The President of the Coordination Center of Jewish Organisations in Belgium (CCOJB), Yves Oschinsky, along with Benjamin Beeckmans, President of the Secular Jewish Community Center (CCLJ), and Joël Kotek, Professor Emeritus of universities, jointly authored an opinion article in La Libre.
The article addresses the escalating prevalence of anti-Zionist rhetoric in the country, emphasizing the general lack of solidarity and support from public authorities towards the State of Israel.
“Brussels is 1h23′ from Paris… and yet, everything separates us. Nearly 180,000 French people demonstrated against antisemitism. The idea of such a united march in Brussels is the most far-fetched hypothesis. Everything here is different. While French deputies, including LFI, agreed to watch the film of the atrocities committed and filmed by Hamas terrorists, our representatives refused it last Tuesday. We understand them: why agree to see what we don’t want to see. The crimes of Hamas, but also the ongoing ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Turkish bombings in Kurdistan, the Tutsi civilians killed in Kivu, the two million Afghans expelled from Pakistan and, finally, how can we forget it, “ our” bombings (yesterday) against civilians in Rakkah and Mosul, etc.
Better to stick to preconceived ideas, surrealist certainties, and passionate misinformation. The proof by Auguste Fouad Ahidar, the (socialist) president of the Brussels Flemish Parliament (RVGC). Questioned by a Flemish media, here he is who not only minimizes the crimes of October 7, but who, above all, compares Israel’s action to the Shoah. I quote him: “ I, who went to Auschwitz in Poland, to see what genocide is… I can use this term… we use practically the same methods” . See Auschwitz and lie! There is no need to dwell on the crudeness of his remarks or the sincerity of his apologies if we consider that our minister-president is a repeat offender. In 2012, he was already shouting in Antwerp “ Hamas, Hamas, all Jews to gas” , alongside Eddy Hermi, a neo-Nazi activist, during an anti-Israeli demonstration. Sanctioned? Nay!
The real concern is that this slippage, completely controlled, is not an isolated act. It reflects this very particular climate of anti-Israeli hostility which now permeates Belgium, from the media to universities, from north to south, from right to left. On the left, there is no need to refer to the PTB, the Belgian Workers’ Party, the powerful and last Stalinist party in Europe, all about the hateful denunciation of Israel and the loving defense of China and Putin’s Russia. Let us instead focus on the declarations of leaders of the democratic left. So for André Flahaut, this former socialist Minister of Defense who is keen on the comparison between Gaza and Warsaw (95% of Jews perished in Warsaw!). Thus Jean-Pascal Labille, another former socialist minister, who relays on his X account an image linking the Star of David and the swastika (the Shoah: 5,500 Jews murdered daily for… 4.5 years). Thus the PS President of the Chamber, Éliane Tillieux, who is reluctant to differentiate between Israel and Hamas. Thus the current Minister of Development Cooperation, the Flemish socialist, Caroline Gennez, who declared herself “ unfavorable to the display of the Israeli flag on our buildings”. So again of the current (Ecolo) climate minister, Zakia Khattabi, who admitted her embarrassment at using the word “terrorist” in relation to Hamas. We could also mention the case of Petra De Sutter, Flemish Deputy Prime Minister (Groen), who calls in the same vein for the abolition of the Europe-Israel economic treaty, for a ban on entry into Europe for “violent settlers and police officers and soldiers responsible for war crimes” , etc. Is our minister really unaware of the (disastrous) fate that Hamas reserves for LGBTQIA+?
The worst is that with the exception of the N-VA, which is hardly our cup of tea, it is the entire Flemish political class which is unleashing itself against the only democratic state in the region. She is a member of the Christian social movement (CD&V), a member of the government coalition, who tabled a motion in federal parliament aimed at boycotting Israeli products. It was the former president of the Flemish liberal party (VLD), that of the Prime Minister, who came to compare Gaza to Molenbeek. In his eyes, “ the strikes on Gaza are as if we had dropped bombs on Molenbeek, because terrorists had grown up there” . We could laugh about it, were it not for the seriousness of the situation. All these positions would be much less problematic if these Belgian politicians showed equal passion for the Armenian, Kurdish and even Sahrawi peoples.
Our aim is not to present Belgium as an antisemitic country (on the French-speaking side, politicians from the right, the center and the left, and not the least, have been able to keep a cool head), it has not remained less true that there reigns here, an astonishing radical anti-Zionism atmosphere. How to explain it? In question, demographic evidence. In Brussels, the European capital undoubtedly the most inclusive in the world, the practice of Islam now exceeds that of Catholicism; hence, partisan strategies which rightly or wrongly call for anti-Israeli one-upmanship. We know that the so-called Arab street only mobilizes for Palestine, to the exclusion of all other causes, including Muslim ones. The reflex is simplistic, but pays off: “ how many votes will my anti-Israeli speech bring to my party or to my person ?” There is obviously added the pervasiveness of an anti-Semitic habitus on the right (Catholicism) as well as on the left (primary anti-capitalism and/or anti-Americanism), coupled with a troubled relationship with the Shoah which authorizes all the joyous audacity (“And if the real Nazis it was the Israelis !”).
It is in this context that we must obviously understand the murderous, “medieval”, pre-Vatican II remarks of the Bishop of Antwerp, Msg Bonny to “his Jewish friends”. Return of the repressed certainly: we will remember the silence of the Belgian Church and the complicity of the Antwerp municipal authorities in the killing of 65% of the Jews of the metropolis. On this subject, we are awaiting the reaction of the Central Israelite Consistory of Belgium. These declarations, these political calculations which pose Israel as a model of execration are all the more pernicious as they carry deleterious threats. Hatred of Israel is only one aspect of the fractures that are coming. This is evidenced by these minutes of silence that some of our Brussels students demanded to honor the memory of this Tunisian terrorist who murdered two Swedish football supporters last month in cold blood and in the name of Allah. Unrelated to Gaza, therefore.
Belgium is a laboratory which perhaps sets out the terms of a possible future for Jews in the diaspora: choosing between emigrating to Israel, a country without antisemitism, but at war, or remaining in countries at peace, but increasingly more hostile to Jews.”