Jewish groups protest Belgian newspaper's anti-Semitic article

Six European Jewish groups send letter to editor of De Morgen newspaper, ask him to retract article saying Jews have "ugly noses".

Ben Ariel ,

Parliament House in Belgium
Parliament House in Belgium

The European Jewish Association on Wednesday sent a letter to the Editor in Chief of the De Morgen newspaper in Belgium, after it printed and defended an op-ed in which Jews are described as land thieves with ugly noses and a superiority complex.

The letter was co-signed by B’nai B’rith Europe, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Commissioner Against Antisemitism of the Jewish Community of Berlin, the Action & Protection Foundation TEV and the Rabbinical Centre of Europe.

The letter expresses “deep concern for the blatant anti-Semitism in Dimitri Verhulst’s column of 27 July 2019. “

“The article blames the whole of the Jewish people collectively, making no distinction between Israel and Jewish people who live elsewhere, and furthermore it mocks their religion and equates being a Jew with creatures with ‘ugly noses,’” the letter reads.

“Manipulating and misquoting Serge Gainsbourg in saying ‘being a Jew is not a religion; there is not a single God who would give His creatures such an ugly nose’ is misleading and wrong. In his article, Verhulst not only serves the stereotype of Jews’ nose, propagated by Goebbels and Streicher in Der Stürmer, he deliberately distorted the irony in Gainsbourg's quote in order to justify his own anti-Semitism.”

“We remind your newspaper that to blame the whole of the Jewish people collectively for real or imaginary wrongdoings committed by individuals or the State of Israel falls within the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism. These are references and stereotypes that Nazis themselves use,” the letter says.

“It is shocking that we have to point out how dangerous the demonization of Jewish people is and what it has led to here in Europe. We ask you to retract the article immediately and issue an official apology to the Jewish community and to your readers.”

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

On Wednesday, Israel’s embassy in Belgium condemned the newspaper for printing and defending the op-ed.

Israel rarely comments on articles published in commercial media in democratic countries.

Ambassador Emmanuel Nahshon wrote on Twitter that his embassy “will fight forcefully and uncompromisingly against anti-Semitism, which is a crime not only targeting the Jewish community but against any democratic and tolerant society.”