Today, along with 17 other cities around the world, we delivered our petition to our local Facebook office in Brussels to make sure Facebook gets our message: do not add “Zionist” to your hate speech policy! Equating “Zionist” and “Jew” undermines our efforts to dismantle antisemitism, prevents Palestinians from expressing their viewpoints, and shields the Israeli government from accountability.
Letter to Keren Kayemet Le’Israël (Jewish National Fund) Belgium – Luxemburg
L’Union des Progressistes Juifs de Belgique (UPJB) and Een Andere Joodse Stem (EAJS) call on the KKL-JNF to refrain from uprooting the Sumarin family, a Palestinian family of 18 members, from their East Jerusalem home.
In these times of a global health crisis, the importance of a home is clear. Nevertheless, the KKL-JNF is intensifying these days its efforts to evict the Sumarin family from the home in which they have been living for several generations. On June 30th, the KKL-JNF will demand the evacuation of the family in Jerusalem’s district court.
The attempts to evict the Sumarin family are based on a draconian application of Israeli legislation that was imposed on the Palestinian residents in the territories occupied by Israel in the June 1967 war, which ended exactly 53 years ago. Within the severe injustice and the wide range of human rights violations that this ongoing occupation creates, evicting the Sumarin family stands out as an act of abject cruelty, especially in these times. The KKL-JNF should immediately renounce all claims to the property, cease all legal proceedings against the family, and let the family live in peace and safety in their own home.
As the official representatives of KKL-JNF in Belgium, you are carrying responsibility towards the Belgian public to the activities of the organization that you represent. We therefore ask you to publicly renounce the evacuation of the Sumarin family, and to announce the central bodies of KKL-JNF that you stop your fundraising activities in Belgium until this issue is resolved. Otherwise, you will be perceived by the Belgian Jewish communities and the wider Belgian public as complicit in this severe case of human rights violations and injustice.
Union des Progressistes Juifs de Belgique (UPJB) | firstname.lastname@example.org
Andere Joodse Stem (EAJS) | email@example.com
Thursday, 12 March 2020, 20:00 (doors 19:30)
Location: Het Goudblommeke in Papier (La Fleur en Papier Doré)
Cellebroersstraat 55 Rue des Alexiens, 1000 Brussels
An English-speaking event | Free entry (donations are welcome)
In 1948, more than 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from the territory of the newly established Israeli state, a historical event remembered by Palestinians as the ‘Nakba’ (Arabic for catastrophe). Around 400 Palestinian towns and villages were emptied and largely erased, not only physically, but also from the Israeli collective memory. In some places, Jewish immigrants from North African and Middle Eastern countries were settled in the formerly Palestinian villages. However, this history is missing from school textbooks, popular culture, and even from political programs allegedly aimed to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (such as the recent Trump plan).
In this public event of Een Andere Joodse Stem / A Different Jewish Voice, we will highlight these unspoken components of the Palestinian-Israeli history and discuss their erasure from the Israeli collective memory. EAJS members, visual artists Sirah Foighel Brutmann and Eitan Efrat, will present their work “Orientation” (2015, 12 min.), and lead a discussion on remembrance and forgetting, their meaning and representation.
HD video, color, 16:9, stereo sound, BE, 2015, 12’
Produced by Argos, Centre for Art and Media, Brussels, with the support of VAF and Beursschouwburg, Brussels.
Looking at two locations— the public sculpture White Square commemorating the founders of Tel Aviv, and the shrine of Palestinian village Salame in today’s Israeli Kafar Shalem—Orientation focuses on the ability of architectural material, and of sound and image, to register collective forgetfulness.
Sirah Foighel Brutmann and Eitan Efrat (both born in Tel Aviv in 1983) have been working in collaboration for several years and are creating works in the Audiovisual field. They live and work in Brussels.
Sirah and Eitan’s practice focuses on the performative aspects of the moving image. In their work they aim to mark the spatial and durational potentialities of reading of images – moving or still; the relations between spectatorship and history; the temporality of narratives and memory and the material surfaces of image production.
Their works have been shown in solo and group exhibitions and film festivals across Belgium and Europe. They are currently teaching at ERG (École de recherche graphique) in Brussels.
Friday, 14 February 2020, 20:00
Elcker Ik Centrum, Breughelstraat 31, 2018 Antwerpen
On January 28th, US president Trump presented a plan which he claimed could solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. From the moment of its presentation, the inability of the plan to achieve this aim was evident. Only Israeli prime minister Netanyahu was present. Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian National Authority, refused to accept the plan, which did not take into account any of the Palestinian concerns or interests. Critiques of the plan denounced it as normalizing a reality of apartheid and denying the rights of the Palestinian refugees. Indeed, Israeli politicians were quick to announce that the plan supports their long-awaited aspirations to officially annex parts of the West Bank to Israel, intentions that are partially supported also by Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s main challenger in the coming Israeli elections on March 2nd. Belgian and European leaders have kept an ambivalent position towards the plan, refusing to pose a significant challenge to American hegemony or to the continuous violation of Palestinian human rights by Israel.
To reverse the manner in which Trump’s plan and Israeli policies ignore the Palestinian people, Een Andere Joodse Stem/ Another Jewish Voice is inviting two prominent Palestinian activists to express their views on the plan, as well as on the current impasse in which Palestinians are given and the possibilities to move forward. We are proud to host:
Inès Abdel Razek, advocacy director for the Palestine Institute of Public Diplomacy, a Palestinian advocacy NGO based in Ramallah
Mahmoud AbuRahma, who managed the international advocacy and litigation program at Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights in Gaza for 18 years, and is now working on anti-racism in Europe.
They will be joined by Dr. Itamar Shachar, a member of Een Andere Joodse Stem. He has previously worked in the Israeli human rights organization Gisha – Legal Center for the Freedom of Movement, and is currently an FWO postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Sociology at Ghent University.
The discussion will take place in English, but we welcome the participation of the audience also in Dutch, Arabic or Hebrew.
You are all welcome to join us on Friday, 14 February 2020, at 20:00, at Elcker Ik Centrum, Breughelstraat 31, 2018 Antwerpen. The entrance is free of charge.
In a glaring spectacle of colonial hubris, American and Israeli leaders – without any Palestinian partners – have presented a plan allegedly aimed to settle the historical conflict in Israel-Palestine, completely ignoring Palestinian needs and interests. The plan aims to suppress Palestinian aspirations for independence and freedom, to confine the Palestinians to an Apartheid-like system of Bantustans, and to null the rights of the Palestinian refugees.
This spectacle is aimed to assist Trump and Netanyahu to gain public popularity as they both face serious corruption allegations and upcoming elections. At the same time, the unilateral character of their steps is aimed to put the blame on Palestinian leadership for their refusal to take part in this futile spectacle. It nurtures the Israeli sense of entitlement to annex parts of the occupied territories and trade the citizenship of its Arab-Palestinian residents, which unfortunately seems to be shared both by Netanyahu and his main contester in the coming elections Benny Gantz.
The denial of the basic human rights of Palestinians is against the most fundamental values of humanism and equality that Een Andere Joodse Stem/Another Jewish Voice is committed to. We share this commitment with the United Nations and with most countries across the globe, and call them to reject Trump’s plan outright. EAJS will continue to struggle against the oppression and de-humanization of Palestinians, and for justice in response to the historical wrongs committed by the state of Israel. This is the only way to establish the basis for equality and mutual respect between Palestinians and Israelis, and to secure peace and prosperity in the area.
On Saturday, 12 October 2019, 15:30 (doors open at 15:00)
at the Spiegelzaal, De Markten Gemeenschapscentrum
Oude Graanmarkt 5, 1000 Brussel
Een Andere Joodse Stem (Another Jewish Voice, Belgium) is proud to host a public lecture of Sarit Michaeli, international advocacy officer of B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.
Sarit Michaeli’s talk will focus on the systematic shirking of Israel’s obligation under international law to ensure accountability for the killing and injury of Palestinians by its security forces, and on how This ongoing state of affairs is one of the cornerstones of the occupation and of Israel’s control of the Palestinian population. In 2018 only, Israeli security forces killed 290 Palestinians, among them 55 minors, most of them in the Gaza Strip. These incidents are a direct result of Israel’s reckless open-fire policy, authorized by the government and the top military command, and backed by the judicial system. This policy includes, among other things, shooting to kill incidents, permitting live fire at unarmed demonstrators by the Gaza-Israel fence, and bombarding densely populated areas within Gaza. Aside from rare, publicized incidents, no one is held accountable for these incidents, and the military law enforcement system whitewashes them.
Sarit Michaeli has been part of B’Tselem’s staff since October 2004, serving as the organization’s spokesperson for 12 years before becoming its international advocacy officer. As well as working with the diplomatic community and international civil society groups, she documents demonstrations in the West Bank, with a focus on security forces’ misuse of crowd control weapons, and has authored B’Tselem’s report on the subject. B’Tselem was founded in 1989 to document Israeli violations of Palestinians’ human rights in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip.
The lecture will be followed by an open discussion with the audience. The event will be in held in English.
Doors open at 15:00, the event will start at 15:30 sharp. We will end the event with a toast to mark the Jewish new year, for a year of freedom, dignity and justice to all.
