Sunday, February 8, 2009

Belgium, Antisemitism and Muslims

Belgium, Antisemitism and Muslims

The Forum of Jewish Organizations (FJO) in Flanders came out against a recent humor segment featured on VRT. "Man Bijt Hond" (man eat dog) mocked Jews for being too sensitive. The segment accused Jews of being too sensitive for getting upset at Flemish culture minister Bert Anciaux, who compared the Dendermonde nursery stabbing to the Israeli attack in Gaza. (I'm not sure why the parents of the victims didn't get upset at the comparison or at having their private grief used for crass political purposes).

The segment listed what Jews aren't yet upset at, including Rolls-Royce, Rolex and the diamond industry. The Jewish community complained, and for several days Flemish media discussed whether Jews are indeed too sensitive.


"We are the canary in the coal mine"

-- Diane Keyser, FJO Secretary General


"Really it [antisemitism] was never eliminated. Traditionally Flanders was very Catholic, and if you know the history, then you know that the conservative church is rather anti-Jewish. But after WWII, it wasn't acceptable to say something about the Jews. So around 2000, when the second intifada began, the atmosphere already got worse. Since the recent conflict in Gaza, you can again say anything about the Jews, as if we decide Israeli policy here."

"The first signs are always that they speak about 'them' and that again the adjective "Jewish" is added everywhere if it's negative reporting [ie, about Jews]."

- But don't Moroccans and Turks complain abut the same stigmatization?

"Naturally, and they're also right. But the difference is that Turks and Moroccans form a much larger group, and in Flanders there aren't more than 20,000 Jews. I myself am not so recognizable. but if you walk in the city as a Chassidic Jew, than some Muslim youth usually call out "dirty Jew" at you. Those young men are being incited. At a protest of the Arab European League an effigy of a religious Jew was burned. The protesters wanted to also go to the Jewish neighborhood, but luckily the riot police prevented that at the last moment. The religious Jews are becoming more and more vulnerable."

-- Eli Ringer, FJO council member


"Through two thousand years of antisemitism, we have a better radar for xenophobia. that is different than being easily insulted."

"I've lived now for twenty years in Belgium. When I came here the Jewish community saw the then Vlaams Blok, now Vlaams Belang, as a great danger, because they were against foreigners. Now everything is seen as a danger, except for Vlaams Belang, which on the basis of the anti-Islam agenda is clearly making overtures."

-- Hans Knoop, former journalist and adviser of the FJO.

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

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