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August 5, 2019 3:06 pm

Israeli Embassy, Leading Jewish Group Slam Antisemitic Column by Prominent Belgian Writer

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Belgian writer Dimitri Verhulst. Photo: Matěj Baťha.

The Israeli Embassy and a leading Jewish organization in Belgium have joined the growing criticism of an antisemitic column written by a prominent Belgian writer.

Dimitri Verhulst wrote in the leftist newspaper De Morgen on July 27, “Being Jewish is not a religion, no God would give creatures such an ugly nose.”

He also said, “Because God has His favorites and they have their privileges, Palestinians were driven out of their homes in 1948 to make a place for God’s favorites.”

He further claimed “talking to the Chosen is difficult.”

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The Israeli Embassy in the country tweeted on Monday that it was “deeply shocked by the publication by the daily newspaper @demorgen of an article conveying antisemitic stereotypes written by Dimitri Verhulst.”

“This #antisémitisme is not an opinion but a crime,” it added.

De Morgen itself reported that the Forum der Joodse Organisaties (Forum of Jewish Organizations or FJO), which represents the Jews of Antwerp and its surroundings, said Verhulst’s statement “directly and straightforwardly targets the entire Jewish people in an antisemitic manner.”

“This is a step too far,” said Hans Knoop of the FJO. “Criticism of Israel is legitimate. Anyone can criticize Israel. How far you can go in this is subjective. But with Dimitri Verhulst it is clear: he is targeting the Jewish people as a people.”

“He talks about them as the chosen people,” Knoop pointed out, “and according to him, that election leads to Jews being able to expel Palestinians and oppress other people.”

“These are allegations that do not focus on the policy of the State of Israel, but on the Jews as a people and thus cross a line,” he added.

The FJO expressed support for a police complaint against Verhulst, saying, “The border with regard to freedom of expression is very clearly indicated in Europe. Freedom of expression is limited and is therefore not absolute. Dimitri Verhulst too will have to respect the limits of freedom of expression.”

“What he has done is simply antisemitic: insulting the Jews as a people,” said Knoop. “And with that we think that a line has been crossed.”

The chief rabbi of the Netherlands, Binyomin Jacobs, has also harshly criticized Verhulst’s statements, calling them “pure antisemitism.”

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