THE HAGUE (JTA) — The leader of a small Belgian party said she would “temporarily step down” after stating that “a few Jewish families that monopolize the banking world” caused the financial crisis in Europe.
“I distance myself from the text … which can be offensive,” Agnes Jonckheere, chairwoman of the Free Christian Democrats, or VCD, wrote on Facebook on Tuesday following a public outcry over the statement.
The statement was in a letter she sent recently to Joods Actueel, a Flemish-Jewish monthly based in Antwerp, in reaction to an Op-Ed titled “Jew-hatred is back” by Joods Actueel editor in chief Michael Freilich on the website of the VRT broadcaster.
Jonckheere wrote, “A small minority, a few Jewish families, monopolize the world banks, the IMF [International Monetary Fund] and are the cause of the financial crisis in Europe.”
Following a volley of condemnations from Christian circles, Jonckheere wrote on Tuesday, “I will also step down temporarily as speaker and leader of the Free Christian Democrats,” a Flemish party that is represented in one municipality.
The party has failed to enter the parliament of the Flemish Region — one of three autonomous entities that make up the Federal Belgian state — since its establishment five years ago.