Dutch Prosecutor Drops Charges Against Muslim Man Accused of Assaulting Rabbi

By Reuvain Borchardt

The location of the incident at a shopping center in Utrecht. (Google Maps)

Dutch prosecutors have dismissed a case against a Muslim man accused of assaulting a rabbi while making antisemitic statements, saying they did not have evidence of a crime, but the rabbi is considering legal action to force a prosecution, saying it is necessary both for his own justice and to set an example of the need for the criminal-justice system to protect Jews.

“Many of these cases are never prosecuted, and antisemitism in the Netherlands is increasing,” the victim, Rabbi Aryeh Leib Heintz, told Hamodia.

On Friday, March 29, Rabbi Heintz, Chabad shliach in the city of Utrecht, was doing some Shabbos shopping when he was accosted by what he described to Hamodia as “a Muslim Moroccan man, about 40.”

“I was just walking with my shopping bags, and the guy comes up to me and says, ‘What are you doing here?’” Rabbi Heintz told Hamodia shortly after the incident. “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.”

Rabbi Heintz took out his phone to take a picture of the assailant, who then began chasing him. The rabbi entered an Action supermarket, and the assailant left.

Later, the rabbi returned to the Action supermarket — and there he saw the assailant, who, he said, went after him again.

“He pushed me with both hands,” Rabbi Heintz said. “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.”

To add insult to injury, Rabbi Heintz said, he was berated by the manager at Action for taking out his phone to photograph the assailant and for calling the police from the store, which she said violated their company policy.

The story of the alleged assault made local media, and the Muslim man turned himself into police. According to Rabbi Heintz, the suspect was initially charged with assault and discrimination.

However, the Public Prosecution Service has declined to prosecute the man, citing a lack of evidence.

The rabbi’s lawyer, Herman Loonstein, told Hamodia on Thursday that the suspect told prosecutors he did not made antisemitic statements or strike the rabbi; he merely tapped his hat.

The suspect’s purported reason for confronting the rabbi and tapping his hat was that he saw “that there were two women in Muslim clothing walking on the street, and Rabbi Heintz walked away from them,” Loonstein says.

“That’s a bunch of nonsense,” Rabbi Heintz told Hamodia on Thursday. “That’s absolutely not true. I don’t remember who was walking on that street or what they were wearing. I don’t know anything about it at all. It’s complete nonsense.”

The cameras outside the supermarket were not working and did not capture the incident.

Loonstein says he did not get a clear answer from the prosecutor as to why no charges were filed for the subsequent incident inside the supermarket, but said he plans to go to the prosecutor’s office to review the documents.

In the Netherlands, a victim may appeals the prosecutor’s decision to drop a case. The rabbi and his attorney say they are considering bringing this “Article 12” filing to force prosecution — both for their own case, and for what they see as a larger problem of lack of prosecution in the Netherlands.

“My son had a similar case around 20 years ago,” Rabbi Heintz says. “He was attacked at a gas station by a man saying things about bin Laden. We filed Article 12 and we were able to force a prosecution.”

The Netherlands, like much of Europe and the rest of the world, has seen an increase in antisemitic incidents since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, 2023.

“Lack of prosecution is a big problem here in the Netherlands,” says Rabbi Heintz, a Houston native who became shliach to Utrecht in 1987. “I don’t know if it’s antisemitism or just a liberal criminal-justice system or if the prosecutor’s office has too much work. What I do know is that many of these cases are never prosecuted, and antisemitism in the Netherlands is increasing.

“Just a few days ago, two Dutch women shouting ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ threw red paint on the wife of an Israeli. But she said she is too afraid to report the incident to the police.”

Loonstein says he wants prosecutors in the Netherlands to be more aggressive in pursuing antisemitic crimes. 

“The problem in the Netherlands is that prosecutors and police are not very serious about prosecuting antisemitic incidents,” he says. “They don’t have any experience with it; for them it’s new. If they don’t find evidence, they drop the case too quickly; they see it as a standard case. But they have to do more to protect the Jews, especially these days.”

The Public Prosecution Service said in a statement reported by Telegraaf, “The investigation has not provided any legal and convincing evidence of abuse.”

“That is not to say that the situation could not be considered unpleasant, undesirable or indecent,” the statement continued. “However, that is not something that is up to the Public Prosecution Service to judge. The task of the Public Prosecution Service is limited to detecting and prosecuting criminal offenses laid down by law.”


To Read The Full Story

Are you already a subscriber?
Click to log in!