Thursday, November 17, 2011

A little anti-semitism from Belgium

The secretary-general of the Belgian teacher's union wrote an interesting letter to the editor of the Jewish News:
The Palestinian people have just stirred. A small minority thought it could not. Fortunately [they became] a member of UNESCO. [In response, Israel] suddenly decided to expand the settlements.

If this is their response, I will be happy as a union leader ACOD to put the situation of Jewish schools in Antwerp under the spotlight. I fear you are going to be scared.

Hugo Deckers,
General Secretary ACOD
This prompted the Jewish News to remind Belgians that teachers in Jewish schools have nothing to do with Israeli policy and that they have the right to hold opinions that may be contrary to those of Mr. Deckers.

A Jewish organization in Belgium gave a sarcastic response:
Let us say immediately that in our view, Mr. Deckers certainly has nothing against the Jewish students. But, given his duties, what else could he do? Had he been in charge of agriculture he would have attacked the Jewish farmers. Nothing personal!

...If he was aware of wrongdoing [the Jewish schools] have committed, is he not guilty of waiting for Israel to increase its colonies before denouncing them?
The union distanced themselves from his comments and Decker ended up apologizing.

It seems a shame, though, that I did not see any comment from the Belgian Jewish community actually defending the right of Israel to build in its capital city. Both articles took pains to distance the Belgian Jews from Israeli actions, with the subtext being that the actions themselves are indeed embarrassing and problematic.

While this might indeed be the opinion of the Jewish leaders in Belgium, this could be a manifestation of a deeper fear that Belgian and other European Jews have in expressing their political opinions publicly. They know that they would be subject to anti-semitic attacks if they were too forthright in supporting Israel.

More recently, Belgium's Pax Christi called for the boycott of Israeli goods like Osem snacks - specifically in Jewish neighborhoods. 

(h/t Rudi)