Not a big deal in any grand sense. Just a small window into the unseemly insanity that is Europe’s official capital, as Haaretz reports:
Belgian Justice Minister Stefaan De Clerck shocked the country’s Jewish community by recently voicing support for an initiative to provide amnesty to Nazi collaborators during WWII, and for his suggestion that it may behoove the government to “forget” its Nazi past. During a television debate, De Clerck said that the country should not focus on the crimes it committed as it was already in the past.
In fairness there are plenty of crimes being committed now against Belgium’s Jews. The country’s anti-Semitism is partly why the safety of European Jews is at its lowest since the Second World War, with anti-Jewish attacks at postwar highs. So maybe De Clerck was saying that Belgians should focus on their present anti-Semitism rather than on their past anti-Semitism. But it doesn’t really seem like that’s what he was saying.
A recent study surveyed Brussels high schoolers and found “a very high rate” of anti-Jewish bigotry: 28% of students agreed with the statement that “Jews agitate for war and blame others” and 31% agreed with the statement “Jews want to dominate everything.” The study’s authors, knowing that multiculturalists would leap to insist that “root causes” were responsible for the violence-tinged ignorance, took pains to explain why that’s demonstrably false. Sociologist Mark Elchardus of Vrije Universiteit Brussel explained:
Worse, [in Brussels] anti-Jewish sentiments are unrelated to the level of education or poor social living conditions. . . . Antisemitism is theologically inspired. There is a direct link between being Muslim and anti-Semitic feelings. Catholics, too, are negative toward Jews too, but their sentiments are by far not as strong.”
Belgian politicians are following the theologically-grounded but nonetheless very real anti-Semitism of the Muslim voters who make up 30% of the Brussels electorate. That apparently extends to minimizing the Holocaust in deference to Muslim sensibilities, a trend that their British counterparts trailblazed by dropping the Holocaust from history lessons and reconsidering Holocaust Memorial Day on a national level.
But when Belgium serves as a base for anti-Israel agitation—as in when Belgian judges invoking Belgian laws indict former Israeli Prime Ministers—that’s supposed to be mere disagreement with Israeli policy. All the rest of Belgium’s weird sentiments about Jews are driven either by identifiable anti-Semitism or by political adherence to identifiable anti-Semitism. But when it comes to hostility toward Israeli Jews, Belgian and European pathologies are suddenly transformed into principled disagreement with another government. Nobody ever said that anti-Semites weren’t adept at dissembling their real views.