Young Dutch Muslims against Zionism, not Judaism

Young Muslims in the Netherlands do not have much against Jewish people themselves. But they are emphatically against Zionism.

This is according to a study done by the Verwey-Joncker Institute and the Anne Frank Foundation, that Minister Lodewijk Asscher of Social Affairs sent to the Tweede Kamer, newspaper Trouw reports. This is a followup study to the one Asscher presented in June. That study showed that 12 percent of Muslim youths between the ages of 15 and 23 years are "not so positive" about Jews in the Netherlands. Compared to their Christian and non-religious peers, of which 2 percent were "not so positive", that is on the high side.

The study, titled Further study images of young Muslims about Zionists and Jews, rely on extensive interviews with 12 young Muslims and online qualitative research with 102 fellow believers.

The study showed that the young Muslims see Jews and Zionists as more or less different groups. In their eyes, Jews are simply believers of another faith. But Zionists are seen to be "extremists" who want the State of Israel to be larger and more powerful, even at the expense of innocent civilians. There may be overlap, but it should not be overestimated. Only a small part of Jews are Zionists, and not all Zionists are Jews.

The study clearly shows that a large majority of the Muslim young people are very negative toward Zionists. "Zionists are the bad guys and they are against Muslims", one youth said in the report, according to the newspaper. "They are not the same as Jews. Jews are people who believe in Judaism but that need not be Zionists. Zionists peck land from the Palestinians and murder innocent people and children." They see the ideology of Zionism as more than only the pursuit of a Jewish state and support for the existence of Israel. The Muslim youths see Zionism as something more aggressive, describing it as "warlike" and "bloodthirsty".

According to the study, these negative ideas are "very significantly linked to the negative images that young people have about the Israel-Palestine conflict". Many of the interviewed young people indicated that they see images of the conflict through media and social media. Images including destruction of war, children falling victim and Palestinians' homes being destroyed.

The Ministry of Social Affairs does not see this study as representative, but as a nice addition to the June study. "Together these studies give a better understanding of the conflict in the Middle East as a breeding ground for antisemitism in the Netherlands", Asscher wrote in his letter to the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament.