BRUSSELS—Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders has declined to characterize anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism and criticized the Israeli government’s policy of ‘’colonization.’’
‘’One must make a distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism because in Belgium like in other countries unfortunately the Middle East conflict is being imported. One has the right to oppose the position of a government in Israel, in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world. This doesn’t mean that you are against a community or a larger population,’’ the minister said in an interview with Radio Judaica, the Belgian Jewish community’s radio.
Belgium has not endorsed the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) Working Definition of Anti-Semitism which does not use the phrase “anti-Zionism” but does say that 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,” is anti-Semitic. Zionism is the movement which supported first the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in what is now the state of Israel.
Earlier this year, French President Emmanuel Macron desribed Anti-Zionism as ‘’one of the modern forms of anti-Semitism” and said his country would adopt an international definition of anti-Semitism.
In the interview, Didier Reynders said that the use of another term than antisemitism ‘’opens the door for the importation of debates on the Middle East conflict which can be confusing.’’
Regarding the ties between his country and Israel, the minister stressed the friendly relations in terms of cultural and economical exchanges.
‘’On the political side, we have sometimes very important disagreements when important violations of human rights are committed,’’ he said, adding that ‘’this is also mentioned each time such violations take place elsewhere in the world or in the region.’’
He declared that he had often mentioned to the Israeli authorities ‘’that the policy of colonization is contrary to international law and cannot be accepted.’’
‘’I fear that for the moment there is neither on the side of the Israeli government nor the Palestinian Authority a real wish to renew a dialogue for a two-state solution which I think is the only practicable solution for the Middle East.’’
Belgium was among the 14 members of the UN Security Council who recently opposed the US move to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Minister Reynders spoke of the Golan Heigths as ‘’occupied territories following a conflict.’’
He said: ‘’I regret the unilateral measures taken by the U.S. administration since two years which do not facilitate the situation. What is damaging in the American position is that they act unilaterally without coming with propositions to seek a dialogue. This was also the case when they moved the American embassy to Jerusalem. I am convinced that Jerusalem will one day be the capital of two states.’’