BRUSSELS (JTA) – A leader of Belgian Jews urged a local governor to take history lessons after the politician likened the treatment of jihadists to how Nazis treated Jews.
Eli Ringer, honorary chairman of the Flemish Region’s Forum of Jewish Organizations, called on Rudi Vervoort, the Socialist minister-president of the Brussels-Capital Region, to “refresh his knowledge of history” after Vervoort mentioned the Nazi treatment of Jews in opposing proposals to strip jihadists who fought in Syria and Iraq of their Belgian nationalities.
“One of the first measures the Nazis took was stripping Jews of their German citizenship,” Vervoort told the De Tijd daily last week. He was commenting on a discussion in Brussels by federal government officials and two other minister-presidents, whose function in Belgium is parallel to that of a governor in other federal countries.
Along with Brussels-Capital, the federal state of Belgium also includes the Flemish and Walloon regions.
Vervoort was quoted by the Belgian news website vandaag.be as saying that he did not mean to offend anyone by his statement and is “sorry if this is the case.”
Belgian politicians, including Vervoort’s counterparts, said his statement was inappropriate.
Ringer told the Joods Actueel monthly upon his Jan. 28 return from Auschwitz, where he attended commemorations for Holocaust victims, “It seems that Vervoort is unable to differentiate between Jews murdered by Nazis and combatants in Syria eager to commit atrocities and murder.”