The city of Amsterdam will give its Jewish community $11 million as compensation for taxes imposed on Holocaust survivors who returned home to the Dutch capital following World War II.
Upon their return, according to an article in The Telegraph on Monday, the survivors were made to pay a tax because their homes were left empty during the Holocaust. They also had to pay back taxes for the years they had been taken away from the city, as well as insurance fees.
The taxes were discovered by a student in 2013, and that year, Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan said the city should “put it right,” according to The Telegraph. On Friday, the city said it would pay the $11 million — an estimate of the total taxes paid by survivors following the war.
“Amsterdam has 5 million to 10 million euros in its coffers that it doesn’t want, and we have no right to it, so we want to give it back to the Jewish community to be used for important projects,” a spokesman for the mayor said, according to the Telegraph. “Finding the individual people or their relatives would be very costly and complex, and that is not the idea.”
The city has suggested the money be put toward a Holocaust memorial monument or community programs.
With members of the London Stamford Hill Charedi community being priced out of the area, some are now trying to snap up houses on Canvey Island, Essex.
The site of the former Castle View School on the Island will be transformed into a private Jewish school, Essex County Council has confirmed.
The Charedi community, is understood to have paid £1.75million for the former school building, which closed five years ago, and its attached playing fields.
Residents living around the site have started to experience members of the community knocking on their doors offering to pay above the market price for their houses, despite them not being up for sale.
AntiSemitismWatch has already taken the step of sending messages into the Stamford Hill community in an attempt that the experiences of the Orthodox Jewish community in Lakewood, USA are considered in how the Canvey Island experiment is proceeded with.
Toms River, a neighbouring community to Lakewood, took the step of implementing a law aimed at putting an end to what many of its residents and leaders labeled overly aggressive tactics by realtors.
Some observers suggested the measure was part of a campaign to block an increasing migration by members of the Lakewood community.
Tensions also simmered over comments made by Toms River Mayor, Thomas Kelaher. In an interview with Bloomberg News Service regarding the recent influx and his town’s reaction to it, Kelaher was quoted as saying, “It’s like an invasion. It’s the old throwback to the 1960s, when blockbusting happened in Philadelphia and Chicago with the African-American community — ‘I want to buy your house. You’ll be sorry if you don’t [sell it to me].”
In the wake of its publication, Lakewood Mayor Menashe Miller penned an open letter expressing deep offense over the use of the term “invasion,” which he said implied a takeover by a malicious group, and demanded an apology.
The intervention of AntiSemitismWatch comes after Joel Friedman, who works for the Interlink Foundation, a charity representing the community, confirmed half-a-dozen families have already bought houses on the Essex island.
One islander living near the proposed school site, who did not want to be named, told The Echo her family received a visit on Sunday afternoon from a groups of people interested in buying their home.
She said: “I was quite surprised really as they just started asking about house prices in the area, and whether we would be willing to sell ours.
“They were very polite, but it was just a bit random really. I’ve seen them knock on quite a few houses in our area over the past couple of weeks.
“I don’t think we’re ready to sell just yet, but I think it’s interesting they are so keen to move here.”
Dave Blackwell, leader of the Canvey Independent Party, said he is pleased the former Castle View site is becoming a school instead of housing.
He said: “From what I am hearing quite a few houses have already been bought and they are looking to create a large community here.
“I think it’s a good thing and particularly as the rest of that school site will actually get used and it won’t become housing as set out in the local plan.
“I have to say, I am not sure why Canvey has been chosen, as it’s not the easiest place to reach.”
The former Castle View site had originally been earmarked for 50 new homes, but developers pulled out of the school due to flood concerns.
The situation in Toms River has led representatives of the Chabad Jewish Center to file a law suit in federal court against Toms River and its Zoning Board of Adjustment. The legal move came after a refusal to allow small weekly prayer services in Rabbi Moshe Gourarie’s Toms River home.
The refusal was alleged to be a civil rights violation spurred by, “A rising tide of anti-Semitism among the Toms River government and population, fearful that the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community located in adjacent Lakewood Township will extend into Toms River,” the complaint suggested.
It also cited the statement by Mayor Kelaher and an antiSemitic act whereby the words “Burn the Jews” were carved into playground equipment at the nearby Riverwood Park.
The complaint further cited a number of statements made in various places on social media “regarding the Chabad and ultra-Orthodox Jews describing them as “cockroaches,” “trash,” a “cult,” “he-brews and she-brews,” a “Jewish conspiracy,” “disgusting phonies,” a “joo school,” “damn jews,” “dirty,” and a “disease.”
“Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.”
The decision by the newly elected London Mayor Sadiq Khan, to attend a Yom Hashoah commemoration event as his first public engagement was met with anger by some Twitter users, who responded with virulently anti-Israel and anti-Semitic comments as well as Holocaust denial.
After the event, Khan tweeted, “So important to reflect, remember and educate about the 6 million Jewish lives lost in the Holocaust.”
As of Monday evening, the post had been widely ‘liked’ and shared. However, there were other responses which were not so kind and included blatant Holocaust denial, including a comment that “much of the so-called ‘holocaust’ has been faked, including the post-1945 Auschwitz construction,” suggesting that much of the Auschwitz site was built after World War II.
Others responded with the usual anti-Semitic conflation between supporting Israel and the “Jewish lobby”.
While another Twitter user was more blatant in their hatred, despicably suggesting on Yom Hashoah, “Like who cares about Jewish suffering!”.
Another commentator wrote, “Have you plucked that figure of 6 [million] out of thin air? What was the total population of Jews in 1940? Don’t distort history. Max 1 [million].”
Khan received a warm welcome from London’s Jewish community at the end of Sunday’s Yom Hashoah ceremony, which brought together thousands from London’s Jewish community, including more than 150 Holocaust survivors and a combined choir from five Jewish elementary schools.
Now it has happened to one of their own, perhaps Labour will now start to properly comprehend the reality of anti-Semitism in society and, therefore, take the necessary action to address it within their own party?
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