A bad situation – and a worse solution

From Ha’aretz:

A Dutch judge has ordered four teenagers to visit the Anne Frank House museum after finding them guilty of discrimination for insulting Jews at a rally.

The boys, aged 14 to 17, must turn in a report to the Hague Police Judge about their visit the canal house in Amsterdam where Anne Frank and her family hid from Nazi occupiers during World War II.

The four boys were convicted Friday for insulting Jews who were protesting Israel’s military attack on Gaza. Prosecutors say two boys held a banner with a swastika superimposed on the Star of David, and two shouted “Hamas, Hamas, all Jews to the gas.”

I’m sure I don’t need to explain that someone shouting “all Jews to the gas” is demonstrating a of hatred of Jews, not a love of Palestinians. Especially since they were shouting it at Jews who were protesting Israel.

But sending them to the Anne Frank house? Really? There are two problems with that. First off, their choice of words signals that they already know what happened in the Holocaust. I imagine their reaction to “Look, Jews actually died in those gas chambers!” would be, “Well, duh.” Secondly, the international community is already sick of us talking about the Holocaust all the time. Really. They’re desensitized. They don’t care. That doesn’t mean we’re wrong to talk about the Holocaust – and I do think that often, what others perceive as “talking about it all the time” is actually us trying to own and make sense of our history – but it does mean that it’s going to have zero effect on people who already hate us.

I mean, seriously, people who are engaged in hate speech are probably beyond sensitivity training. What outcome do the authorities hope to achieve? Is this a Dutch thing? Is it because the boys are minors? Is this the usual punishment for hate speech? I don’t know – but I really hope they’re not being extra lenient on the boys because they think Israel’s crimes justify anti-Semitism.


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