Christmas issue of Vrij Nederland, PvdA leader Job Cohen once again pulls an old comparison off the shelves. The Muslims are the Jews of today. Come on. When for a minute one does not know just what to do with the low position in the polls, luckily there is the Second World War!

The fact is that Cohen’s mother was in the audience during the famous lecture by the Leiden professor Cleveringa on November 26, 1940, when the Germans threatened to dismiss his Jewish colleagues.[1]


The fact that Cohen’s mother was present at that lecture, has been used by Cohen before to prove that the Jewish persecution shows a striking resemblance to the way Muslims are treated nowadays. My mother was there, he argues, so I am entitled to say this. In this way he uses a private memory of his mother — he was not even born then — for political reasons. With this he gambles with people’s sentiments. But, well, in politics seemingly everything is permitted. Facts don’t matter anymore.


Now I happen to be reading the book Berlin at War, by the British historian Roger Moorhouse. I can highly recommend it to Cohen. It is not a page turner, because you know how it will end, which certainly does not make it a pleasurable read. The book is an account of daily life in Berlin during the years 1939-1945, in which the net around the Jews and the non-Nazis is tightened ever further by means of terror, torture, brute force, intimidation, deportation etcetera, all well known. But there are many things that I did not yet know, and it’s very impressive to read — based on diaries and letters — how ordinary people in Berlin underwent that time of unimaginable terror.


And in nothing, nothing, but then really nothing, there is in any way a parallel to be discerned in the way Muslims are being treated today. In fact, I actually find it insulting towards the Jews of those days and of today, that Cohen says such things. Are Muslims being terrorized here? Are the lives they live being made impossible? Do they have to wear a distinctive symbol such as the Star of David? Are their names on death lists, are they being rounded up, are traitors reporting them, are their windows smashed, are there organized gangs chasing them with bats, are there shops or restaurants they are not allowed to enter?

Well, monseigneur Cohen, I do not think so. Instead, we adapted education, we arranged for neighborhood fathers [neighborhood patrol by elder Muslims], put community organizers and herds of welfare workers at work in the many neighborhoods they are needed, we’ve been kind and tolerant. Maybe it was not always completely convenient, but it was well-intentioned, and in my view there has not been a case of any intentional exclusion whatsoever.


And allow me to point out that Dutch gays and Dutch Jews are quite often harassed by Muslims. So if there already is mention of any aggression, it comes from the Muslim side. Yes, there are people who have built up some reservations regarding the ‘new Dutch’, and of course that is very annoying for many of those who actually like nothing better than leading a quiet life. But for those short fuses they have to fully blame themselves. Just look at the crime statistics

I don’t accept anyone telling me that we now live in a country that is in any whatever way comparable to Germany of around 1940. And certainly not by a hitherto unsuccessful politician. Anyone who says such things does not know his history, or gives an opportunistic twist to it. The first is stupid, the second is scandalous.


[1] Cleveringa was professor of commercial law and civil procedure law at the University of Leiden. Here he gave on November 26, 1940, a famous speech in which he protested against the dismissal of his teacher, supervisor and colleague Professor Eduard Maurits Meijers and other Jewish colleagues, by the German occupation authorities. Cleveringa was subsequently imprisoned. After the war Cleveringa and Meijers returned as a professor at the University of Leiden. In 1946 he acted as honorary supervisor in the granting of an honorary doctorate to Sir Winston Churchill in the Leiden St. Peter Church. On April 8, 1953, Cleveringa was rewarded by the U.S. government with the Medal of Freedom for his resistance work.
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