BRUSSELS (Feb. 10)
No less than four officially anti-Semitic parties have been founded in Belgium in the course of the last year. Their programs differ in many respects, but one thing they all have n common: “Down with the Jews!”
The most violent and aggressive of this quartet is the so-called “National Corporative Workers Union.” As far as the jew sare concerned, this body is by far the most dangerous, for while the policy of the “Dinasos,” teh otehr large anti-Semitic party, is flemish autonomy, that of the National Corporative Union is Belgian nationism, which makes its appeal a much greater one. It publishes papers in both Flemish violent and unscrpulous propaganda against the Jews.
The anti-Semitism thus creasted is an entirely unnatural one, for there is not the slightest justification fo it. But the German Nazis, are missing no opportunity of agitating against the Jews. And since the economic situation in Belgium is a very serious one, the danger exists that they may succeed in persuading the Belgian masses that the Jews are responsible for all the difficulties.
So far, however, these Belgian Fascists have not been very successful. On the contrary, their agitation has led to a strengthening of the anti-Fascist circles, and a “League for the Defense, and a Freedom and Democracy” has been counded . The Socialists, too, are carrying on a cigorous anti-Fascist campaign.
During the last few weeks, however, little has been heard of the Jewish problem in the Belgian press. The reason is that other matters, of greater public interest have arisen, chief among them the enormous scandal when a whole net of corruption and dishonesty was discovered in the Belgian administration and poloice. Not a single Jew was involved in this scandal, which assumed very large proportions, and the whole antio-Fascist press pointed this fact out to the anti-Semites.
While the general Jewish situation in the country is not entirely unsatisfacoty, that of the Jewish traders is becoming very serious. Some four thousand Jewish families in Belgium are dependent on market trading, and lately, in consequence of the economic crisis, many of these have been forbidden to carry on their trade. The munuvipal authorities who are responsible for this, deny that they have been actuated by any anti-Semitic motives and blame the criss. Most of the traders affected are Polish subjects, and the Polish Consul has taken the matter in hand, so far, however, without success. Already several hundred Jewish traders have thus been deprived of a livelihood, and their position is extemely serious, for under present conditions, there is not teh slightest chance of obtaining work in any other occupation.
Just lately a considerable change in the attitude of the Belgians to the Jews has taken place, as a result of a series of srticles in the important Belgian paper, Le Soir, on Zionism and Palestine. These articles were written by Pierre Goenaere, a well-known journalist who had previously openly declared himself to be an anti-Semitie. His visit to Palestine completely changed hsi views. He saw what the Jews had achieved there in the face of innumerable difficulties, and he became pronouncedly proJewish. The articles have had a great influence on the Belgian public. An entirely new type of Jew was revealed to them. Previously they had always thought of the Jew as a small trader. Now they were shown a Jew working on the soil, creating a new land. And their respect for the Jews went up by leaps and bounds. (Mr. Fuss here refers to the series of articles “When Israel Comes Home,” appearing now at intervals in the Jewish Daily Bulletin.)
These articles had another beneficial result. The Belgian Catholics had always been afraid of what might happen to the Christian holy places should the Jews become a majority in Palestine. They were now told that the Jews had no designs on these places, and that definite assurances had been given by the Zionists on this point, and that the Pope himself had declared himself satisfied with these assurances, and in favor of Zionism.
But it is not the fact that these articles have made the Belgians more favorable to Zionism that is important. It is that the knowledge of what the Jews are doing in Palestine that has greatly increased the average Belgian’s respect and linking for the face of the violent Fascist agitation throughout the country, is a factor of inestimable importance.