I saw a group of teenagers who noticed a Jewish family passing by, and then they started to point their fingers at them and laugh like they just heard the greatest joke of their lives.

I couldn’t believe what my eyes have just seen, and for few seconds I was in complete shock. I thought to myself that I might have exaggerated in my reaction, but after a few seconds of watching those teens, there was no doubt left in my mind. Those young Swiss teenagers behaved in an ugly, brutal and rude way towards some people they have never seen in their lives before, only because they have a different appearance.

Why does our look matter so much? Why do we judge people by their appearance? What difference does it make if someone has a different look from what we see normally? I must say that for me personally, this experience was really shocking, and it didn’t leave my head yet. I was thinking to myself what would happen if the people out there in the Dutch streets would somehow recognize where I am from – that I’m Jewish, what would happen to me? This thought is really scary.

Now, a few days later I see and read everywhere about the saga in The Hague about the police who advised the local Jewish people not to build a Sukka this year since it can cause violent reactions and behaviour from the Muslim local people. In my opinion this situation is surreal!

On the one hand I am thinking to myself that if I lived in an area that is known for being not so ´Jewish friendly´ I wouldn’t want to draw any attention to myself and definitely not to risk my family and my security. But on the other hand, the Netherlands is a free and democratic country, where each one of us is allowed to have the freedom of practicing and expressing his religion.

Lately, these kinds of situations make me feel more and more like we are back in the late 19th century, a time when the anti-Semitism was very common around Europe. How come these phenomena like anti-Semitism, racism, ‘islamaphobia’ still exist today? I feel very sad that we all still need to hear, to read and also to write about it. Didn’t we learn anything from history?

In order to finish this blog in an optimistic way, I would like to recommend all of you to go and watch the new play in the Amsterdam theatre – ‘Anne’ about Anne Frank. Even though most of us already know the story, I think it’s a good time to see this play and to hear the story again. Precisely now days, when these phenomena I mentioned above are still part of our world, unfortunately. I find the play to be very special – especially the decorations and the display of the stage, and all of the effects. It seems that in every little detail they put a lot of thoughts and efforts! Moreover, the actors were wonderful and professional.

It is a great way to remember what happened here in the streets of Amsterdam not so many years ago. It is also a reminder to all of us, what can be the result of hate with no reason. I don’t need to explain why this is dangerous and why we can’t let it happen again! Stop with the blind hate and stop judging others only by their looks and beliefs. Live and let live!


Ronie Barel

verhuisde van Israël naar Nederland, activist, blogger

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