On December 12, 2019, the Belgian Catholic NGO Pax Christi Vlaanderen (Flanders) will award its “ambassador for peace” prize to Brigitte Herremans, a leading anti-Israel activist and former employee of the BDS-supporting organization Broederlijk Delen. The event is scheduled to be held at Kazerne Dossin “a transit camp from which Belgian Jews and Romani were sent to concentration camps during the Holocaust.” Today, Kazerne Dossin serves also as a Memorial, Museum, and Documentation Centre about the Holocaust and human rights.
The selection of this venue draws a false equivalence between Nazi war crimes and Israeli policy, a violation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.
In an October 2019 article announcing the prize recipients, Pax Christi Vlaanderen justified its selection of Herremans, stating that her “way of looking and speaking bears witness to a desire to understand the conflicts in the Middle East and to interpret them as honestly as possible.”
Until February 2018, Brigitte Hermanns worked as a “Policy officer Middle East” for the BDS Catholic Brussels-based organization Broederlijk Delen. Broderlijk Delen is a major funder of numerous NGOs active in delegitimization campaigns against Israel, including Defense for Children International – Palestine, a group with ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group.
- In September 2016, Broederlijk Delen’s organized a “Peace Journey” to Israel with Pax Christi Flanders. Due to the Israeli policy of denying entry to leading BDS activists, Herremans was denied entry when the trip landed in Israel on September 9, 2016.
- In an interview on Flemish Radio 1 on September 12, 2016, Herremans called for “sanctions against Israel” and to “subject Israeli citizens who come to Belgium to interrogation.” In the same interview, when asked about reports that showed a rise in antisemitism in Belgium, Herremans accused “Israel’s allies” of “inflating” the level of antisemitism in order to “distract from its treatment of Palestinians” (emphasis added).
Pax Christi Vlaanderen
Pax Christi Vlaanderen is the Flemish branch of Pax Christi International, which states that “the strategy of the BDS movement (Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions) is one of the possible non-violent approaches to exert international pressure on Israel.”
Pax Christi Vlaanderen is a signatory of the “Made in Illegality” campaign in Belgian, which calls on Belgium and France to “end its economic relations with Israeli settlements.” The campaign’s demands include banning Belgian import of all “settlement products,” discouraging Belgian companies “from investing in settlements,” and preparing information for travelers “to ensure that they avoid supporting companies and tourist sites that are located in the settlements.”
According to financial reports submitted to Donorinfo, a Belgian transparency organization, in 2018, Pax Christi Vlaanderen received €572,535 in “public subsidies” out of a total revenue of €780,918. In 2019, the Culture, Youth and Media Department of the Flemish government provided Pax Christi Vlaanderen with €382,789. In 2020, the Flemish government budgeted another €359,823 to the NGO.