Seating is limited. To ensure participation, please register at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Participation is free, but we will appreciate any donation that could assist us in covering the event costs (recommended sum: €5 per person).
On Tuesday, September 24th 2019, we sent the following letter to EU Commission President Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker and Commissioner Ms. Jourova, together with 5 other Jewish organizations, warning against a EU endorsement to Israeli attempts to stifle European Jewish voices for peace and justice in Israel/Palestine:
Dear Commission President Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, dear Commissioner Ms. Jourova,
It has come to our attention that the Israeli Minister of Public Security, and Minister of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Gilad Erdan of the Likud party will be attending an event at the European Parliament, with participation by EU Commission coordinator on Combating Antisemitism Katarina von Schnurbein, on September 25th, 2019.
This unfortunately indicates a concerning lack of due diligence on behalf of the event’s organizers and of Ms. Von Schnurbein. Inviting Mr. Erdan, an Israeli hardliner, to a public forum involving a European Commission coordinator puts European politicians, officials and civil society actors at risk and violates the obligation of EU officials to maintain the safety and security of their co-workers and interests abroad. Ms. Von Schnurbein mandate is to protect European Jewish communities from harm. By participating in this event, she panders instead to Israeli right-wing interests that directly conflict with the safety and prosperity of Jewish communities in Europe, including our own.
As the minister responsible for the Israeli Police, Mr. Erdan is holding ministerial responsibility for several extra-juridical police killings and discriminatory policies, both in occupied east Jerusalem and within Israel. On his additional capacity as the Minister of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy, Mr. Erdan has been involved in publishing a report titled “The Money Trail: European Union Financing of Organizations Promoting Boycotts against the State of Israel” in January 2019 (2nd Edition). The report is signed only by the ministry, and therefore should be seen as representing Mr. Erdan’s political position.
This report is 34 pages of incitement against a series of civil society organizations, against the individual workers (including Jewish Europeans) and management in those organizations and against the EU bodies who provide financing to these organizations. Without fail, the organizations mentioned in the report are human rights organizations and organizations promoting the implementation of international law and the protection of minority groups. Despite this, the report attempts to make connections between these organizations, and the EU bodies which finance them, and terror organizations. It should be recalled that according to Mr. Erdan, alleged association with terrorism is grounds for the use of lethal force.
Incitement which includes a clear call for the use of violence, based on racial and religious hatred, is prohibited under European law. Until Mr. Erdan withdraws the report and issues a public and official apology, inviting him to speak in a European forum could be considered complicity with a hate crime.
We are especially concerned that EU Commission coordinator to Combat Antisemitism Katarina von Schnurbein considers attending the event. Ms. Von Schnurbein has a responsibility to protect European Jews from hate crimes, and this includes their right to freedom of speech, and to support the civil society organizations in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which Mr. Erdan associates with terrorism.
Should Ms. Von Schnurbein choose to attend the event, European Jewish progressive organizations will be subjected to additional risk, and possible harm, in their exercise of their freedom of expression and belief. In the case that her participation in this event goes ahead, the undersigned organizations will address, in a separate letter, both the current and incoming EU Commissioner for Justice requesting a transfer of Ms. Von Schnurbein from her current post.
The undersigned Jewish European organizations:
Een Andere Joodse Stem (Belgium)
Union Juive Française pour la Paix (France)
Jews for Justice for Palestinians (UK)
Jüdische Stimme für gerechter Frieden in Nahost (Germany)
Judar för Israelisk Palestinsk Fred (Sweden)
Free Speech on Israel (UK)
[Press release, 23-01-2019]
Stigmatizing and derogatory approaches towards Muslims, Palestinians, civil society activists, and even towards progressive Jews have been an earmark of Michael Freilich’s public appearances and editorial tone that dominated the magazine “Joods Actueel”. It is therefore not surprising that Freilich found his natural place in a political party that has tapped into xenophobic sentiments and embraced the anti-immigration discourse of the European extreme right.
Now when the masks have fallen, and Freilich revealed his affiliation with the nationalist right, one can only wonder how come he was embraced by the Flemish media as a representative of the Jewish community as a whole. His polarizing and inciting discourse has inflicted real damage on our communities, which will take many years to heal.
Luckily, many Jews in Belgium do not share Freilich’s political views, and prefer to distance themselves from political forces that have been flirting with fascism and racism in the past and in the present. Unlike Freilich, Een Andere Joodse Stem holds to the Jewish and human values of equality and solidarity, and works to make these values a reality within and outside the Flemish Jewish community, in Belgium and in Europe, as well as in Israel-Palestine.
