Dutch Police Arrest 154 Soccer Fans Over Antisemitic Chants

It’s time for that to end, said Ms. Mestrum. “Ajax doesn’t have anything to do with Jews anymore,” she said. But, she added, soccer rivalries and the abuse that goes with them have had an effect on how Jewish people are perceived in society.

“People’s awareness continues to decline,” Ms. Mestrum said. “I’m especially worried about a lack of historical awareness and the seriousness of antisemitism.”

Saturday’s arrests came two days after the Netherlands’ national day of remembrance, which commemorates Dutch victims of war, including those who were killed during the Holocaust and World War II as a whole.

“On May 4, we remember the victims of war, including 102,000 fellow citizens who were deported to gas chambers,” Ms. Mestrum said. These chants “show a total lack of awareness by the fans.”

In December 2022, the Dutch government announced a plan to combat antisemitism in the Netherlands to show that the country takes the problem seriously.

Antisemitic incidents are on the rise in the Netherlands, said Ms. Mestrum, whose organization logged 183 cases excluding online abuse in 2021, a 36 percent increase compared to the year before. The country has roughly 30,000 Jewish people, according to the World Jewish Congress, out of a population of 17 million, with the community concentrated in Amsterdam.

In the United States, the number of antisemitic incidents in 2022 was the highest since the Anti-Defamation League began keeping track in 1979, the Jewish advocacy group said.

Even outside soccer, racist and antisemitic slogans have become a growing problem in the Netherlands. Over New Year’s, white supremacist phrases — including “happy white 2023” — were projected on a bridge in Rotterdam. In February, antisemitic phrases based on a conspiracy theory were projected onto the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.