Union des Progressistes Juifs de Belgique (UPJB)
|In their own words||UPJB is Jewish diaspora organization…we made the choice to live where the hazard of migrations…made us born, without having fixed eyes to a particular motherland |
- L’Union des Progressistes Juifs de Blegique (UPJB) does not publish financial information, reflecting a lack of transparency and accountability.
- UPJB has received Belgian government funding (Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles) since 2003, including funding for its “Permanent Education and Youth” and “General Affaires/ Cultural Centers” projects.
- UPJB is a Belgian Jewish organization that regularly engages in politicized activities, including supporting BDS campaigns against Israel.
- In November 2022, UPJB issued a joint statement denouncing the decision by the Belgian House of Representatives to withdraw a controversial photo exhibit hosted by Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P) and Broederlijk Delen in the Belgium Chamber of Representatives titled “Military detention is no way to treat a child.” According to the statement, “We protest against the claim of these two organizations to speak on behalf of all Jewish associations, which contributes to feeding the detestable amalgamation between defenders of Israeli colonialism and the Jewish population as a whole.”
- Numerous individuals with alleged ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist organization designated as such by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel, have been employed and appointed as board members at DCI-P. For more information on DCI-P’s PFLP ties, read NGO Monitor’s report “Defense for Children International – Palestine’s Ties to the PFLP Terror Group.”
- On October 22, 2021, the Israeli Ministry of Defense declared Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P) a “terror organization” because it is part of “a network of organizations” that operates “on behalf of the ‘Popular Front’.”
- In September 2022, UPJB issued a press release “reject[ing] the use of the IHRA definition, which has been scrutinized and discredited by many scholars of antisemitism and Jewish scholars for conflating antisemitism with legitimate criticism of State of Israel.” According to the statement, “We reject the use of anti-Semitism as a cynical tool to silence any legitimate criticism of the injustice that occurs daily in Israel/Palestine.”
- The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, adopted by nearly 30 countries and counting, represents the international consensus definition of antisemitism, as well as how to distinguish between legitimate criticism of Israel and antisemitism. An example of the latter includes denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
- In October 2021, UPJB was a signatory on a joint statement condemning the decision by the Israeli Ministry to designate six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations. According to the statement, “At a time when the reality of the apartheid regime exercised by Israel over the Palestinian people is increasingly recognized and exposed, at a time also when the Palestinian Authority is experiencing an unprecedented authoritarian drift, the role of Palestinian civil society as the last bulwark against the violation of Palestinian human rights is essential.”
- In August 2021, UPJB published an open letter on its website “refus[ing] to accept the Judeo-supremacist regime…This objective is manifested in the continued acts of ethnic cleansing through expulsions and demolitions, brutal military occupation, denial of civil and human rights, and the legislation of a series of racist laws.” The letter also claimed that “Zionism is an unethical principle of governance, which inherently leads to a racist apartheid regime that has been committing war crimes and denying the basic human rights of Palestinians for over seven decades.”
- UPJB organized an event at their facilities on March 3, 2017 at which two members of the politicized French organization UNION JUIVE FRANCAISE POUR LA PAIX, Sarah Katz and Pierre Stambul, “will describe the cage of Gaza using pictures.” Gaza is further characterized as “a cage buckled on the floor…Gaza is a laboratory where the Israeli occupant experiments every two-three years the most sophisticated weapons against a disarmed population. Gaza is regularly defamed as terrorists, fundamentalists. Defamed by those who committed numerous war crimes and war against humanity. Yet, in Gaza, they resist peacefully… they discuss politics in the wider diversity.” These statements completely ignore the violence taking place under the Hamas-led government as well as Israel’s legitimate security concerns.
- During the 2014 Gaza war, a member of UPJB’s board of directors, Michel Staszewski, “denounced the racist policy of Israel that resembles apartheid between Palestinians and Israeli settlers.” According to Staszewski, Gaza is an “open air prison.”
- In an article titled “The Dark Side of the Mensch,” UPJB accused Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel of being “militant” and of supporting “judaization (that is to say ethnic cleansing) of the Palestinian quarters of Jerusalem.”
- In 2006, condemned the Israeli operation to release the kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, accusing Israel of “‘state terrorism’ that punishes collectively, again, a Palestinian population already terribly weakened and humiliated by the occupation.”
- In 2006, referring to the Second Lebanon War, UPJB president Dr. Jacques Ravedovitch accused the Israeli Prime Minister of being a “war criminal,” and stated that “Resistance in Palestine and Lebanon is justified. Israel is an invader. I do not approve of Hamas killing innocent people, but I defend that if there are invaders there will be resistance at the same time.”
- In February 2022, UPJB participated in a campaign titled “#StopTradeWithSettlements,” calling “for an EU law that will end trade with illegal settlements once and for all.”
- In February 2022, UPJB called on the Security Council to “impose a strict embargo on arms transfers – arms and ammunition, as well as law enforcement equipment – to Israel,” as well as “impose sanctions, such as the freezing of assets, against the Israeli officials most implicated in the crime of apartheid.”
- In May 2021, UPJB participated in a rally calling on the Belgian government to “recognize that Israel has become an apartheid state and to draw the consequences by acting, to the fullest extent of its possibilities,” including “sanctioned politically and economically.”
- In April 2020, UPJB was a signatory on a letter to the European Union calling to “Immediately take all economic and political measures, including sanctions and retaliatory measures under international law, to pressure Israel to end the siege of Gaza.”
- Signatory to a 2017 statement marking the anniversaries of the 1917 Balfour declaration, the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan, and the “beginning of Israel’s occupation in 1967.” The statement calls on the international community “to cease all complicity with continued settlement activity and the myriad of ways that Israel violates international law,” and for “the suspension of the EU’s Association Agreement with Israel.” The statement condemns the 1947 UN partition plan, claiming it “resulted in the 1948 Nakba, the demolition of more than 530 Palestinian villages and the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland, and is thus a process of ethnic cleansing”; and claims that European countries “made Palestine carry the consequences of the monstrous genocide of the European Jews by the Nazis; and subsequently they did nothing to require that Israel respect UN resolutions.”
- Justifies its support for BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns against Israel by stating that there is a “failure of the ‘international community’” to act against the “occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years and illegal under international law.” UPJP furthers that it works to “isolate Israel politically and economically as long as it does not conform to international law, as a means to save it from the suicidal actions of its government,” and to “Boycott to tear down the walls!”
- Canceled its participation in the 2014 Brussels Jewish Film Festival after discovering that the Israeli Embassy was a sponsor of the festival, stating that “We do not want to support Israel as an occupying and colonialist state in any manner.”
- In 2004, published a press release together with the Association Belgo- Palestinienne (ABP) “against the Israeli apartheid wall.” The document omitted the context of violence and terror in which the security barrier was built. The organizations also called upon the Belgian government to act within the European Union in order to adopt sanctions against the State of Israel, and particularly to suspend the Association Agreement between the EU and Israel.
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