Flemish Jews slam Belgian prime minister’s criticism of Israel

ANTWERP, Belgium (JTA) — The organization representing Flemish-speaking Jews criticized the Belgian prime minister’s allegation that Israel is using disproportionate violence in Gaza.

Elio di Rupo, Belgium’s outgoing prime minister, became Europe’s first head of state to level the accusation at Israel when he made it last week in a statement, the Forum of Jewish Organizations, or FJO, of Belgium’s Flemish region wrote in its statement.

On July 22, the office of Di Rupo, who is a Socialist, published a statement on the prime minister’s website, which said that while Di Rupo “recognizes Israel’s legitimate security demands, he criticized the totally disproportionate use of violence by Israeli troops, including the Israeli army’s attacks on the Shejaiyah neighborhood in Gaza.”

FJO wrote that they “read with astonishment Di Rupo’s statement in which criticized in a one-sided manner” Israel’s actions in Gaza. “Proportional use of force does not mean equal exertion of firepower,” the FJO added.

Belgium is a federal state made up of three autonomous regions: the Flemish Region, the French-speaking Walloon Region and the Brussels region. CCOJB, the organization representing French-speaking Belgian Jews, has not issued a statement in reaction to Di Rupo’s.

“During war, disproportionate use of force can only occur if the military goals can be achieved also with less force,” FJO wrote, adding: “The prime minister ignores local circumstances, created by Hamas’ use of Palestinian civilians as shields against Israeli attacks.”

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