Belgium:
EU-Israel affairs advisor: 'They're testing our limits'

Jenny Aharon: 'Belgian government not only violates own laws on anti-Semitism, also violates EU core objectives.'

Mordechai Sones,

Jenny Aharon
Jenny Aharon
Jenny Aharon

The Forum of Jewish Organizations (FJO) representing the Jewish community of Flanders, Belgium, will seek to prosecute the author of an op-ed in a Belgian daily that described Jews as land thieves with “ugly noses” and superiority complexes.

The piece by Dimitri Verhulst, published by the De Morgen newspaper, inaccurately quoted the late French-Jewish singer Serge Gainsbourg as having said “Being Jewish is not a religion, no God would give creatures such an ugly nose.”

In a statement, the Forum of Jewish Organizations says it sees no reason to withdraw the intended criminal complaint against Verhulst: "The FJO points out that Verhulst has not yet taken back a word of his anti-Semitic tirade or repented of it. Even after his Palestinian colleagues distanced themselves from Verhulst in De Morgen on August 9 and also accused him of anti-Semitism, his silence remained deafening," the statement said. "The editors of De Morgen, however, corrected a false quote attributed to Serge Gainsbourg by Verhulst.

"That is why it remains necessary for the judge to state clearly that anti-Semitism is punishable in Belgium and where exactly the extreme limit of freedom of expression should be drawn," said FJO Spokesman Hans Knoop.

Dutch Jews are also considering legal recourse as that paper is also distributed in Holland. The statement went on to say: "In the meantime, the Jewish Federation of the Netherlands (FJN) has also filed a criminal complaint against Verhulst with the Public Prosecution Service in Amsterdam. In his declaration, lawyer Herman Loonstein in Amsterdam points out that De Morgen is also for sale in the Netherlands and that, in his opinion, there is therefore a criminal offense there. He is also investigating whether the Libris Literature Prize awarded to Dimitri Verhulst in 2009 can be taken away from him."

EU-Israel affairs advisor and Golden Gate public affairs Director Jenny Aharon told Arutz Sheva that "the Belgian government not only violates its own laws on anti-Semitism but also violates EU core objectives."

Aharon says "In most cases it is hard to judge if the person genuinely fights Zionism because he/she is convinced that this is a wrong ideology and detrimental to the region and to the Middle East peace or because he/she is an anti-Semite. Many times we enter what we call a grey area and we just don’t know and end up giving that person the benefit of the doubt.

"Verhulst made it very easy, he simply resorted to the old/Nazi like anti-Semitism where there is no space for debate. He stupidly made the old anti-Semitism the basis in his article for his hate against Israel. That’s why he is an easy target and necessary to combat because he could make old virulent anti-Semites crawl out from their hiding places."

The Belgian daily that published the op-ed removed the facial feature reference on Wednesday amid international criticism.

Aharon called the change cosmetic: "The correction makes it even worse; it means neither the author nor the editor want to retract."

The editor, Bart Eeckhout, defended the op-ed on Tuesday, telling JTA that its critics were trying to silence criticism of Israel.

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