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February 28, 2020 1:16 pm

Belgian MP Denounces ‘Jewish Lobby’ in Wake of Antisemitic Aalst Carnival

avatar by Ben Cohen

A antisemitic float on parade at the 2020 carnival in Aalst, Belgium. Photo: Reuters / Yves Herman.

A Belgian MP who previously served as the country’s deputy prime minister was roundly condemned on Friday following a tweet he posted concerning “the Jewish lobby.”

Vincent Van Quickenborne, who has sat in the lower house of the Belgian parliament since 2012, took to his Twitter feed on Thursday to denounce what he portrayed as outsize Jewish political influence in his own country and abroad.

“The Jewish lobby is working overtime. After Aalst, now Washington,” Van Quickenborne remarked.

His post linked to a news piece that quoted Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz urging a ban on the annual carnival in the Belgian city of Aalst, which prominently featured crudely antisemitic caricatures for a second year running. This was joined with an item about US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders releasing a video about his Jewish identity, along with the Vermont senator’s recent assertion that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a “racist.”

The 46-year-old Van Quickenborne has spent more than twenty years in Belgian politics, serving as a cabinet-level minister on three separate occasions. From 2011-12, he was Belgium’s deputy prime minister, resigning that post to become mayor of the Flemish city of Kortrijk. Currently, he represents the right-wing VLD Party in the Belgian Chamber of Representatives.

Thursday’s tweet drew sharp criticism from some of Van Quickenborne’s political colleagues.

“The ‘Jewish Lobby?’ “Am I really reading this? By a former minister, senator and current MP?” wrote Frédérique Ries, a Belgian member of the European Parliament.

Continued Ries: “This is clearly antisemitic speech. For your information, Mr. Van Quickenborne, dismay, disgust and shame at the sight of posters of Zyklon B [the poisonous gas used by the Nazis] on a deportation train in Aalst were global. This is not a Jewish affair. The fight against racism is global and the pride of our democracies.”

Claude Marinower — a Jewish colleague of Van Quickenborne in the VLD Party — responded simply, “The ‘Jewish lobby’… no, no, nothing has changed.”

Leading media commentator Yasmien Naciri accused Van Quickenborne of pandering to antisemitic conspiracy theories.

“You are confusing political decisions with Judaism / the Jews (a population group),” the Moroccan-born Naciri wrote. “A very dangerous tweet and exactly the same conspiracy theory are used by antisemites to express their hatred of the Jews.”

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