Friday, September 9, 2016

Belgium: Major Jewish organisation invites two Israel-bashers

The CCLJ is the largest of the many francophone Jewish organisations - it is secular.  There are about 20,000 French-speaking Jews in Belgium and most do not consider that the CCLJ represents them or share the CCLJ very negative view of Israel.  In contrast, Flemish Jewish organisations (Forum, Joods Actueel) are careful not to be associated with Israel-bashers and do not engage in the systematic criticism of Israel and its internal politics - they operate along the lines of the CRIF (France), CIDI (Netherlands), the Jewish Chronicle (UK), CICAD (Switzerland).

The CCLJ recently hit the headlines for publicly criticising, on the basis of anonymous accusations, Serge Rozen, the president of the CCOJB, an umbrella organisation of Jewish groups.  The article was written by Nicolas Zomersztajn, but it certainly got the approval of the board.  Mr Rozen has since resigned.  A healf-hearted apology was issued. 

The CCLJ will be hosting next week a conference on the collaboration in Flanders during the war - Nicolas Zomersztajn will be chairing the debate.  The two speakers are known for their hostility towards Israel. This does not seem to bother the CCLJ and the conference blurb doesn't mention this fact. 

One of the speakers is Flemish historian Bruno De Wever who signed a petition calling for the academic boycott of Israel.  He is the brother of politician Bart De Wever who is very sympathetic towards the Jewish community and is not on record as making political capital by criticising Israel and being in favour of BDS.
The other speaker is Luc Beyer De Ryke, a  former politician and journalist.

In a recent interview, he accused Jean Gol, a Jewish head of the liberal party (present-day MR) and minister, who died in 1995, of having destroyed his career to placate the minuscule Jewish electorate.

Luc Beyer explained that he was a Euro MP in Strasbourg for ten years. His career came to a very nasty end. It was shattered by Jean Gol. He alleged that Jean Gol was unhappy that he had reported to the European Parliament the findings of a fact-finding mission he had carried out in Palestine by exposing the repression Israel exerted against the Palestinians.

According to Luc Beyer, the report caused a huge stir. The European Parliament asked Israel to allow Europe to trade with the Palestinians. Jean Gol did not appreciate this stand because "it did not suit the Jewish electorate".  He was demoted and expelled from the liberal party.  "That was the end of my political career. A very difficult time", he concluded.

This accusation  is extraordinary because many European MPs harshly criticise Israel and have had very successful careers.  In many instances it has boosted their careers.

"J'ai ensuite siégé à Strasbourg pendant dix ans. Cela s'est, malheureusement, très mal terminé. Ma carrière politique a été brisée par Jean Gol. En fait, j'ai effectué une mission en Palestine. A mon retour, j'ai rendu compte devant le Parlement européen de la répression israélienne envers les Palestiniens. Ce rapport a fait grand bruit. Le Parlement européen a demandé à Israël de permettre à l'Europe de commercer avec les Palestiniens. Jean Gol n'a pas du tout apprécié cette prise de position qui ne convenait pas à l'électorat juif. J'ai été relégué à une place de suppléant puis banni du parti libéral. Ce fut la fin de ma carrière politique. Un moment très difficile…"

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