Wednesday, 11 November 2015

It's the contex, stupid

Analysis is always dependent on context. You change the context, you get a different analysis. The recent Kristallnacht “commemorations”  in Amsterdam are a good example.
The relevant facts.

On Sunday there was the speech of Haneen Zoabi. She had been invited by a so-called anti-racist "platform" that has broad support in Dutch society. The specific persecution of Jews was secondary in her speech.
Her primary goal was the delegitimization of Israel. For her, Israel and Israelis were barbaric, the modern equivalent of the Nazis. Her speech was a tirade of hate, filled with lies and half-truths.

On Monday, Ahmed Aboutaleb, the mayor of Rotterdam, held a dignified speech at the official Kristallnacht commemoration. The persecution of Jews was central in his speech. He also referred to the atrocities of IS as modern day forms of barbarism.

The first context is the battle of the commemorations.
This places the two speeches at opposite ends of the spectrum. For many Dutch Jews, Aboutaleb’s speech was a breath of fresh air. He gave them their commemoration back.

The second context is the delegitimization and demonization of Israel and Israelis.
Some statistics. According to an ADL global poll, 5% of the Dutch population are overtly anti-Semitic. According to research of the University of Bielefeld, 39% of the Dutch population believe that Israel is trying to exterminate the Palestinians. This research took place before the last Gaza war.

All available data supports the contention that many in the Netherlands agree with Zoabi’s tirade against Israel. Many more than the number of overt anti-Semites.
Therefore, for these people the two speeches were not the opposite of each other, they were complementary. They also believe that the Holocaust was barbaric. For them, Israel and IS are the two prime examples of modern day barbarism.
Recent statements from Aboutaleb reinforce this conclusion. His argument against anti-Semitism in the Netherlands is: you cannot blame Dutch Jews for what Israel does, just like you cannot blame Dutch Muslims for what IS does.

Zoabi's speech was controversial. Both Israel-lovers and Israel-haters applauded Aboutaleb's speech.
For the Dutch mainstream the two speeches were complementary and as such reinforced the rising delegitimization and demonization of Israel in the Netherlands. 

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