Search

 

Cablegate: Belgium: Jewish Leaders Concerned by Anti-Semitism

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBS #1556/01 3241521
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 201521Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9708

UNCLAS BRUSSELS 001556

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR DRL/SEAS, EUR/OHI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV SCUL IS BE
SUBJECT: BELGIUM: JEWISH LEADERS CONCERNED BY ANTI-SEMITISM
AND ISRAEL'S SECURITY

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: A diverse range of opinions were voiced
at the
October 21 Jewish Leader roundtable. Anti-Semitism in Belgium
expresses itself through youth violence and a common fear of
wearing
Jewish religious symbols in public since the second intifada
in
2000. At one tenth the size of the Muslim community in
Belgium,
Jews lack public political support and face an anti-Israel
bias in
the media. The community is concerned with the Obama
Administration's policies not being sufficiently
"pro-Israel." END
SUMMARY.


2. (SBU) Ambassador Howard Gutman hosted 22 diverse leaders
of the
fragmented Jewish Community of Belgium on October 21. For
even-handed Jewish outreach, the group recommended that he
address
both the Flemish and Francophone Jewish communities. The
group's
main concerns were anti-Semitism in Belgium and support for
Israel.


Background on Jewish Community in Belgium
-----------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Approximately 40,000 Jews currently live in
Belgium. The
Jews are geographically fragmented with an estimated 20,000 in
Brussels, 10,000 in Antwerp, 5,000 in Liege and 5,000 in
Ghent. The
community is also divided into many segments, from reform to
ultra-orthodox. The two main umbrella organizations in
Belgium are
the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Organizations in Belgium
(CCOJB) for Wallonia and Brussels and the Forum of Jewish
Organizations (FORUM) for Flanders. Outsiders see the
community as
still "wounded", due to the loss of half the Jews in Belgium
in the
holocaust during the Second World War.

Anti-Semitism in Belgium
------------------------

4. (SBU) The group said that anti-Semitism in Belgium
manifested
itself mainly through youth violence. Fear of violence in
Brussels
from Muslim youth often prevents the Jewish community wearing
religious symbols in public. With a more concentrated
community in
Antwerp, violence is less of a concern. Anti-Semitic attacks
in
Belgium commenced with the second intifada in 2000 and
continue to
mirror events in the Middle East. Violence in Belgium spiked
during
Israel's Gaza incursion in January 2009, with 47 anti-Semitic
acts
being committed compared with only seven the year before.

5. (SBU) Participants asserted that no discrimination exists
professionally towards Jews, allowing them to reach the
pinnacle of
their professions. Moreover, Belgium is the only country in
Western
Europe that has an official law sanctioning denial of the
holocaust.


6. (SBU) Due to its small size, the Jewish community sees
itself
as "electorally irrelevant." Facing a Muslim community over
ten
times larger (500,000 people) the group understood the lack of
public support by politicians to the community. Some
participants
asserted that the Belgian media is strongly anti-Israel, and,
by
association, negative towards Jewish Belgians, reinforcing
politicians' reluctance to publically appear pro-Israel.
However,
in private the Jewish community enjoys considerable
influence, with


the Belgian Prime Minister Van Rompuy choosing to speak at
the 50th
Anniversary of a Jewish organisation (CCLJ) over attending
Ambassador Gutman's welcome reception. In addition, the
Belgian
government led significant restitution efforts to restore
confiscated finances in the Belgian banking sector to
survivors in
the Jewish community.

Concerns about the Obama Administration
---------------------------------------

7. (SBU) The group was united in support of Israel. There
were
general concerns as to whether President Obama would apply
even
pressure on both the Palistians and Israelis, while
attempting to
broker peace in the Middle East. The group was also worried
by the
increasing Iranian security threat towards Israel and wanted
to
learn more about the Obama Administration's policy on this
issue.

GUTMAN
.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

ALRANZ: Denounces US Senate Confirmation Of Judge Barrett

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa denounces the US Senate’s confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court seat formerly held by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. “This action demonstrates the rank hypocrisy of the once-respected upper chamber ... More>>

OECD: COVID-19 Crisis Puts Migration And Progress On Integration At Risk, Says

Watch the live webcast of the press conference Migration flows have increased over the past decade and some progress has been made to improve the integration of immigrants in the host countries. But some of these gains may be erased by the COVID-19 pandemic ... More>>

Reporters Without Borders: Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing Marred By Barriers To Open Justice

After monitoring four weeks of evidence in the US extradition proceedings against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates concern regarding the targeting of Assange for his contributions to journalism, and calls ... More>>

OHCHR: Stranded Migrants Need Safe And Dignified Return – UN Migrant Workers Committee

The UN Committee on Migrant Workers has today called on governments to take immediate action to address the inhumane conditions of migrant workers who are stranded in detention camps and ensure they can have an orderly, safe and dignified return to ... More>>