Subproject 1: The 'Dutch Dutch'
Evelien Gans submitted and leads this research proposal. Her project concerns the ‘Dutch Dutch’, meaning roughly the majority group: those Dutch who are (or were originally) Christian, and secular, and who identify with and see themselves as representative of what is considered to be the dominant, mainstream (‘Dutch’) history, culture and heritage (constantly moving as those elements may be). Gans’ point of departure is the images and stereotypes of Jews which developed in the Netherlands over the course of centuries, in different historical contexts, until the end of World War Two in 1945.
Shoah and Israel
Her actual research starts in the postwar period, when the mass murder of the European Jews had already taken place but the founding of a Jewish state lay yet ahead. Both – the Shoah (Holocaust) and Israel – appear to be equally important points of connection for postwar (Dutch) antisemitism and also functioned as building blocks in postwar (Dutch) Jewish identity.
‘Dutch Dutch’ antisemitism / anti-Jewish feelings and stereotypes
Focusing on the ‘Dutch Dutch’ leads to studying, among others, the following forms of antisemitism and anti-Jewish feelings and stereotypes :
1. Secondary antisemitism, per definition a post-Holocaust phenomenon. It turns the (memory of the) Shoah against the Jews, both in the public debate and the private domain (‘The Jews are monopolizing suffering’) and in historiography (relativising the Shoah; a disproportionate emphasis on Jewish collaboration et al);
2. Holocaust denial – the most extreme form of secondary antisemitism. In its absolute version originally, and still a phenomenon among the extreme right, there is also a lighter form seen in the appearance of widespread trivialization, especially on Internet;
3. Demonization of Israel, the ‘fatal triangle’ of antisemitism, antizionism and criticism of Israel: when does criticism degenerate into antisemitism? (‘Hitler was a nice man compared to the Jews in Israel’);
4. Football antisemitism (or a provocative form of football rivalry?), starting in the 1980’s (‘We’re going Jew-hunting’/ Hamas Hamas all Jews to the gas’);
5. Anti-Judaism, such as represented in the reactions to Mel Gibson’s controversial film The Passion of the Christ, and in other relics of the image of the Jew as (Christ) murderer;
6. Secular and populist feelings of superiority and the stereotypes of the primitive and bloodthirsty Jew as manifested in, for example, the pursuit of a ban on ritual slaughter.
Philosemitism and anti-antisemitism
Gans approaches Jews not only as targets of antisemitism, but also as ‘objects of idealisation’ and as ‘active players in the field’. For this reason, she also explores:
7. Philosemitism and anti-antisemitism. Philosemitism as unconditional sympathy for Jews, and in that sense the mirror image of antisemitism: Jews are valued or even glorified (instead of despised, envied or hated) for the mere fact that they are Jews. Anti-antisemitism as a phenomenon which turns the struggle (initiated by Jews and by Gentiles too) against antisemitism into an aim in and of itself, into an ideology which is instrumentalised – for example as a weapon in defence of Israel or against Islam. The populist anti-Islam Partij van de Vrijheid (Party of Freedom; PVV) fits into this pattern.
Regarding the themes listed above, the aim is both to make transparent what is ‘real, existing’ antisemitism, and to get to the bottom of the debate on antisemitism. Which old and new stereotypes of Jews are relevant, and in which context? What manifestations of antisemitism can be distinguished? What needs are met by availing oneself of the (mostly negative) image of ‘the Jew’ as an explanation of certain (often frustrating and threatening) events and developments? When and why is antisemitism being instrumentilised and blown out of proportion, or denied, trivialised and ignored? And finally: which images and stereotypes of Jews are specific to ‘Dutch Dutch’; and where do these cross, confirm, affect and/or negate those of other population groups – and vice versa?
The research will base itself on primary and secondary literature, archival documentation, ‘old’ and ‘new’ media, and a limited number of specific interviews.