CCOJB President Yves Oschinsk describes the desecration of Jewish graves in the Marcinelle cemetery as a horror. He sees the theft of the Stars of David as an attempt to take away the identity of the deceased, extending beyond “all abominations.”
At least 85 graves in the Jewish section of the Marcinelle cemetery have been desecrated, according to Paul Magnette, the socialist mayor of Charleroi. The chosen location and targeted graves leave little doubt about the antisemitic nature of the vandalism.
Yves Oschinsky refers to it as “the worst desecration of graves since Carpentras” in 1990 when 34 Jewish graves were overturned and broken by neo-Nazis in the cemetery of that Vaucluse commune.
“It’s not just a desecration: its purpose is to deprive Jews of their identity since the Stars of David have been removed from the graves. This surpasses all abominations,” says Yves Oschinsky in a joint statement.
It’s a horror. It’s the most significant cemetery desecration since Carpentras in 1990, over thirty years ago. It has a meaning: not letting the dead rest in peace is certainly linked to the madness provoked by the conflict between Israel and Hamas. But it’s not just a desecration: its purpose is to deprive Jews of their identity since the Stars of David have been removed from the graves. This surpasses all abominations. It’s an unspeakable cruelty for all Jewish families, for the entire Jewish community. The cruelest and strongest symbol of hatred. A complaint has been filed. Charleroi Mayor Paul Magnette is also the chief of police. He is currently doing what he must.
Is this a new step in the rise of anti-Semitism in Belgium?
It’s one of the manifestations, not of the resurgence but of the exponential explosion of antisemitic acts. This occurs simultaneously with the conflict. It follows the increase in antisemitism that already existed in Belgium. What just happened in the Marcinelle cemetery is the complete manifestation of this antisemitism.
Impact on the Jewish community?
Unfortunately, it adds to the community’s feeling that some no longer want to see Jews in Belgium. Yet, we are Belgians. And the Jews of Belgium are not accountable for what happens elsewhere. They are perfectly integrated. They have contributed to the country, everything that men and women can contribute to Belgium to the best of their ability.
What do you expect from the authorities?
It’s time for the authorities to speak out. The alarm bell is ringing loudly. We need the government to react and call for nuance.
Are there other acts of defiance towards the Jewish community at the moment?
There is a fever of demonstrations, a fever that involves major hostility. It also manifests strongly at the ULB, where Jewish students are stigmatized by other students. They are insulted, confronted. Any poster from the Union of Jewish Students of Belgium at the ULB is immediately torn down. It started with posters related to hostages, immediately torn down, at the ULB and elsewhere.