Monday 11 April 2011

Brussels Mayor says Israeli ‘checkpoint’ staged in the center of city ‘exceeded limits’

But stops short of condemning (let alone apologising) and calls the organisers pacifists.

BRUSSELS (EJP) ---The Mayor of Brussels, Freddy Thielemans, said he “regretted” the proportions taken by a anti-Israel demonstration held last month in the heart of the Belgian capital by a group of pro-Palestinian associations who wanted to "denounce the apartheid regime in Israel and encourage people to boycott it."

The associations described as "pacifists" staged an Israeli checkpoint in the middle of Rue Neuve, the main commercial street in Brussels. The images were then filmed and broadcast on Facebook and YouTube.

This staging drew many angry reactions within the Belgian Jewish community especially since it had been authorized by the city and that it occurred one day after the brutal assassination by Palestinians of five members of an Israeli family in Itamar.

The staging ended with the murder of an Arab boy by an Israeli soldier. His mother then filed a Palestinian flag on the body of her child while the audience applauded and shouted "boycott Israel".

"I am ashamed of my city, ashamed of my country today. It is time to look at the reality and act. I invite you to visit a checkpoint at the border and you will forge your own opinion", wrote Julia Szerer, a young 19 year old girl in an email sent to the mayor.

Frederique Ries, a Brussels City Councillor and Euro MP, also wrote to the Mayor, denouncing a "false caricature whose only effect is to import the Middle East conflict in Belgium."

"Criticism is allowed, it is obvious. In Belgium as well as in Israel. But freedom of expression to which I am very attached has its moral and legal limits which have been exceeded. This amounted to incitement to hatred and violence", she stressed in her letter.

In response, the Mayor "regretted the proportions taken by the event" and said he was "sorry" that people have been shocked.

"Without commenting on the content of their message, it is clear that the organizers have exceeded the limits that were set" , Freddy Thielemans said.

"I asked police to be vigilant in the future regarding the authorization of such actions on public space. While preserving the right to freedom of expression, we will do our utmost to prevent such a scenario happening again."

In 2008, a similar staging was held in the town of Nivelles near Brussels.[Wiesenthal Centre denounces bogus 'Israeli' assault on Arabs subliminal Jew-hatred inculcation and Former Belgian Minister sparks ire of Jewish community with remarks on Israel]

Other anti Israel demonstrations staged in Brussels and authorised by the Mayor.

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