On September 9th, the Belgian Catholic aid groups Broederlijk Delen and PAX Christi Flanders began a “Familiarization Trip to Israel and Palestine” (running until September 18). The trip was supposed to be led by Brigitte Herremans, of the Middle East Desk for Pax Christi and Broederlijk Delen.
Upon arriving in Tel Aviv, Herremans was denied entry by Israeli officials and returned to Belgium. She tweeted that her expulsion demonstrated “Israeli fear of human rights activists” (translated from Flemish). The deputy Prime Minister of Belgium Alexander de Croo expressed his “regret” at the expulsion as well.
Herremans is a major anti-Israel activist who directs Broederlijk Delen statements and funding on the conflict. She pushed the EU “to confront Israel” over “systematic violations of international law.” The NGO signed the 2012 report “Trading Away Peace” promoting EU economic sanctions and product labeling. Broederlijk Delen also signed the NGO statement urging the Belgian government to resist calls to legislate against BDS.
Past trips visited the Balata refugee camp, Yes Theater in Hebron, and the Palestinian Medical Relief Society. One participant wrote “We could see how the Wall dividing works on the main road in Bethlehem between two brothers from the same family, between the farmer and his land, between a sick person and help in the hospital. For most Palestinians, according to our guide, the wall is meant to do with territorial expansion of Israel. The argument of security (for Israel) makes no sense. The wall telling – stories, drawings, poems, graffiti – the daily life of the Palestinians under occupation, which they perceived as apartheid. “- Jan and Marjon (Translated from Dutch).
Participants are told to read Morning in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa and Jerusalem by Guy Delisle. After the trip they are encouraged to educate their communities about what they learned, and assist in training future participants.
Briederlijk Delen funds radical BDS and one-state NGOs including Zochrot, Badil, Coalition of Women for Peace, Defense for Children International-Palestine, and Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling.