22 October 2012
Recent local elections had triggered “an unprecedented wave of manifestations of anti-Semitism,” Maurice Sosnowski, the president of the Belgian Jewish umbrella organization CCOJB, has said. The campaign for municipal and provincial elections was “characterized by a flood of anti-Semitic events the likes of which we have never before seen,” Sosnowski declared in a statement.
In Schaarbeek, a municipality that is part of the Brussels Capital Region, “candidates who belonged to the Jewish community were attacked for their affiliation” and the municipality saw a “hate campaign under the pretext of anti-Zionism,” according to Sosnowski.
A week before the election, Belgian Health Minister Laurette Onkelinx (pictured above after casting her vote) complained to police about a pamphlet naming Yves Goldstein, a Jewish member of her party who ran for a seat on the city council of Schaarbeek, an “enemy of Islam.” The Turkish-language pamphlet had called him “an active Zionist and an enemy of Islam,” Onkelinx said at a news conference.
The pamphlet was preceded by email warnings to voters not to cast ballots for Onkelinx’s and Goldstein’s Socialist Party. Doing so, the email said, would be like “stabbing Palestinians in the back.”
Local politicians had been less resolute than Onkelinx in condemning this “hate speech” and so far calls to condemn it had not been forthcoming, the CCOJB statement deplored. Sosnowski said the anti-Jewish expressions were not limited to well-known extremist splinter groups, but had included in the case of Schaerbeek candidates on the list of mainstream parties. The CCOJB called on political parties in Belgium to address this problem and ensure that candidates on their lists respect democratic values.
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