The European Jewish Congress expresses its profound dismay at the decision by the Free University of Brussels (ULB) to grant an honorary doctorate to Ken Loach.

“This decision is unjustified because Ken Loach is not honourable, it is counter-productive because this decision is highly divisive, and it is morally wrong because it ignores legitimate calls from a wide range of civil society actors,” said EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor.

Both the EJC’s Belgian and UK affiliates, through their presidents Yohan Benizri and Jonathan Arkush, have urged the university to reconsider this decision by explaining several times that Mr Loach’s actions are incompatible with his words and with the values that the university seeks to promote.

They have pointed out that “given the complex situation in the United Kingdom concerning the rise of antisemitism in the Labour Party, honouring Mr Loach would be unreasonable, detrimental and frankly shameful.”

Not only has Mr. Loach constantly undermined efforts to combat antisemitism in the UK, he has consciously and repeatedly shown contempt for free speech and democracy: From the time he assisted in the production of the play Perdition, which spread the Stalinist lie that the Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazis in World War II, up to last week, when he called for MPs to be purged from the Labour Party for attending a protest against antisemitism.

Ken Loach has been claiming not to be an antisemite and not to deny the Holocaust. Yet he has accused Jews in his own party on multiple occasions of inventing antisemitic incidents for political purposes.

“The insidious claim that Jews fabricate their own oppression for personal gain is in itself an antisemitic conspiracy theory that is sadly prevalent in political discourse today”, said Dr. Moshe Kantor, “the Free University of Brussels offers Ken Loach a certificate of honourability at the worst possible time.”

“The decision to grant Mr. Loach an honorary doctorate brings disgrace on the values of independent reasoning and the defence of democratic and human values, the very values that this seat of learning was founded to promote.”

“We therefore call on the rector of the ULB, Dr Yvon Englert, to revoke the decision to honour Ken Loach and to commit instead to fighting all kinds of antisemitism.”