Thursday 29 May 2008

Former Belgian Minister sparks ire of Jewish community with remarks on Israel, EJP

From the European Jewish Press

"A former Belgian Defense Minister sparked the ire of the Jewish community after he reportedly compared Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians to the fate of the Jews during World War II.

In a speech last Saturday at a pro-Palestinian gathering in Nivelles, near Brussels, André Flahaut, a Socialist MP and city councillor, compared Israel to a Nazi state, according to CCOJB, the umbrella representative group of Belgian Jewish organizations.

He was quoted as saying: “Like any normal person, I am revolted when I see children suffering, when I see maltreated women, who are raped, when I see maltreated men and freedoms ridiculed. During the twelve years and half I was minister, I left no stone unturned so that the atrocities against the Jews during WWII be remembered and not forgotten. I also ask that one have the same commitment, the same determination to make that the voice of those who suffer today is heard and to avoid banalization. I am determined to fight against all exclusions, all nazisms, all fascisms wherever they are.”

In a statement, the “Union of Deported Jews in Belgium-Daughters and Sons of the Deportation”, urged Flahaut to publicly retract his comments.

Flahaut, who was Defense Minister in the former government of Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, denied later that he made anti-Jewish comments.

He said the gathering on Saturday was organized by a group advocating dialogue between Israel and Palestine.

When he arrived at the meeting, Flahaut was heckled by a Jewish representative who blamed him for his presence.

The former minister added: "I answered that I am in favour of dialogue and that I have always been determined to fight all forms of violence, racism and extremism. My speech remained general and balanced. I never questioned any state."

During the gathering, pseudo-Israeli soldiers wearing weapons staged a mock repression of Palestinians to illustrate what organizers called in their leaflets the "expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 when Israel was created."

An Ecologist MP, Thérèse Snoy, denounced "pressure from certain Jewish groups" on the city's authorities to ban the demonstration."

For Belgian Minister Israeli military operations in Gaza are "shocking"

In 2008 lots of events hostile to Israel will be hosted - or have already taken place - ... to coincide with Israel's 60th birthday. Here is a small sample:
Norman Finkelstein at Brussels Nakba commemoration day
Israelis compared to Nazi SS on Belgian radio blog
Zionism, a "Tumour in the midst of Judaism", Belgian radio forum
Masarat, Belgium in the Middle East, by the Islam in Europe blog
Content of Belgian-sponsored Palestinian festival irks Jews, JTA
Zan Studio of Ramallah - anti-Israeli artists invited to Belgium
Palestinian festival sparks controversy - Belgium
Israel on trial in Brussels: Iranian and Syrian Ambassadors give standing ovation to judges
Lebanon war mock tribunal condemns Israel and U.S.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You can see the pathetic event
For his defense, when asked about what he said on Radio Judaica, the ex-minister refused to distance himself from the event. He points out that when one looks at the very words he said, he did not talk about Israel. Given the context and what the Ecolo (Green party) person who spoke before him, there is absolutely no doubt in anybody's mind that he did refer to Israel in his diatribe. Denying under these circumstances either cynically hypocritical, or miserably naive. Or both.