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!
A terrible experience indeed! But still, I wonder if the teens in Switzerland, rude and unacceptable in their behaviour as they were, should be considered anti semites or just morons that would make fun of each and every person that looks different. If so, it doesn’t change the impact of the experience, it does change the context though.
Every summer many tourists from the Middel East come to Europe, especially to Germany, Austria en Switzerland. Indeed, from time to time you may notice there Orthodox Jews or Orthodox Muslims. The Muslim women wear a niqaab ( note that their husbands allways are in modern base ball outfit).
No adult European will ever laugh. Some are shocked at the sight of veiled women. Others feel pity with the teenagers in a Orthodox Jewish family who have nearly no other choice than to be Orthodox.
Then enter some ignorant and stupid Swiss teenagers on the stage. They laugh and mock. Unacceptable and rude. Now the blogger is shocked and uses difficult words.
Live and let live says the blogger.
Note that these words are directed only to us. No child or woman in an orthodox context will ever benefit from the words “let live”.
Dear John, the incident in Zurich is only a small a example to a larger phenomena that is taking place is many locations around the world. I don’t believe I really used difficult words. When you are a foreign in Europe and you see such behaviors it is scary and some times shocking. I have to disagree with your general assumption that orthodox peoples ( Muslims or Jews) have no other choice than to be orthodox. Why do you feel sorry for them? How do you know that this is not their choice? And this is exactly what I meant with “live and let live”. Don’t judge me and I don’t judge others, especially in the orthodox context each of us is free to live as we want. By the way, these orthodox people I saw were not tourists at all, they were local Jewish Swiss people who suffer for years from antisemitism and for mocking because the way they look. My words are directed to everybody who can read them, I don’t generalize or judge all the European citizens, I only write about something that should not be part of our world anymore, and this is the point of the blog and not few teens in Zurich.
I agree with you. It is always very disturbing and hurting to see people humiliate others just on their looks. I would like to underline though that these were youngsters who in all times and to all different looking people react nervous and degenerating. That in this case it were Orthodox Jews made more impression on you being Jewish yourself. The anti Jewish expressions from the Moslem youth in Europe stands in a totally different context than the hate towards the Jews of ages. You should know and not put it within the context of the Second World War. This hate comes from the harsh, cruel and long oppression of the Palestine and the frustrations because of Moslem hate they undergo everyday since 9-11. It is so obvious that is feels silly to write it down. So, although it is your own people, try to make more nuances or you end up in the same camp as the ones you criticize.
Dear Ronie, I am not sure if the children in an Orthodox Jewish family or the women in an Orhtodox Muslm famlily live so according their choice or not.
The keyword is here the “Veil of Ignorance” by John Rawls. It is a way of thinking on society as a social contract. To avoid an atmosphere of “discussion” I will leave this topic now to other contributors.