Belgium, which hosts the European Union capital in Brussels, provides a paradigmatic example of the new-style ֲ hatred for the Jews. The Belgian capital’s oldest Jewish school,ֲ named forֲ Maimonides, will be closed soon due to anti-Semitic attacks and lack of students. Like during the Nazi occupation, it is dangerous today for a Jewish girl to go to school in Brussels these days. They are routinelyֲ told “Dirty Jew – go to your country”.
Belgium has 40,000 Jews. In 2012, watchdog groups recorded a 50 percent rise in anti-Semitic hatred.
It is estimated that 30% of the Brussels population (1 million) is Muslim and they will be the majority in three generations. The daily De Morgen published the results of a survey among young Muslims in Brussels high schools. It finds that half “can be described as anti-Semitic, which is a very high rate”, says VUB sociologist Mark Elchardus.
Meanwhile, Belgian authorities declared war on Judaism. A Belgian court in the city of Antwerp has just forced a Jewish Orthodox school for girls, affiliated with a hassidic sect, to admit the two sons of an anti-Zionist hareidi militant who attended the Holocaust denial conference in Tehran in 2006 and was photographed kissing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
And if the illiberal and coercive Belgian society presumed to strip Judaism of its ability to define itself in religious terms, Jewish students at the European school, the most prestigious in Brussels, where children of European representatives are sent, are harassed over their support for Israel.
It’s notֲ coincidental that the U.S. ambassador to Belgium blamed Israel for anti-Semitism among Muslims. Howard Gutman said “a distinction should be made between traditional anti-Semitism, which should be condemned, and Muslim hatred for Jews, which stems from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians”.
Most of public comments on Israel by Belgian officials read as Arab League communiques.
Karel De Gucht, the European Commissioner for Trade and a former Belgian foreign minister, on Belgian Flemish public radio,ֲ launched intoֲ a tirade against the Jews: “Do not underestimate the Jewish lobby on Capitol Hill”, Mr. De Gucht said. “There is indeed a belief—it’s difficult to describe it otherwise—among most Jews that they are right”, he said. “And it’s not so much whether these are religious Jews or not.ֲ Secular Jews also share the same belief that they are right. So it is not easy to have, even with moderate Jews, a rational discussion about what is actually happening in the Middle East”.
Here, then, was a case not of “criticism of Israel” or “anti-Zionism”: Mr. De Gucht’s target was Jews.
Belgium, which became one of the first Western countries to grant the PLO an embassy in Brussels, emerged as the most vociferous European demonizer of Israel. The day after his assassination, Shaykh Ahmad Yassin was represented in a popular Flemish daily (Nieuwsblad) in a Christ-like position.
But contrary to some other EU states, Belgium’s policies aren’t driven by pro-Arab realpolitik, but by deeply held anti-Semitic attitudes. Commerce with the Arab world accounts for only a small fraction of Belgium’s trade balance. The Belgian hatred for Israel is denationalized, secularized, internationalist, universalist and third-worldist.
Belgium and Austria were the only two EU countries to vote in favor of a UN-led demonic investigation of “West Bank settlements”.
In a prominently displayed editorial in the Belgium newspaper Le Soir, a vice-president of the Senate foreign affairs committee asked: “Isn’t Israel’s intransigent rejection of a just peace glaring proof the Zionist project is bankrupt?”. The writer typically went on toֲ list similarities between “the Jews” and the Afrikaners’ Apartheid regime.
Local Jews also have a national responsibilityֲ for appeasing hatred. The Umbrella Organization of Jewish Institutions of Belgium just hosted André Flahaut, president of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, as a guest of honor at a gala dinner. Flahaut – a former defense minister and senior Socialist Party official – compared Israel to the Nazis. Why did the Jews honor such a self professed anti-Semite?
In Antwerp, the famous “Belgian Jerusalem”, a highly respected and government-funded Catholic school, the College of the Sacred Heart, hosted a “Palestine Day”, which was replete with anti-Semitic references and activities for youngsters. One stall at the event was titled “Throw the soldiers into the sea” where children were invited to throw replicas of Jewish and Israeli soldiers into two large tanks of water.
During the onset and aftermath of the Black Death (1348-49), Belgian Jews were slaughtered by the local populace and authorities who blamed them for poisoning the wells to cause the plague. Only a handful of families survived, most of whom were burned at the stake in 1370, charged with desecrating the Host (the wafers used in communion).
In 1940 the Belgian Jews were burned in Auschwitz with the voluntary participation of the Belgian authorities. Seventy years later, Belgian pupils are learning how to target Israeli flags, effigies of an Antwerp Hassid, a synagogue, the Maccabi sports club – and ultimately, to kill Israelis.
These days, while the Belgian authorities were opening the Jewish museum in the building that served as a Nazi station, passengers on a train in Brussels got a shock as the following announcement came over the speaker, “Welcome to the train to Auschwitz. The Jews are asked to get off at Buchenwald”.
And a significant part of Iran’s nuclear program comes from Belgium .
The writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the book “A New Shoah”, that researched the personal stories of Israel’s terror victims, published by Encounter. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage and Commentary. He is at work on a book about the Vatican and Israel.