Thursday 8 December 2011

Belgium's New Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and the Jews

Please note that former Belgian PM Yves Leterme (Flemish) never expressed such disdain.  On the contrary.  See his comments on the right-hand column of this blog.

Newly appointed Belgian PM Elio di Rupo stated in January 2009:

Killing in cold blood: "What the Israeli government is doing in cold blood - killing innocent people, killing women and children - is totally unacceptable and I think that what happened in some parts of the world, I mean some people were dragged before international courts, should happen to those men and women who are responsible for what is being done [in Gaza]. There is nothing that can justify killing civilians. Nothing can justify killing children, women ... people like you and me. [...] I believe that one day or another they will be brought to justice. "

Jews are remorseless: "I must tell you that I have more than sympathy for the Jewish population, I feel a form of love for them. But I also wish that the Palestinians live in prosperity and peace. And this cold blooded and remorseless attitude, while witnessing schools being destroyed and all those deaths, is unacceptable. It is totally unacceptable."  Soon after (March 2009) a Belgian Socialist (held in high regard by Mr Di Rupo) Pierre Galand (see below) created a ferociouly anti-Israel kangaroo court: the Russell tribunal on Palestine. Here. [1]

"I complained that while the Flemish Parliament maintained commercial and cultural treaties with Israel, similar agreements had been rejected by the Walloon and Brussels Parliaments.Wallonia had however, such agreements with Libya and Cuba. Di Rupo answered that he would correct this after the elections; yet he did nothing."

Israel's former ambassador to Belgium, Jehudi Kinar [photo]: "Di Rupo once said that he had not known there were poor Jews."  Interview by Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld.

"Belgium is a country with a complex political system that is difficult to analyze. It is a federal state and there are tensions between its two major populations, the Dutch-speaking Flemish and the French-speaking Walloons.

Now, 540 days after the last parliamentary elections, the Wallonian Socialist leader Elio di Rupo has been appointed prime minister of a broad six-partcoalition. An analysis of his and his party’s hostile attitude toward Israel for many years already, makes it easier to understand how he might conduct himself in future."

Jehudi Kinar was the Israeli Ambassador to Belgium and Luxemburg from 2003 until the end of 2007. Before that, he had foreign postings in the Netherlands, Germany, the United States, and Canada.

"The Socialist Party (PS) is currently the dominant party in Wallonia. Di Rupo was a big disappointment for me, yet I should have known better. After he returned from Israel in 1999 when he was Prime Minister of the Walloon Region Di Rupo said that he ‘had not known that there are poor Jews’.

During our first meeting I complained that while the Flemish Parliament maintained commercial and cultural treaties with Israel, similar agreements had been rejected by the Walloon and Brussels Parliaments.Wallonia had however, such agreements with Libya and Cuba. Di Rupo answered that he would correct this after the elections; yet he did nothing.

“We had several other bad experiences with the Socialists. In 2001, a politically motivated court case was brought against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Israeli Generals Rafael Eitan and Amos Yaron, regarding their alleged involvement in the murders of Palestinians by Christian militia in the Lebanese refugee camps Sabra and Shatilla. We won in the District Court. [2]  Then in 2003, the Wallonian and Flemish Socialists, the Greens and the CDH – a Wallonian former Christian party — passed a rare retroactive change of law in the Senate which enabled prosecution of non-Belgian citizens for crimes committed elsewhere.

"After the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit in 2006, Di Rupo came out with a press release claiming Israel used this as a pretext to start a war against Lebanon. The Israeli Embassy responded by pointing out that the PS had never condemned rocket attacks from Gaza at the citizens of Sderot.

Di Rupo later declared that he would continue his political line toward Israel ‘despite the arrogant letter from the Israeli Ambassador.’ That letters from the Israeli Ambassador did not deserve a response, was a trademark of the PS.

"Another powerful figure in the party is Laurette Onkelinckx, then-Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister. We met a number of times. She promised me she would speak with Di Rupo, as she could not believe that my letter had not been answered. Onkelinckx assumed there had been a technical glitch. When we did not receive an answer from Di Rupo, I sent her a letter. She did not acknowledge it. In the new government she will be Minister for Social Affairs and Health, and again Deputy Prime Minister. [Her husband lawyer Marc Uyttendaele wrote an anti-Israel book in 2006...]

"André Flahaut, then-Defense Minister, was particularly problematic. He will continue as Chairman of the Chamber. Flahaut was always available for meetings, yet came out with very strong anti-Israeli statements. In later years, he also took part in anti-Israeli demonstrations. Meetings with him were important because Belgium had soldiers in the UNIFIL force in Lebanon. Like many politicians from various parties, Flahaut was surrounded by anti-Israeli advisers. Several had close advisers with Muslim backgrounds. [More about Flahaut HERE and HERE.]

"A case apart is Philippe Moureaux, a former Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and now Mayor of Molenbeek. For years he asked the Israeli Embassy to provide Palestinian children from Bethlehem and Ramallah with exit visas so they could spend their vacations in Belgium. When I asked Moreaux why he did not organize a common visit for those children together with Jewish children from Sderot, he did not answer. A year later when he repeated his request, we asked the same question and got no reply. In June 2010, this not-so-young Mayor (seventy-two) married Latifa Benaicha, who is of Muslim background. [Philippe Moureaux, a Socialist Party (PS) senator, former Justice Minister and the mayor of the Molenbeek borough of Brussels, was interviewed by Le Vif/L'Express last week [in the aftermath of rioting in Molenbeek during Ramadan], where he said the following: "At the age of 20, when I was a Marxist, I was not a big supporter of the right to diversity. I evolved. And what made me turn around is precisely the conversations I had with representatives of the Jewish community. It saddens me, today, that they deny [!] the right [!] of diversity [!] to Muslims."]

“The most extreme anti-Israeli in the PS is former Senator Pierre Galand. He has initiated many anti-Israeli motions in the Senate. He also heads various anti-Israel organizations such as the Belgian-Palestinian Association and the Lay Action Center. Galand was also Secretary General of OXFAM Belgium during the period 1967-1996.

Véronique De Keyser, a European PS Parliamentarian, once declared that she wanted to strangle the Israeli Ambassador. Many people thought she meant me. As she is a member of the European Parliament, I can clarify that she referred to my colleague who was the Israeli Ambassador to the EU." ["One must wring the neck of the European and German culpability on the Holocaust", 2007.  More here.]

Kinar concludes: "Perhaps miracles do happen and the attitudes and manners of the Wallonian Socialists will improve now they head the government.  Fortunately enough some ministers from other coalition parties have a positive attitude toward Israel."

Interview conducted by Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld (The writer has been a long-term adviser on strategy issues to the Boards of several major multinational corporations in Europe and North America. He is the Chairman of the Board of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

[1] In April 2011, the association converted into a non-profit organisation with a legal status in Brussels by Pierre Galand, Jacques Michiels, Jacques Debatty, Nadia Farkh, Henri Eisendrath and Roseline Sonet. Former non-elected PS senator, Pierre Galand, has been named as president of the association. In a speech given by Pierre Galand on the 12.09.2011 the budget for the Cape Town session of the tribunal is €190,000. In the same speech Galand said that €100,000 was donated by Editions Indigene, the publisher of the book “Time for an outrage.”  In addition, more than €15,000 was raised at a September 24, 2011 fundraising event by the Belgian support committee of the Russell Tribunal.The Caipirinha Foundation lists the RToP as a grant receiver, but does not disclose the amount or the year of its grant.

[2] The law soon ran into trouble when a number of parties worldwide filed cases criticized as politically motivated against leaders of various nations.
Over the years filings included cases against American officials, including George H. W. BushDick CheneyColin PowellNorman Schwarzkopf and Tommy Franks [Shimon Peres too]. [...] In an effort by the United States to pressure Belgium, United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld threatened to remove the NATO Headquarters from Brussels unless the Law was changed.

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