Monday, 22 Jul 2019 - 19 of Tammuz, 5779

Flemish politician denounces protest calling for a boycott of Eurovision song contest in Tel Aviv, ‘I am a friend of Israel,’ says Bart De Wever

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”Antwerp is the sister city of Haifa. I have been there and also to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. I have seen people of different faiths come together in Jerusalem safely and unharmed thanks to the governance of Israel,’’ he declared, adding : ‘’If you are looking for a democracy in the Mideast there is only one place to go.’’

 

BRUSSELS —Around thirty activists led on Tuesday a protest against the currrent organisation of the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel, in front of the entrances of Belgian public francophone and flemish public broadcasters channels RTBF and VRT. The called for a boycott of the event by the channels. 

The protesters symbolically chained themselves to the entrance of the buildings to denounce what they called “the daily reality of the occupation in Palestine’’.  They called on the tv channels not to broadcast the event this week. A spokesperson for RTBF said that the access to the premises was not impeded. “They sent e-mails explaining their position, which is quite respectable.”  The channel will however broadcast the Eurovision.  “The Eurovision Song Contest is an apolitical event,” the spokeswoman said. The first semi-final of the contest took place Tuesday night. The second will take place on Thursday and the final on Saturday night.

Flemish politician accused of being ‘a friend of Israel’ 

During the protest action, the activists blocked the car of Bart De Wever, the mayor of Antwerp and leader of the Flemish nationalist N-VA (New Flemish Alliance) party, who came to be interviewed.

De Wever  was forced out of his car by the protesters who accused him of being a friend of Israel. He later declared, at a conference of European rabbis organized in his city, that ‘’antisemitism has found new expressions, new faces, to the left of the political spectrum. We have to stand together and denounce it.’’

He confirmed as being  a ‘’friend of Israel.’’ ‘’I have no trouble whatsoever saying that.Antwerp is the sister city of Haifa. I have been there and also to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. I have seen people of different faiths come together in Jerusalem safely and unharmed thanks to the governance of Israel,’’ he declared, adding : ‘’If you are looking for a democracy in the Mideast there is only one place to go.’’

De Wever, whose party is expected to come out in first position in Flanders in general elections later this month,  pointed out to the fact that Antwerp is called the ‘’Jerusalem of the North.’’ ‘’We have had a Jewish community since the 14th century. Jews can call the city their home and we cherish their presence,’’ he said.

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