Belgian ministry’s fleeting moments of truth about Israel
For a few fleeting moments a Belgian government establishment looked as if it were about to become Europe’s first official body to have a backbone but, alas, it was not to be.
According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), the Education Ministry of the Flemish Region of Belgium offered teachers comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany which were made available on the KlasCemen website, a major resource for trainee teachers.
The website featured a caricature by the famous Brazilian political cartoonist, Carlos Latuff, showing a Jewish man impaled on the fence of a concentration camp next to a man wearing a kafiyeh, a traditional Arab headdress, their limbs arranged in the form of a Nazi swastika. The caption “Never again” appears above the image of the Jew and the words “Over again!” are written at the Arab man’s right foot.
The image was part of an exercise in which teachers were asked to attach one of three statements to the cartoon: “This is a Palestinian fleeing Jews”, “Jews want the entire area of Palestine back” or “Jews call Palestine Israel”, the JTA reports.
However, the Israel flag-wavers’ lobby quickly mobilized and, after the Dutch-language Zionist newspaper Joods Actueel caused a fuss, the Flemish ministry had cold feet and removed the cartoon from the website, together with other material deemed offensive to Israel’s pimps.
This included a role-playing game in which one of the characters is described as follows: “You sympathize with the radical group Hamas. You live in Gaza and work in Israel. You were shocked by the slaying of a Palestinian girl by Israeli soldiers at a school playground. Israel denies that it fired the shots but UN representatives in Gaza indicate it did.”
Not just a game, you might think, but an understated representation of the pain and humiliation endured by Palestinians on a daily basis.