In the face of rising anti-Semitism in the Netherlands, the members of one family are putting their necks on the line to show solidarity with the Jews of their country.
Theo Klopstra and Gerja Warners, who are not Jewish, say they and their daughter decided to wear Star of David necklaces in public because they are “ashamed of what is happening in their country.”
When Warners noticed the uptick in anti-Semitic events, she began to get angry. She told The Times of Israel that Jewish community members are removing the mezuzot from their doorposts and taking off their head coverings in public.
In the Netherlands, a usually accepting society, this type of open discrimination against a specific people made the Klopstra family furious. The Jews, said Warners, “have such an awful history of being hunted, abused, called names, and murdered just for being there.”
The Netherlands has seen a 23 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks since 2012, according to the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel or CIDI. In September, a Jewish man wearing a kippah was called a “cancer Jew” and almost run over by a man on a motorbike. Similar incidents, such as vandalism of Jewish sites and hateful Twitter posts, are also more frequent.
Lacking a local Jewish community, the Klopstra family bought their necklaces from a synagogue in the next town.
In the Netherlands, the Muslim community makes up 6% of the total population, second only to France’s 7.5%. Dutch supporters of the Islamic State (ISIL) marched in support of Gazan citizens and Hamas during this summer’s 50-day Gaza conflict.
“I must tell you that we are not some kind of reborn Christians with some strange affection for your country,” Klopstra told The Times of Israel. Instead, the family says it is concerned with changing a destructive and anti-Semitic narrative, pushed forward by the European media.
“If tomorrow some idiot says that Ebola is made by Israel lots of people would believe it,” said Klopstra.
By wearing their necklaces with pride and fielding questions from those who are curious, the Klopstra family hopes to increase tolerance for minorities in their community and help to combat rising anti-Semitic sentiment in their country.