The Belgian political class is perhaps more characterised than any other in Europe by its denial of what is currently happening in the Middle East. This has been particularly true since the pogrom of 7 October, which seems to have moved people far less than Israel’s response. In recent weeks, there has been one appalling and revolting comment after another:
First of all, Éliane Tilleux (PS), President of the Chamber of Deputies, who said in an interview on 10 October that “from the moment when the rules of international law are not respected on either side, I don’t know where we should classify the acts as terrorist”.
Jean-Pascal Labille, a former Socialist minister and current President of the Mutualités Socialistes, then published on social networks an illustration of the siege of Gaza showing a Star of David intertwined with a swastika. A little later, André Flahaut, also a former Socialist minister, compared Gaza with the Warsaw ghetto. Then it was the turn of ecologist minister Zakia Khattabi, who refused to describe Hamas as “terrorist”, claiming ignorance of the legal definition of the term. Egbert Lachaert, former president of the Flemish liberal party, dared to compare the Israeli strikes to Molenbeek: “The strikes on Gaza are like dropping bombs on Molenbeek, because terrorists have grown up there”.
Not forgetting, of course, Raoul Hedebouw, a far-left MP (PTB), for whom the crimes of Hamas can be explained by the fact that Israel is a colonial state. And, last but not least, Fouad Ahidar, member of the Brussels Vooruit (Flemish Socialists), who, interviewed on Zinneke TV on 5 November, described the pogrom committed by Hamas on 7 October as “a small response (…) given by part of Hamas”, adding that “Anyone with any sense can see that this is human genocide. And I can use that term, as someone who went to Auschwitz in Poland to see what genocide is. I can see today that practically the same methods are being used.”
In view of all this, it would certainly have been useful for MEPs to have been able to view the video showing the massacres perpetrated by Hamas on 7 October, as the Israeli ambassador to Belgium had proposed to the Speaker of the House, Eliane Tillieux. But the request, relayed by Catherine Fonck (MP, Les Engagés), was simply refused after being examined by the Conference of Presidents of the House (the leaders of the parliamentary groups)!
Georges Dallemagne MP (Les Engagés) cannot explain this refusal, given that “When an ambassador asks to show a document or a film in the House, there is always a positive response. Even if it means screening it behind closed doors.”
So why the refusal? It would appear that it was due to a lack of consensus between the parliamentary groups: the left-wing parties apparently opposed it, and the PTB justified its refusal as follows: “We don’t want to watch a film that serves to justify Israel’s war crimes”.
This, of course, only serves to reinforce the problem it was intended to combat. As Georges Dallemagne pointed out, “Belgium has already been singled out because some of its political leaders were unable to describe the massacre correctly, remained silent, played down the facts or took a long time to react. This film, made from the bodycams of the assailants and the files found on the victims’ phones, would have enabled parliamentarians to see what happened”.
And that is exactly why Israel wants it to be shown. As Israel’s ambassador to Belgium, Idit Rosenzweig-Abu, explained after a screening of the film on 6 November exclusively for journalists, the aim is to prove that these atrocities did indeed take place, at a time when their reality is being questioned even within the ranks of certain political parties, notably the PTB, Ecolo and Vooruit.
Can we then speak of a piece of Israeli propaganda?
The accusation must be seriously relativised since this is neither a video glorifying Israel, nor even a video based on images recorded by the Hebrew State: the images of the atrocities come from cameras worn by Hamas terrorist attackers. This is undoubtedly one of the most chilling features of this pogrom: contrary to the usual practice of concealment and denial, the torturers filmed their crimes. And this fact alone would be worth analysing, deciphering and thinking about by all those who today dare to relativise the barbarity of the attack on 7 October, as if it were just another jolt in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The President of the MR, Georges-Louis Bouchez, announced that his party would take the initiative of showing this video in the Senate, of which he is a member, so that those wishing to see it could do so. A screening which took place on November 23, in the absence, as was to be expected, of any representative of the PTB, they clearly not wanting to take the risk of seeing their certainties shaken.
As for me, I cannot bear to see democrats, humanists and secularists marching alongside people who call for the destruction of Israel. Alongside Islamists who admire Hamas or Hezbollah, hate the Jews and Nazify Israel. Without, at the very least, proclaiming their profound disagreement with these people. Clearly stating that they are unacceptable. Expressing their profound discomfort at finding themselves demonstrating alongside them.
I can’t accept that they should see Israel and Hamas being pitted against each other, as if each had committed crimes of the same nature. That’s not true: words have meaning. The butchery we witnessed on 7 October 2023 has no equivalent on the Israeli side. What’s more, the Hamas attackers filmed their acts, just as the Islamists of Daech filmed and posted their beheadings yesterday.
So if we have to draw a comparison with Nazism, we have to look to Hamas, and not to Israel.