The mayor of the Belgian city of Kortijk, Vincent Van Quickenborne, a former senator and federal minister, tweeted an antisemitic conspiracy theory in the aftermath of the widely condemned Aalst carnival, where antisemitic and racist floats and costumes were paraded around the city.
“The Jewish lobby is working extra hours,” Van Quickenborne tweeted. “After Aalst, now Washington.” The tweet alluded to a reaction by Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz to a comments U.S. Democratic Party Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders about Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
The Coordinating Committee of Belgian Jewish Organisations (CCOJB), the country’s EJC affiliate, described the comments made by Van Quickenborne as disgraceful. “The CCOJB requests that this comment be retracted, and that it be publicly corrected. Its undignified for a democratic party to spread the myth of the Jewish lobby. Its unbecoming of a former minister. It is also unacceptable to confuse Israel and the Jewish community, and what happens in Washington with what was widely condemned in Aalst. This is simply shameful,” read a statement.
Van Quickenborne is a member of Open VLD, a leading Flemish liberal party, and a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). Fellow Belgian liberals condemned the remarks, notably Frédérique Ries, a Belgian Liberal MEP.”The Jewish lobby», am I really reading this? By a former Minister, Senator and current Open VLD mayor? Pure antisemitic speech! For your information Mr Van Quickenborne the shock, disgust and shame at the sight of the Zyklon B posters on a deportation train in Alost were global,” Ries wrote on Twitter.
Van Quickenborne has been a controversial figure in Belgium for many years. In 2002, when serving as a senator he met with Hamas founder Sheikh Yassin in Gaza, for which he was rebuked by members of his own party. In the aftermath of the Aalst carnival, Van Quickenborne had shown support for antisemitic and homophobic tweets.