BRUSSELS (EJP) ---Belgian Interior Minister Joelle Milquet “condemned “ Tuesday “attacks of an anti-Semitic nature” waged against a Socialist Party (PS) candidate in next Sunday’s municipal elections in Belgium.
Yves Goldstein, a senior advisor to Health Minister Laurette Onkelinx, who is placed second on the party’s list system for Schaerbeek, one of 19 Brussels constituencies, was accused of being a “Zionist” by rival candidates from the same constituency, which is home to a large Muslim community from Turkish and Moroccan origins.
Minister Onkelinx announced Monday she had made a complaint against an unnamed person to the judiciary as well as the Centre for Equal Opportunities, an independent body, on the grounds of “incitement to racial hatred”.
Onkelinx especially condemned a Turkish language leaflet, delivered to numerous households in the constituency, denouncing Goldstein as a “Jew” and an “active Zionist”, as well as claiming that “the Socialist Party hierarchy have placed an enemy of our religion and our nation in charge”.
Belgian daily Le Soir reported a “virtual campaign” conducted by text message alleging that “voting for a Zionist is like stabbing the Palestinians in the back”.
Furthermore, the so-called Equality Party, which has fielded candidates in eight constituencies in the Belgian capital mainly deriving from the Muslim community, and which claims in its party manifesto “that Hamas must be removed from the list of terrorist organisations”, has also launched anti-Semitic attacks against Goldstein, insisting that “a vote for the PS in Schaerbeek is a vote for Zionism”.
One of the party’s candidates, Nordin Saidi, notably wrote on Facebook: “which other candidate on the PS list apart from Laurette Onkelinx would accept running alongside a former director of the (Belgian Jewish umbrella organisation) CCOJB, whose manifesto states that it is “an association which supports, by whatever means possible, the State of Israel and spiritual Jewish centres and protects the aggressive Jewish community”.
Similar attacks have also been registered in the same constituency from the list of the incumbent mayor Bernard Clerfayt. One of the list candidate, Adnan Bel Khatir,wrote: “I’m told that being an active Zionist is no obstacle to being a PS candidate in Schaerbeek? Why not enter a Hamas party member in the mayoral elections.”
For Yves Goldstein, “if the campaign continues in this vein, political opponents and mayoral candidates in particular will play no role further role in Schaerbeek. As I canvas the area and campaign door-to-door, constituents don’t ask me if I’m Jewish, but how we plan to keep their roads clean and update the metro. I’m aware of opponents using this argument, but it hasn’t permeated the wider community”.
The Minister for the Interior, who is also responsible for the Equal Opportunities portfolio, “condemned in the strongest terms incitement as well as attacks of an anti-Semitic nature, relating to literature and viral messages against a local election candidate in Schaerbeek”, according to a statement released by his office.
Occupying the PS’s second spot on its party list, preceded only by a cabinet minister, could give Goldstein the post of mayor of Schaerbeek, should his party triumph in Sunday’s elections.