The Vlaams Belang Jinx

I’ve been banging the pan for several years now about Vlaams Belang, but to no great effect — everyone knows that those Vlaams Belang guys are bad, bad, bad neo-Nazis! It doesn’t matter what evidence there is to the contrary. It doesn’t matter that Filip Dewinter has been a staunch defender of the Jews of Antwerp. It doesn’t matter that Vlaams Belang was the only party in Belgium to publicly speak up in outrage against the vile Jew-hatred that went on in Brussels and Antwerp last winter during Operation Cast Lead.

Facts don’t matter. Evidence doesn’t matter. We know what we know, and nothing will change that. We don’t need no stinkin’ facts!

So it’s no surprise that once again Vlaams Belang is being smeared by Jews who should know better by now.

Back in October I reported on a complaint lodged with the European Commission by an Israeli lawyer and a Vlaams Belang politician. Their aim was to use the time-hallowed tactics of the Left, and hold the EU to account for failing to protect its citizens in Israel from rocket attacks by Hamas.

Now we have a follow-up to this story, which concerns an initiative by the European pro-Israel lobby “European Friends of Israel”, EFI. Dire warnings are being issued by liberal Jews in Israel and elsewhere against any association with the dreaded Vlaams Belang.

Hamas mural

Our Flemish correspondent VH has kindly collected and translated a batch of material on this issue. First, from Het Laatste Nieuws:

Israelis file complaint with Belgian judiciary against Hamas

Fifteen Israeli Belgians who were either injured or lost a relative in the war in Gaza (late 2008 — early 2009) are filing a complaint with the Belgian court against ten political and military leaders of Hamas. The fifteen are living in the vicinity of Gaza. This is what several Israeli newspapers have reported.

The complaint names Hamas leaders like Khaled Mashaal, who lives in Damascus, Prime Minister Ismaaïl Haniyah in Gaza, the former Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar, plus the military chiefs Ahmed Jabri and Mohammed Def.

Six applications for an arrest have been submitted, after six months of legal preparations. The complaint is based on “strict proof that links leaders of Hamas with terrorist attacks involving Belgian citizens who have suffered from it” as the papers quote lawyer Roel Coveliers. “I do not think that Belgium will lay the complaint aside,” he added.

Second legal complaint against a terrorist

Besides the Goldstone report, the complaint cites reports of international human rights organizations, Ha’aretz reports. It is the second legal complaint in recent months against a “terrorist organization” for attacks on Israelis, The Jerusalem Post writes.

On April 30 there were thirty Israelis who had been hit during the second war in Lebanon who filed a complaint with a court in Washington against North Korea and Hezbollah.

Also from Het Laatste Nieuws:
– – – – – – – –

Roel Coveliers has already received five Israeli cases

The Belgian lawyer Roel Coveliers has already received five cases from Israelis who want to file a complaint with the Belgian courts. “The Israeli lawyers with whom we work have fifteen cases, but for the present I have as yet only received five. The other cases will follow,” said Coveliers.

Rocket Attacks

The complainants live in Israel, but have Belgian nationality. “In the period between June 18, 2008 and January 18, 2009 they became the victims of rocket attacks. Two complainants were slightly injured thereby. All people had to flee their homes and have remained in camps since then, with all the attendant emotional and psychological problems. Their normal daily life is thoroughly disrupted,” the lawyer Coveliers explains.

War Crimes

The filing of the complaint is a first step. It is now up to the federal prosecutor to determine whether the complaint is admissible. Should that be the case, he must appoint an investigating judge. Coveliers points out that attacks which do not distinguish between military targets and civilian targets can be seen as war crimes. “But it is for the courts to decide. Whether we can actually manage to get one person to Belgium to be sentenced is questionable, but it will be an important step if an investigating judge were to investigate the matter.”

And a print article from an unspecified source, with no online link available yet:

Israelis file complaint against Hamas with Belgian judiciary

Fifteen Israelis with the Belgian nationality have filed a complaint with the Belgian courts against the radical Islamic movement Hamas, accusing it of committing war crimes by firing rockets from the Gaza Strip. That is what their lawyer Roel Coveliers made known this Thursday.

The complainants say they have become victims in varying degrees. Since Hamas took over power in Gaza in June 2007, thousands of stove-pipe projectiles have been fired on southern Israel, causing seven deaths.

The impetus for the legal action comes from the European pro-Israel lobby “European Friends of Israel” [EFI] and is a response to the attempts to try to bring Israeli leaders to international tribunals.

The complaint is based on the report of the South African judge Richard Goldstone. He accuses the Jewish state and Palestinian armed groups of “war crimes” during the Israeli Gaza offensive about one year ago. According to the Palestinians, there were 1,400 dead on their side, as they claim, mostly civilians.

The Belgian law provides that international crimes can be judged by Belgian courts when the victims are Belgians or at least had been living in Belgium for three months before the acts were committed.

Until 2003, the Belgian courts had universal jurisdiction in relation to alleged war crimes, thus without the suspected perpetrators or victims having a relationship with Belgium. But after a tsunami of complaints against, for instance, the former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and former U.S. president George Bush, this caused such a diplomatic storm that the Belgian Parliament abolished the law, although some elements have been included now in the criminal code.

