Coppers in kippas: Dutch MP's idea to tackle attacks on Jews
Having in the past pretended to be gay or elderly in order to lure criminals into the open, Dutch police may soon walk Amsterdam's streets wearing skullcaps in a bid to counter attacks on Jews.
The proposal for officers to dress up as civilians and don a kippa was put forward by a Muslim MP and has been well-received by Jewish community leaders and other politicians, and even the justice minister is not opposed.
"The idea is for a police officer to pass themselves off as a Jew," MP Ahmed Marcouch, who was born in Morocco, told AFP. "They wear a kippa and go to a neighbourhood where Jews are often insulted or beaten up."
According to Marcouch, who lives in a suburb made up mostly of immigrants, too many anti-Semitic acts are unpunished due to a lack of proof or witnesses.
"If it's a police officer instead of a Jew, the delinquent is caught red handed and goes straight to the police station," he said.
Of the 45,000 Jews living in the Netherlands, 25,000 live in Amsterdam where the city's interim mayor Lodewijk Asscher is in favour of the idea. The mayor "wants Amsterdam to remain a tolerant city," said his spokesman Bertho Boer.
"It's not only a good idea, it's a necessity," rabbi Raphael Evers from the Federation of Netherlands Jewish Communities told AFP. "Regularly people shout 'Death to the Jews!' behind my back."
In 2009, the Dutch Centre for Information and Documentation about Israel (CIDI) counted 167 incidents of insults, physical violence and attacks on synagogues in the Netherlands compared to 108 in 2008.
Elise Friedmann, a researcher at the CIDI, says that anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise, although difficult to quantify, and are linked to Israel's policies in the Middle East.
"In January 2009 Israel attacked Gaza and we counted 98 incidents in the Netherlands, almost as much as in the whole of 2008," she said.
Justice Minister Hirsch Ballin "thinks that this method is not in contradiction with the law and is therefore a possible option," his spokesman Wim van der Weegen said.
"The minister has promised that in coming months a concrete programme will be presented by the government to fight anti-Semitism and discrimination," he added.
But the minister's office stressed that were kippa-wearing police to be deployed, it would have to be decided by prosecutors on a case-by-case basis.
"One thing is certain, we'll never send a police officer wearing a kippa anywhere just to see what might happen," Amsterdam prosecutor's spokesman Franklin Wattimena told AFP.
"However, if we know that in a specific district, a certain group of people is insulting or hitting Jews, we could think about sending someone to try to question them," he said.
In the past, Dutch police officers have pretended to be gay in order to catch a man who contacted homosexuals over the Internet and robbed them later, and also masqueraded as an elderly lady to ensnare a thief who preyed on the aged.
© 2010 AFP