Dutch rabbi resigns after drawing parallels between Covid measures and Nazism
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

 Dutch rabbi resigns after drawing parallels between Covid measures and Nazism

Tamarah Benima, 71, left the Dutch Union for Progressive Judaism after saying 'what happened in Nazi Germany is a warning to me' when it came to restrictions

Rabbi Tamarah Benima (Malin G. Kundi/Wikimedia Commons via JTA)
Rabbi Tamarah Benima (Malin G. Kundi/Wikimedia Commons via JTA)

A prominent Reform rabbi in the Netherlands who drew parallels between her country’s COVID-19 safety measures and Nazi practices resigned from her rabbinical council following an outcry.

Tamarah Benima, 71, left the Dutch Union for Progressive Judaism on Nov. 9, the rabbinical council of the umbrella group wrote in a statement.

Benima drew sharp rebuke from several of the country’s major Jewish organisations over a speech she delivered last month in the northern Dutch city of Leeuwarden.

Those involved in enforcing COVID-19 public health measures “have the best intentions,” Benima said. “But as a Jew, what happened in Nazi Germany is a warning to me. Those in power all had the best of intentions. Also when they declared Jews a danger to ‘public health.’ Also when they declared a war against the ‘virus’ of those times. So don’t play with fire by setting aside people in our society as ‘a danger to public health,’ as Health Minister Hugo De Jonge regularly does.”

De Jonge has warned that downplaying the dangers of the COVID-19 virus, as well as a right-wing party’s forum for criticising the government’s policies on COVID-19, have jeopardised public health.

Yvonne Walvisch-Stokvis, the chairwoman of the Dutch Union for Progressive Judaism, criticised Benima in a statement for what she called “a misplaced comparison between the annihilation of people for who they were and the position of anti-vaccination people today.”

In an email to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Benima insisted that she “never mentioned the COVID-policy of the Dutch government with a word” and that this impression owed to “journalistic misrepresentations.“

“I spoke out against totalitarian speech and thinking. I spoke out against the new totalitarian ideology Woke, that endangers Jews and non-Jews alike,” she added.

Benima told the De Telegraaf daily that many people have written her to express their support and gratitude for her comments, and said some have called her a hero.

Comparisons between COVID-19 public health measures and Nazism have proliferated in recent months throughout Europe and beyond. The wearing of yellow stars at protests against COVID-19 measures in Europe specifically has drawn sharp condemnations by Jewish groups.

Following the lead of other European countries, the Netherlands issued an emergency in September that requires that patrons of restaurants and other businesses present a proof of vaccination.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments