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Belgian Senate strengthens text on nation’s Holocaust-era complicity

(JTA) — Reacting to complaints by Belgian Jews, the country’s Senate has issued a strengthened version of a text recognizing Holocaust-era complicity.

The new version was passed unanimously by the Belgian Senate on Wednesday.

“The Senate hereby enacts the government’s statement made on Sept. 9, 2012, by Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, who acknowledged the responsibility of Belgian authorities, and through it that of the Belgian state, in the persecution of Jews in Belgium,” the resolution now reads.

Philippe Mahoux, a Socialist senator, said at the Senate session, “We have not been insensitive to the reactions of the Jewish community. We did not have the slightest intention of minimizing the Belgian state’s responsibility.”

The resolution revamps one that was based on a text passed by a Senate committee earlier this month that spoke only of “responsibility of Belgian authorities” without reference to the state or the authorities who had or had not cooperated with the Nazi occupation forces. Several Belgian Jewish groups, including the CCOJB umbrella group, called on the Senate to reformulate the resolution, as they found it minimized the role of the Belgian state as described in a report from 2007.

Titled "Obedient Belgium” and compiled by the federal Center for Historical Research and Documentation on War and Contemporary Society, the report determined that the Belgian state and its authorities were guilty of systematically and unconstitutionally helping the Nazis round up more than a third of Belgium’s Jewish population of approximately 66,000, who died in Nazi death camps.

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