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The Situation for Belgian Jews

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Joods Actueel is a Jewish Dutch language (or Flemish if you prefer) news outlet in Belgium. In this very timely piece currently running, Jonath Weinberger writes about the plight of Belgian Jews today in the midst of the Israeli-Hamas war. It is translated by Fousesquawk.

Belgian Jews in a pinch

January 30, 2024

Is the situation for Jews in Belgium worrying? Unfortunately, that would be an understatement. It is five minutes to midnight, maybe five minutes after midnight. Worst of all, the policymakers are complicit in the alarming increase in anti-Zionism and Jew hatred.

Jonath Weinberger

Each day, Jews in Belgium are confronted in a painful way by the war in Israel. The Palestinian flags waving everywhere and the painstaking distribution of “Free Palestine” stickers are part of the street scene in many Belgian cities these days. Thus, Jews are constantly reminded of the horrors of October 7. Many are regularly harassed by chants of “Free Palestine” or even worse- the genocidal tune, “From the river to the sea”.

In education as well, Jewish students no longer feel safe because they are spoken to in a reproachful tone about the conflict in Gaza. In some schools, anti-Israel pamphlets are even distributed. Other schools organize a minute of silence for the victims in Gaza. But not one word, nor a minute of silence for the more than 1,000 slaughtered men, women, and children on the Israeli side. Nowhere is there a demand for the innocent Israeli hostages to be released.

In Ghent, a group of family doctors decided to boycott  Israeli medicines. They called on colleagues and pharmacists to follow their example. “Kauft nicht by Juden“? (In German: Don’t buy from Jews”)

Even parties can no longer be held without Palestinian propaganda. The Flemish opening event in Mechelen, on the occasion of the Belgian EU presidency, was disrupted by pro-Palestinian activists. A poet proclaimed pro-Palestinian messages, and from the audience, sounded, “From the river to the sea”. When singer Laura Tesoro took her turn on the stage, things got no better. On the contrary, by waving a Palestinian flag on the stage, she excited the visitors even more. A well-organized group of activists succeeded in hijacking the public space with a misleading, one-sided campaign. The brutal, murderous attack on October 7 on a music festival, among others, and several kibbutzes has completely disappeared from view, just like the hostages.

Jihad expert

The one-sidedness of the reporting of the Flemish broadcast is striking here. They invited almost exclusively pro-Palestinian activists, who got an open forum to spread their hate and lies. The extremist, Abou Jahjah, a sympathizer of the terrorist Hezbollah movement, had no problem in questioning whether Hamas had actually committed the horrors of October 7. This Lebanese-Belgian extremist has now established his own political movement; the ideas of the party are easy to guess. Jahjah refuses to call Hamas a terrorist movement. And the Arabist, Montasser AlDe’ emeh – a self-described jihad expert- shows his extremist side and is allowed to make a number of completely out-of-the- (blue) accusations against Israel on TV without any critical questions. By not allowing the other side in this conflict hardly a word, the public broadcast not only makes a serious mistake but also fails to calm the whipped-up mood.

You see this on the street, where the anti-Jewish violence is increasing. That varies from deliberate pokes while jogging to being dragged off a bicycle. On January 13, a 19-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of illegal weapons possession and preparing for a terrorist attack. Friends of Palestine come down hard when Jews buy products from Israel. Absolutely no (form) of intimidation or act of violence is shunned. 

And then, as a well-meaning, concerned fellow human being, you expect politicians to take hard action against the increasing Jew hatred in our society. Alas. With few exceptions, there is a deafening silence in this area. Nor is there anything heard about the Israeli hostages, who are still being held prisoner under harsh conditions in Gaza.


Our ministers blunder, consciously or unconsciously. The visit of Premier Alexander De Croo to Israel left a bitter aftertaste. Together with his Spanish colleague, Pedro Sanchez, he held a press conference at the location where the handover of hostages took place. That was, of course, not the right place, nor the right time. De Croo made it worse by pleading for a complete cease-fire and an end to causing civilian casualties. The message was received with applause by Hamas, who even congratulated the Belgian prime minister on X with friendly words.

But it turns out that was not enough. Petra De Sutter, federal vice-premier and minister for Government Enterprises and Civil Service Affairs, writes on X: “Belgium cannot continue to watch what is happening in Gaza. It looks more and more like genocide. And that’s why I want our country, just like South Africa, to go to the International Court of Justice. I am laying that on the table within the government.” 

A politician should know that the use of the term “genocide” is not a light matter. Genocide is the taking away of the right to exist of an entire human group, which in practice, means mass murder of that group. The industrial murder of Jews during the Shoah was genocide. The mass murder of Armenians at the start of the 20th century was genocide. But it was the Hamas terror movement that began the war with the bloody October 7 pogrom in Israel.

That the death toll in Gaza is high is completely due to Hamas, who never took any measure to protect the citizens of Gaza. On the contrary, For years, Hamas has deliberately used schools and hospitals, among others, as bases and weapons depots. The terror group provoked the war, and from that moment, hid behind the hostages and its own population. Israel is adhering to the rules of conducting war. The large death toll from a conflict does not (constitute) genocide. In addition, as a state, Israel is responsible for the security of its citizens. As long as Hamas controls Gaza, Israel is not safe. That is why it is absolutely necessary to put an end to Hamas once and for all.

That Minister De Sutter wishes to join with a country like South Africa, where human rights are uncritically violated, shows that she has ill will toward Israel.


Caroline Gennez, Minister for Development Cooperation, went a step further with the question: “German friends, are we going to again stand on the wrong side of history?” Comparing the war against Hamas to the Shoah? That is not just shocking; that is a trivialization of the Holocaust- a punishable act in Belgium. Minister Gennez should be more concerned about the Belgian tax money which, under the guise of development cooperation, goes directly into the pockets of terrorists. The minister has previously said that she wants sanctions against Israel for “war crimes”.

You can imagine that many Jews no longer feel comfortable in Belgium. The Jewish community is waiting for a strong political signal against the growing anti-Semitism. January 27 is the International Day of Holocaust Remembrance, a moment that many politicians seize to show compassion for the victims of the Shoah. But the Jewish community has no need for empty phrases: “Never again is now!”


Jonath Weinberger is a volunteer in a group under the leadership of Michel Kotek, which wants to bring a balance in the reporting of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the one hand and combat anti-Semitism on the other. The group consists of both Jews and non-Jews.



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