President of the Flemish parliament in Belgium Jan Peter Peumans has said he did not mean to offend Turks with remarks he made during a live quiz show on a local TV channel, the Turkish Embassy in Brussels said in a statement on Wednesday.While it is true the the question was quoting the anti-semite Voltaire, not saying that it is a fact that the Jewish people are disgusting, it is still an inflammatory question for a popular broadcast quiz show.
“Peumans said he is sorry because the situation has caused consequences beyond his intention,” read the embassy's statement.
When asked which nation was the most disgusting on the face of earth in famous French philosopher Voltaire's opinion during the “De Pappenheimers” quiz show on the VRT channel on Sunday, Peumans -- who is also a member of the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) -- said that among the choices presented to him -- “Flemish, Jews or Turks” -- he knew the answer was Jews, but because he “did not have the courage to say anything against them” he would say Turks instead. “I really knew it [correctly] but I do not have any courage to say something new about Jews. They are very sensitive people. I once said something about their liberalism and it really caused me a lot of trouble,” Peumans had said. Following his words, film director Jan Eelen, another contestant, told Peumans that “it appears saying something against Turks is not a problem, then.”
On the positive side, it shows that even Voltaire recognized that Jews are a nation, unlike today's anti-semites. It is amazing how Jew-haters throughout the centuries will change their elastic list of reasons why Jews are to be loathed (too separate/too integrated, too religious/too liberal...) but the fact that they are hated remains amazingly constant.