The Dutch railways company has apologized after employees sang a “wholly inappropriate” football chant on Jews in an inter-city train.
The incident took place last Saturday aboard a train carrying passengers returning to Rotterdam from a carnival in the southern city of Tilburg.
After having been alerted by a passenger, Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) said in a statement: “Let it be clear: we find this completely inappropriate.’’
The song was “Waar komen Joden toch vandaan“, which translates to “Where do Jews come from”. The song is regularly sung in Amsterdam by supporters of the football club Ajax who use “Jews” as a nickname.
The Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI), which acts as Dutch Jews’ watchdog on antisemitism, said: “This is another example that we are far from tolerance and forbearance towards Jews in the Netherlands. I find it embarrassing and stupid that this has occurred on an NS train. We cannot accept this.”
CIDI also called on Dutch Railways to distance itself more strongly from the incident, calling on the state-owned firm to “make it clear to everyone that such songs do not belong in a public space.”
Last year, state-owned Nederlandse Spoorwegen announced that it planned to make individual compensation payments to Holocaust survivors and relatives.
An estimated 100,000 Dutch Jews — or 70% of the total number of Jewish people living in the Netherlands before World War II — were deported on the trains to Westerbork, in the north of the country. From there the Nazis transported them east across the border into Germany and to the death camps.
CIDI recently issued a report showing that 2019 was a record year in the number of antisemitic incidents in the country.