As Jewish European organizations committed to the elimination of anti-Semitism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and all other forms of racism, we would like to voice our deepest concern regarding the organization of a conference in Brussels (6-7 November 2018), backed by the Israeli government, aiming to label legitimate criticism and protest against Israeli governmental policies as anti-Semitism. We ask the European institutions, including the European Commission, the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), and members of the European Parliament, to shun attempts by the Israeli government to use false allegation of anti-Semitism to limit and criminalize work by civil society organizations, including those of diverse Jewish communities of Europe, to pursue peace and justice in Israel/Palestine.
The conference, co-organized by the European Jewish Association and two Israeli ministries, has as its goal to persuade all European political parties to sign up to “red lines” that declare legitimate calls for pressure on Israel, including through Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) tactics, to be “fundamentally anti-Semitic.”
We reject their call. Antisemitism is a small but real and growing threat to Jewish populations in Europe – and elsewhere, as the recent outrage in Pittsburgh so tragically demonstrates. Conflating the real threat posed by anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of the Israeli government and its policies is a dangerous step; it threatens to misdirect European efforts to combat anti-Semitism, turning these instead into a tool to erode the democratic principles of free speech and freedom of assembly, and to aid the Israeli government in its quest to limit Palestinian non-violent civil resistance to the Israeli occupation. These Israeli efforts do not represent the Jewish communities of Europe. The Israeli policies of siege in Gaza and racial segregation in the West Bank, of fatal attacks on civilians and of land expropriation for Jewish-only settlements – are not in our name. We reject attempts to equate opposition to these deplorable policies with anti-Semitism.
In the context of growing Israeli governmental ties with racist, sexist and xenophobic leaders, groups and political parties in Europe and the US (some of which with a past marked by blatant anti-Semitism), there is a real threat of emergent anti-Semitism. The Israeli governmental conference organized in Brussels is not searching for much-needed solutions to this threat. Sadly, it seeks instead to leverage anti-Semitism to maintain an untenable status-quo of occupation, oppression and fear in Israel/Palestine. We stand in opposition to their mission.
As Jewish organizations committed to the promotion of social justice and equality, we have expressed in several occasions the problematic nature of invoking allegations of anti-Semitism in attempts to silence voices opposing Israeli violations. More than 40 Jewish organisations have recently published an open letter expressing their “growing alarm regarding the targeting of organizations that support Palestinian rights in general and the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, in particular” Adding that “These attacks too often take the form of cynical and false accusations of antisemitism that dangerously conflate anti-Jewish racism with opposition to Israel’s policies and system of occupation and apartheid.”
The right to defend human rights, including Palestinian rights, should be safeguarded now more than ever. EU political parties have a responsibility to end complicity of their respective states with the Israeli violations of international law. It is time to act against anti-Semitism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and all other forms of racism. It is time to act against Israel’s decades-long occupation and racial segregation. Don’t lend a hand to the Israeli government attempts to stop us from doing both.
Een Andere Joodse Stem / Another Jewish Voice (Belgium)
Free Speech on Israel (United Kingdom)
JFJFP – Jews for Justice for Palestinians (United Kingdom)
Een Ander Joods Geluid/A Different Jewish Voice (The Netherlands)
Judar för Israelisk Palestinsk Fred / Jews for Israeli-Palestinian Peace (Sweden)
Jewish Voice for Labour (United Kingdom)
Jewish Socialist Group (United Kingdom)
Jüdische Stimme für ein gerechten Frieden in Nahost / Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Near East (Germany)
Jøder for en retfærdig fred (Denmark)
EJJP – European Jews for a Just Peace (European Network)
Saturday, April 28th at 20h15
At UPJB – Rue de la Victoire 61 1060 Saint-Gilles.
Throughout his long career Israeli Palestinian film writer, film director and film producer Michel Khleifi has sought to portray Palestine and her soul. Khleifi was born in Nazareth and has lived in exile in Brussels since 1970. He taught at the Institut Supérieur des Arts du Spectacle. In 1987 Michel Khleifi won the International Critics’ Prize in Cannes for his film Wedding in the Galilee. In 2003 Khleifi and Eyal Sivan filmed Route 181: Fragments of a Journey in Israel-Palestine. The following year the movie was censored in France. Despite immense difficulties and set backs Khleifi has created an œuvre of immense importance. Khleifi stands in the tradition of Mahmud Darwisch, Emile Habibi, Edward Said, Juliano Khmer-Meir and all the women and men who fight and have fought non-violently with their art against the destruction of their homeland and who are striving to preserve and to portray the beauty of Palestinian culture and the dignity of her people.
On April 28 Khleifi will show Ma’loul Celebrates its Destruction, a 30 minute short.
You are invited to join us as Khleifi talks about his career, his upbringing and his life in exile.
You are invited to join us as we seek to envision a future for Palestine in justice and in peace.
Co-organized by EAJS, UPJB and ABP.