AP: Dutch to use "decoy Jews" to fight harassment


From the Associated Press. AMSTERDAM -- Reports of increased anti-Semitism and a secret video showing Jews harassed on the street in Amsterdam have prompted Dutch authorities to consider using "decoy Jews" - undercover officers wearing yarmulkes - to combat hate crimes.

No decision has yet been made to use the tactic. But the country's justice minister and Amsterdam's acting mayor both say they are considering it. And advocacy groups say intimidation has become a serious issue for Jews in the Netherlands.

"For ten years now Jews who are recognizable as such from their clothing can't walk peacefully on the street," the Center for Information and Documentation Israel, a Jewish activist group, said in a statement Friday. "The perpetrators of this kind of incident almost always get away unpunished."

The issue was given new impetus with the airing on television last week of a hidden-camera video produced by Joodse Omroep, or Jewish Broadcaster - a small television company that gets an allotted amount of airtime each week on public TV stations.

For the video, two youths and a Rabbi wearing yarmulkes went walking in a primarily Moroccan neighborhood in Amsterdam. The footage showed them being subjected to a range of ill-treatment, from dirty looks to insults - and even, from one man, a Nazi salute.

Dutch Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin said Thursday that decoys are sometimes used to lure hard-to-catch criminals, like rapists, and could have some use in combating hate crimes against homosexuals and Jews.

In response to questions from parliament, Hirsch Ballin said he would put together a program devoting more resources to investigating such incidents, as well as to more education in schools and a quicker legal process for discrimination-linked cases.

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