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September 23, 2019 9:54 am

Israeli Embassy in Belgium, European Jewish Association Criticize Antisemitic Sign-Language Gesture

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A screenshot of Flemish sign language for using a hooked nose to describe the word “Jew.” Photo: Screenshot. – The Israeli embassy in Belgium this week blasted an online dictionary of Flemish sign language for using a hooked nose to describe the word “Jew.”

The Israeli embassy on Twitter expressed “shock and dismay” regarding the “ugly initiative,” and said its “sole purpose is the promotion of #AntiSemitic stereotypes.” Emmanuel Nahshon, Israel’s ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg, called the gesture “Sickening. Beyond words.”

Online videos on the website of the dictionary, which was compiled in conjunction with Belgium’s University of Ghent, show the word “Jew” being signed three ways: by showing a hooked nose, displaying side-locks with fingers and by stroking an imaginary beard.

The European Jewish Association is demanding the removal of a “racist and humiliating” depiction from the online dictionary.

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The organization’s director, Menachem Margolin, said in a letter to the university, “If the aim of this project was to embellish or add to the standard definition, it has certainly managed to so, in the most stereotypical and racist way imaginable, by focusing on side-locks and worse still gesticulating a hooked nose to describe a Jew.”

“We certainly hope that such stereotypes do not reflect the policy of the university, nor your students,” he continued.

The online dictionary of Flemish sign-language gestures is nearly a decade-and-a-half old, according to the EJA. Lisa Rombouts, from the Flemish Sign Language Centre, said a new edition of the dictionary would be published that would “clarify these matters.”

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