On September 10, the Belgium government announced it would send “non-political representation, possibly a diplomat,” to the UN’s event commemorating the 20th anniversary of the infamous World Conference on Racism (also known as “the Durban Conference”). “Durban IV” will occur on September 22 at the UN headquarters in New York.
In sharp contrast to Belgium, twenty democracies have announced plans not to attend Durban IV, protesting the antisemitism the process embodies. The original 2001 conference was characterized by virulent antisemitism, especially from participating NGOs.
Similarly, Belgium funds a number of NGOs with links to Palestinian terror groups, and which lead the political warfare and demonization targeting Israel (including BDS and “lawfare”) that was launched at Durban.
In addition, Brussels has been criticized for its apparent ambivalence in the face of antisemitism within its borders, involving politicians, senior government employees, government campaigns, and NGOs that promote antisemitism.
Belgian Funding for PFLP-Linked NGOs
In 2017-2021, Belgium granted at least €3 million in funding to projects involving Palestinian NGOs linked to the EU-designated terror group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
- In December 2019, employees of Palestinian NGOs funded by Belgium were arrested and are currently standing trial for their involvement in the August 2019 bombing and murder of a 17-year old Israeli, Rena Shnerb.
- In February 2020, Belgium invited a senior member of the PFLP-linked Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P) to brief the UN Security Council. Belgium rescinded the invitation following a public information campaign, in which NGO Monitor participated, that highlighted DCI-P’s link to terror.
- For more information, see NGO Monitor’s report on “Belgian Funding for PFLP-Linked NGOs.”
Antisemitism Promoted by Belgian Politicians and Government Programs
- Brussels announced plans to discontinue military protection provided to Jewish institutions across the country, despite the dangers they face, and offered no equivalent mechanism to guarantee the safety of Jewish Belgians.
- On July 11, 2021, Maram Stern, Vice President of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), documented antisemitism among the political elite in Belgium. The leader of the Flemish Green Party, Meyrem Almaci, accused Jews of subjecting Palestinians to the same treatment they endured during the Holocaust. On Twitter, Belgium’s Justice Minister, Vincent Van Quickenborne, wrote that “The Jewish lobby is working overtime… in Washington.”
- Belgian NGOs helped formulate and coordinate the government’s 2017-2021 Joint Strategic Framework (JSF), which outlines how Belgium distributes foreign development assistance in various regions. These NGOs, including the highly politicized Broederlijk Delen, Viva Salud, and OxfamSol, introduced a campaign to “mitigate the influence of pro-Israel voices” into the JSF.
Support for Terror by Belgian Ministry of Development Cooperation Employees
- Several employees of the Belgian Ministry of Development Cooperation, which is responsible for reviewing, approving, and distributing international aid to humanitarian projects in Gaza, have expressed support for acts of violence and Palestinian terrorists on social media, occasionally accompanied by antisemitic imagery. Catherine de Bock, for example, is the Spokesperson to Belgian Minister of Development Cooperation and Major Cities, Meryame Kitir. In 2017, de Bock wrote a Facebook post eulogizing a slain PFLP terrorist, who was also her father-in-law.
- For more information, see NGO Monitor’s report, “Support for Terror by Belgian Ministry of Development Cooperation Employees.”