Belgian Jews: Involvement of extreme rightist in anti-Hamas motion is PR disaster
A legal motion by an Israeli group yesterday to prosecute Hamas officials in Belgium drew harsh criticism from Belgian Jewish organizations in Antwerp and Israel. The organizations warned of a “PR catastrophe” because a leader of the Flemish extreme right was involved.
This is wholly unfortunate, predictable perhaps, but unfortunate nonetheless. The Vlaams Belang, the most philosemitic and pro-Israel party in the fake construct called Belgium, continues to get stiff-armed by some in the Belgian Jewish community and by the Stephen Roth Institute for the study of Antisemitism and Racism.
Five Belgian-Israelis files a lawsuit against the Hamas for war crime committed against Belgian citizens, through the help of the Vlaams Belang party, and certain, but not all, Jewish leaders in Belgium publically call it a “catastrophy”. The reason why? Supposedly the VB has such a bleak track record that some leaders would rather shun the VB for that history, while seeing absolutely no contradiction whatsoever, in their continuing to rub elblows with political parties in government that promote policies that doom Jewish life in the Flemish portions of Belgium.
None of the parties in the Belgian government, socialist and otherwise (which includes the Greens as well) has ever taken a pro-Israel stand like the VB has, let alone try to sue Hamas. The Tundra Tabloids will take deeds over words and day of the week, and that places the VB head and shoulders above the rest of Belgian’s political elite.
But what is one to make about Stephen Roth? He happens to be one of the most often quoted experts on antisemitism, and whose reports find their way into many articles like the recent Haaretz article. While the TT can’t speak about other reports Roth has authored, the one about the Vlaams Belang needs to be viewed in the proper context. It’s highly ironic the VB faces a cordon sanitaire by the rest of the political elite, though those who insist on the anti-democratic ban, have done more to promote antisemitism in Belgium now, than the VB is being blamed for in the past.
All through Europe Social Democrat parties and their hardline alliances on the Left have been banging the anti-Israel (and at times antisemitic) drum while encouraging more antisemitic immigrants, it’s only the VB that stands in their way in Belgium, by their insistance on retaining their own cultural and ethnic identity. Stephen Roth apparently cannot discern the anti-Israel pro-Muslim politics involved in sidelining the VB. KGS
Reinhard states to the TT: “The problem is that all political parties which are anti-Islamic are also ethno-nationalist, and Jews tend to fear the principle of ethno-nationalism since they (erronesouly) blame it for the Holocaust. What we need is a system-wide “reboot” of the European political scene, whereby a sane and compassionate ethnic nationalism is brought in from the cold and replaces the corrupt multicultural ideology. What we can do to help that along is to show, time and time again, that these reliable parties really are reliable.”
The office of Hugo Coveliers, a high-profile Belgian politician from the extreme-right Vlaams Belang party, requested this week that Belgium’s Justice Ministry issue a warrant for the arrest of Hamas leaders including Khaled Meshal and Ismail Haniyeh. The services of Coveliers’ firm were retained by the European Initiative, a pro-Israeli lobby based in Tel Aviv.
Jewish organizations and various Benelux politicians have accused Vlaams Belang of anti-Semitism. Tel Aviv University’s Stephen Roth Institute for the study of anti-Semitism said the party, which remains a pariah among Belgium’s other parties despite its 1 million voters, regularly maintains ties with neo-Fascist groups.
“Involving a Vlaams Belang politician in such an initiative was very unwise,” said Eli Ringer, vice chairman of the forum of Jewish Organizations of Belgium, which represents Flemish Jews. “From a public relations perspective inside Belgium, it’s catastrophic.”
He added that “Vlaams Belang is not a movement Israel wants to be associated with in Belgian public discourse. From a practical point of view, initiatives by Vlaams Belang people are not taken seriously.”
Uri Yablonka, director of the European Initiative, said: “Our only link to Mr. Coveliers is that attorneys from his office represent our legal case. The work with him is on a strictly professional basis.”
The request for the arrest warrant cites the testimonies of 15 Israeli Belgians who said they had suffered from Hamas’ attacks and the UN report by Richard Goldstone that accuses Hamas of war crimes.
The move was designed to meet a stipulation in Belgian law that allows Belgian courts to prosecute anyone who commits serious crimes against Belgian citizens.
“The idea is good, but this has little chance of succeeding in Belgium even without the involvement of Vlaams Belang,” said David Lowy, founder of a group for Belgian immigrants, JOBI. “Involving them is like shooting yourself in the foot or scoring an own goal. Getting Vlaams Belang to defend Israel’s position only makes that position harder to advocate.”