Now comes the jellyfish:

Complaint by Israelis in Belgium: “PR disaster” due to involvement of Coveliers (Ha’aretz)

Belgian Jewish Organizations in Antwerp [actually, only one] and Israel strongly criticized the involvement of a leader of Vlaams Belang in a complaint by Israeli Belgians to the Belgian judicial authorities against Hamas, as the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported on Friday. The organizations warn of a “public relations disaster”.

At the initiative of a pro-Israeli lobby, the law office of Hugo Coveliers (Vlaams Belang) has filed the request with the Belgian court to sentence Hamas leaders in Gaza because Israel they have caused damage to Belgians living in Israel.

“The involvement of (Coveliers) […] is very stupid,” said Eli Ringer, Vice Chairman of the Forum of Jewish Organizations in Belgium. “From a PR perspective in Belgium this is a catastrophe”. VB is no movement with which Israel should be associated in the Belgian political discourse. From a practical point of view, the initiatives of Vlaams Belang guys are not taken seriously.”

“[…] The idea has little chance of success in Belgium, even without the involvement,” of VB, said David Lowy, founder of a group of Belgian immigrants, “Jobi”. “To involve them with this is like shooting yourself in the foot or making an own-goal. Having Vlaams Belang out there defending the Israeli position only makes this more difficult to defend.”

On behalf of the lobbying group European Initiative, Director Uri Jablonka contended that the “only link” to Coveliers and his lawyers is that they “represent our lawsuit,” on a strictly professional basis.

VH notes:

It’s not “VB out there”, as Eli Ringer, Vice Chairman of the Forum of Jewish Organizations in Belgium says, suggesting that the law firm and VB are the same — although VB may indeed be the only party in Belgium (together with LDD of Dedecker) defending Israel. Even the left-wing Roth Institute on anti-Semitism in Tel Aviv, which also denounces VB, states:

In September 2008, MEP Frank Vanhecke, one of the leaders of Vlaams Belang, was interviewed by Israel’s Ha’aretz after the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs decided to lift his immunity (see below). Vanhecke said he was aware that many Jews viewed Vlaams Belang as anti-Semitic, but that this “misconception” was due in part to a “grave error” on the part of some Flemish secessionists who had sided with the Nazis in the 1940s “only as a misguided and naïve attempt to achieve independence.” He also referred to “the unacceptable behavior of a few weeds” who associated themselves with the party, adding: “They say I’m anti-Semitic when the truth is I am one of Israel’s staunchest defenders in the European Parliament.” Unlike its Flemish counterparts, the French-speaking right has never put anti-Semitism on hold.

The same Roth Institute thus also criticizes the VB background of the director of Coveliers’ law firm, finally discovering in 2008 that “Among all progressive and leftist circles, the Jew who does not openly disown the State of Israel is considered the enemy of humankind. Indymedia Belgium […] is one of the vectors of radical anti-Zionism and the new anti-Semitism. […] For contemporary Belgian opposition to Israel serves the interests of many components of its society, on the left as well as on the right. […] Unlike its Flemish counterparts, the French-speaking right has never put anti-Semitism on hold.”

In 2008 Eli Ringer, the Vice Chairman of the Forum of Jewish Organizations [FJO] in Belgium, stated to Ha’aretz that “should Vlaams Belang visit Jerusalem [Filip Dewinter was invited by Professor Eldad for a conference], there will be a real mess, because it will break the Jewish boycott of this problematic and xenophobic entity.”

However, Hans Knoop, the FJO Forum-partner of Eli Ringer, states: “I have lived twenty years in Belgium,” said Knoop [who emigrated there from the Netherlands]. “When I came here, the Jewish community then viewed the Vlaams Blok, now Vlaams Belang, as a great danger because they were against foreigners. Now everything is seen as a threat except Vlaams Belang, which on the basis of the anti-Islam agenda clearly makes overtures.”

Not to mention Eli Ringer’s counterpart in the Netherlands, “Een Ander Joods Geluid” [Another Jewish Voice], which openly sides with left-wing and extreme left-wing Hamas supporters like the anti-Wilders “Netherlands Admits Color” [international Socialists, supporters of Hamas], Netherlands Palestine Committee [supporters of PLO and Hamas] and Vrouwen in het Zwart [Woman in Black, left-wing pro-Hamas group] who demand that Israel to withdraw fully and unconditionally from all occupied [sic] Palestine territories.”

HoeiBoei wrote: “Too bad in the case of Another Jewish Voice (EAJG) that in their criticism of Israel they are blind to the anti-Semitism of fundamentalist terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas.”

Finally, VH includes some additional information about EFI:

There are pictures and material on this page, and activities are listed here.

From the activities list:

Israeli Ambassador Gideon Meir makes no apology for his government’s hard-handed approach towards the Palestinians. He tells Kurt Sansone that Israelis are fed up with ceding land for peace and getting war in return.

Finally someone who says what should be said — this is the Wilders tone, a splendid interview with Gideon Meir here:

There is a new government that was elected by the Israeli people and it is the people who have made it clear that they are fed up. For 16 years we made concessions, giving up land for peace and peace did not come. The key word is negotiation. This means that the two parties talk and both make concessions. But what do we have until now? Israel gave up land and in return all it got was more war, more terror.

There is also an excellent article by Magdi Christiano Allam.

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