Jewish Leaders Spar Over Dutch Chief Rabbi Comments

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Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs at Westerbork Memorial Center on May 14, 2017. (Cnaan Liphshiz, via JTA.org)

By Cnaan Liphshiz

AMSTERDAM  — A Dutch Jewish leader said it sends “the wrong message” to tell leading Protestant churches that their recent acknowledgement of Holocaust guilt is “unnecessary.”

Ruben Vis, the director of Organization of Jewish Communities in the Netherlands, said a statement this week from Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs also marginalizes Holocaust victims who find such acknowledgments meaningful.

“It downplays a rather bold and absolutely necessary move that they have deliberated on for quite some time, and it’s counterproductive towards further progress,” Vis, who is also a board member of the Council of Jews, Christians and Muslims in the Netherlands, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.


The exchange comes after six Dutch Protestant churches this week publicly acknowledged their inaction during the Holocaust and their tolerance of the anti-Semitism that led to it. In response, Jacobs said that while he appreciates the gesture, such admissions are “unnecessary,” as “children needn’t profess their parents’ guilt or take responsibility for it.”

A spokesperson for Jacobs subsequently clarified that the rabbi was merely noting that the church leaders today are “personally blameless” for the Holocaust.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said Jacobs lacked the mandate to judge the necessity of any such admission. “He does not represent anyone in saying this,” Goldschmidt said.

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