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:
When I discovered, in early summer 2019, the testimonies of the Holocaust survivors collected by my friend Jean-Marie Montali, for the purposes of his book Nous sommes la voix des morts (« We are the voice of the dead », Le Cherche-midi, October 2020), I was reading an unpublished text by Hannah Arendt, which had just been published in the excellent collection About & Around, published by Allia editions.
Qatari students learn that the Jews, by “manipulating economic markets and accumulating immense wealth”, ruined Germany after World War I. It was therefore logical that the Führer made them pay dearly for their infamous betrayal. Or how to be brought up in antisemitism from childhood to adolescence.
Some time ago, I stopped buying Nutella. Because of palm oil, deforestation and orangutans which are primates from the Hominidae family. No one ever told me “Strange, you’re not an orangutan, are you?”. I also worry about polar bears, which are marine mammals from the Ursidae family, which splash around on ice packs, and for whales, those marine mammals from the Cetacea infraorder, which are harpooned day and night by the Japanese and (I think) the Norwegians, and for elephants which are mammals from Proboscidean order… Yet, no one ever told me: “That’s odd, you’re neither a whale, nor a bear, nor an elephant, are you?”.