Rabbi Attacked by Muslim in Netherlands

By Reuvain Borchardt

Rabbi Aryeh Leib Heintz

A rabbi in the Netherlands who was assaulted by a Muslim asking why he was “dressed like a Jew,” tried running into a supermarket but was forbidden from taking a photo of his assailant or calling the police.

At 3:00 p.m. Friday, Rabbi Aryeh Leib Heintz, Chabad shliach in the city of Utrecht, was doing some Shabbos shopping when he was accosted by what he described in a Monday interview with Hamodia as “a Muslim Moroccan man, about 40, much younger, thinner and taller than me.”

“I was just walking with my shopping bags, and the guy comes up to me and says, ‘What are you doing here?’ Rabbi Heintz says. “I looked at him and shrugged my shoulders. Then he says, ‘What are you doing here dressed like a Jew?’ And he gave me a smack on top of my head. I was wearing my hat, Baruch Hashem, so that picked up some of the blow.”

The assailant began walking away, and Rabbi Heintz took out his phone to take a picture of him.

“But he started chasing me. I dropped my shopping bags and and started running away and screaming, ‘Police, police police.’ Probably 30 people heard me, but nobody did anything.”

Rabbi Heintz entered an Action supermarket, and the assailant began walking away again.

So he pulled out his phone again to take a photo and call the police.

That’s when, he says, the manager told him what felt almost as insulting as the slap he had received.

“She told me the company policy is nobody is allowed to take pictures in the store — and nobody is allowed to call the police from the store.”

Rabbi Heintz called the police emergency number anyway, “while in the background the manager kept screaming, ‘You’re not allowed to call.’”

Rabbi Heintz left the store to retrieve his shopping bags. He then returned to the store because “I wanted to tell the manager that she was wrong” — and standing there in the store he saw the man who had struck him minutes earlier.

The assailant went after Rabbi Heintz again.

“He pushed me with both hands. Two ladies, who were also Morrocan, tried holding him back, but he kept swinging and they received blows from him that he wanted to give to me.”

The assailant left the store, and Rabbi Heintz took his phone out again — whereupon the manager began berating him all over.

“She started screaming, ‘You’re not allowed to take pictures here or call the police. Leave the store and never come back.’”

Rabbi Heintz went to the local station and made his police report, then had to race to get home in time for Shabbos.

“What I didn’t tell police is how fast I had to drive,” he laughs. “And I walked into my house a minute before Shabbos.”

The story of the assault made local media, and the assailant soon turned himself in.

“He wanted a lower punishment,” Rabbi Heintz said. “If he had waited until they got him, it’s a higher punishment.”

According to Rabbi Heintz — who suffered head pain and has had difficulty sleeping, and is still not feeling well — the assailant was charged with assault and discrimination.

Action, a company with over 2,500 supermarkets in Europe, did not immediately respond to Hamodia’s request for comment Monday.

But according to Rabbi Heintz, the company confirmed to the Dutch newspaper Telegraaf that the manager’s actions had indeed been consistent with company policy of no photographs or calls to police allowed.

Rabbi Heintz says that like much of Europe and the world, the Netherlands has seen an increase in antisemitic attacks in recent years, with a sharp spike since Hamas’ 10/7 attack in Israel and the war in Gaza — both from the white native population as well as Muslim immigrants. The Dutch Parliament is currently considering a bill to double the penalty for hate crimes.

“The media reports are slanted against Israel,” Rabbi Heintz says. “Like they will say, ‘Israel struck a hospital,’ but won’t report that the hospital had more Hamas members than patients, doctors and nurses combined.”

In the 2023 elections, backlash to Muslim immigration led to the PVV, the party led by anti-Muslim politician Geert Wilders, won the most votes. While Wilders won’t get enough support to become prime minister, Rabbi Heintz says “the great majority of the parties that appear to become part of the coalition are fairly pro-Jewish.”

A number of Dutch cities have recently agreed to pay compensation to the Jewish community for their collaboration with the Nazis and confiscation of Jewish homes, Rabbi Heintz says — including Utrecht, which will give 300,000 euros to Jewish organizations.

Utrecht, 25 miles south of south of Amsterdam, has a population of 300,000. According to Rabbi Heintz, there are approximately 1,000 Jews in the city. In addition to his Chabad House, there is a Modern Orthodox shul and a Reform temple.

A Houston native, Rabbi Heintz was shliach in Albany, N.Y., for two years before becoming shliach to Utrecht in 1987.


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