Vlaams Belang: Friends of Israel?

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As some well-known bloggers and writers continue to defend the Belgian neo-fascist party Vlaams Belang, here’s an interview with former Vlaams Belang president Frank Vanhecke, in which he claims to be a best friend of Jews and Israel: Belgian far right leader: I am one of Israel’s staunchest defenders.

At Belgium’s request, the European Parliament is expected next month to lift the immunity of one of its members, a former leader of the rightist Vlaams Belang party, exposing him to racism charges. Describing himself as a victim of blatant persecution, Frank Vanhecke told Haaretz the decision could spell his “political death.”

In the interview, Vanhecke countered claims that Vlaams Belang is anti-Semitic, calling them “unjust and untrue,” pointing to his record of cooperation with Antwerp’s Jewish community and standing up for Israel in the European Parliament. …

With a hint of frustration in his voice, Vanhecke adds: “They say I’m antisemitic when the truth is I am one of Israel’s staunchest defenders in the European Parliament. I invite you to read my queries to the European Parliament concerning its unjust treatment of Israel, and about the support the same parliament is giving to Palestinian murderers.”

Vanhecke went on to say he thinks of himself as “a defender of Israel and of the Jewish people,” adding: “Israel stands for the spirit that we stand for; liberty and self-determination.

Unfortunately for Vanhecke’s story, the Jewish Belgian Association isn’t buying one word of it. Here’s a Google-translated article in their magazine, Joods Actuel (Jewish News), denouncing the Vlaams Belang for their many links to Holocaust deniers and neo-Nazis of one stripe or another, and responding to a letter from VB leader Filip DeWinter. The translation’s not great, but their disdain for the Vlaams Belang is evident:

Jewish News Response to letter of Filip Dewinter

Dear Mr. Dewinter,

You say “surprised” to have been the article last month in Jewish News. I would like my own - and that of many fellow believers - amazement and dismay even willing to share with you about decisions and actions of you and your party. We have drawn up a list of the ten most flagrant of them.

From the VB are always justifications and arguments that have to prove that the party is not anti-Semitic. There are too many events and serious facts to make this credible.

I know personally as members of the Vlaams Belang, which Israel and the Jews wear a high priority. They assure me that you’re certainly not anti-Semite. One argument that I too would like to accept. But it is up to you to do this to prove, it is up to you to draw a clear line. Behavior that is unacceptable must not be longer be tolerated or minimized. It is time for this to mention by name and fully away from it.

You claim in Lommel are going to argue because the then mayor had refused access to German families. Why you just feel called to defend German families is a question aside. From TV pictures is to see that German relatives were admitted. There interrogated by Jewish News, is a former mayor Louis Vanvelthoven formal, he speaks your version of the facts against. So this is word against word. But this discussion is not what is at stake. The heirs to the whole affair is that you and Gerolf Annemans troepten together with a crowd of neo-Nazis of the worst kind. You literally stood shoulder to shoulder with skinheads who unceremoniously uitbrachten the Hitler greeting. As a politician you know only too well the impact of such images. Just above his apology necessary.

Your comment that I just Jewish youth outside the European civilization instead, is, I must admit, underhanded attempt. Of course I stand by my position: the Jews are a perfect example of how different cultures can live and next to each other. Why was sixty years ago Judaism in Europe almost completely eradicated? Not because we as a part of European culture, we are integrated but not necessarily assimilated.

Finally, I wish to add that those who seek a pro-Jewish attitude is trying to combine with intolerance against any other population group, clearly did not understand what Jewish life means, and does not realize how much this ambiguous attitude that goes diametrically against.
Sincerely,

Michael Zevi Freilich
Editor

The misgivings of the Jewish Belgian Association are not the only reason to doubt Vanhecke’s pro-Israel statements. Here’s a photograph taken in May of 2007 at the funeral of Vlaams Blok founder Karel Dillen, showing Vlaams Blok/Belang leaders Filip DeWinter and Frank Vanhecke, with French National Front leaders Jean-Marie Le Pen and Bruno Gollnisch. Follow the links to learn more about these people; in the backgrounds of Gollnisch, Le Pen, and Karel Dillen, there’s a common discordant note: Holocaust denial and/or “minimizing.”

6 months ago: (From L to R) Actual Far-right party Vlaams Belang leader Filip Dewinter, FN number 2 Bruno Gollnisch, Vlaams Belang president Frank Vanhecke and French far-right National Front (FN) leader and former presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen attend the funeral of Karel Dillen, 81, founder of the Flemish far-right party Vlaams Blok (now Vlaams Belang) 05 May 2007, in Antwerp

Here’s a video on the Jewish News story and their report titled “The 10 Main Sins of the Vlaams Belang:”

Youtube Video

A translation from LGF reader “superjan:”

Joods Actueel, a Jewish weekly in Antwerp attacks Filip de Winter and Vlaams Belang, in a report called “the 10 sins of Vlaams Belang” that shows that Vlaams Belang is still a party where antisemitism and sympathy for the nazi’s thrives.

Then the interview:

W:Your question to the party was very clear. Shouldn’t the party (VB) expel people?

M: That was not the question. The reason was a letter we got from Filip DeWinter in which he said, “The jewish community does not have to be scared for Vlaams Belang, vote for us we are your best friends. VB is joined with the jews in a war against islam.”

W: But then you investigated?

M: Yes, then we investigated that. Is this the truth? And then we found a number of facts. We saw people of Vlaams Belang that give the Hitler salute that are still welcome in the party, and that people of Vlaams Belang go to Nazi meetings in Austria or buy and sell Nazi books.

And then we said, Mister DeWinter if you really want to be our friend we ask of you some elementary politeness. Then you can’t tolerate people bringing the Hitler salute or people going to Nazi meetings. Get rid of them. And give us your excuse for their behaviour. Only after that we can start talking. As long as you don’t get rid of those people you are deceiving us. You can’t say you are our friend when you have Holocaust deniers in your party.

W: But are you going to be active against VB in Joods Actueel now?

M: i think we already did with our investigation. But we are not going to give VB too much attention.

W: But DeWinter shouldn’t say he is a friend of the Jews?

Laughter.

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