Dutch police go undercover as Jews to bust anti-Semites

When hate crimes strike the Dutch capital, the police officers head to the costume store. Amsterdam's law enforcement regularly disguises themselves as members of a persecuted faction, patrols the streets incognito, and then arrests any violent perpetrators they encounter. In response to a spike in muggings, officers posed as pensioners and "grannies"; to combat harassment of the homosexual community, officers of the same sex acted affectionate in public. Now Dutch police will go undercover again -- this time with the earlocks and black top-hats of ultra-orthodox Jews.

Proposed by a Dutch Muslim legislator, the new James Bond-like approach to fighting anti-Semitism comes in the wake of a sharp rise in anti-Semitic attacks, reportedly instigated most frequently by Moroccan immigrants. The Jewish population in the city, numbering at 40,000, has indeed seen these attacks double from 2008 to 2009 - an increase attributed in large part to the Gaza Strip military offensive in January of 2009. Reported incidents range from punishable internet hate speech in the region to verbal tormenting and severe physical assaults on the streets.  This past weekend, a Jewish broadcasting company followed a skullcap-donning rabbi through city streets with a candid camera; the footage revealed many young men shouting ethnic slurs at the rabbi and gesturing with Nazi salutes as he passed by.

A debate persists in the city over whether the police force's proposed clandestine operations are really capable of tackling the underlying prejudice festering in Amsterdam, or whether they merely reify superficial stereotypes and circumvent the rudimentary issues at stake. Many -- the former city mayor among them -- argue that awareness and education is the expedient solution. Either way, with the Jewish community suffering the brunt of mounting violence in Amsterdam, it probably couldn't hurt for an otherwise oblivious citizen to walk a mile in a rabbi's kippah - even if just while on patrol.

Ian Waldie/Getty Images


Afghanistan loves General McChrystal. Eikenberry? Not so much.

File this under "statements that aren't helpful." Here's Afghan government spokesman Waheed Omar weighing in on the Stanley McChrystal flap:

The president believes that Gen. McChrystal is the best commander that NATO and coalition forces have had in Afghanistan over the past nine years."

That's a nice compliment for McChrystal, but it's also a back-handed slap at Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, who commanded the U.S.-led efforts in Afghanistan for 18 months in 2006 and 2007.

Eikenberry the current U.S. ambassador in Kabul, isn't impressed with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and said as much in a leaked memo that made McChrystal furious. In the Rolling Stone article, McChrystal says he felt "betrayed" by the memo, and accuses Eikenberry of "cover[ing] his flank for the history books." Omar's comments probably won't help the two men get along.