Flemish Jews: Better coverage of Israel would have prepared Europe for truck attack in Nice


(JTA) — A group representing Flemish Jews said that the vehicular attack in France was shocking to Westerners because their media has willfully ignored a spate of car ramming attacks in Israel.

The Flemish Region’s Forum of Jewish Organizations issued its unusual statement Friday about the July 14 assault in the southern French city. As many as 80 people were killed when a driver plowed his truck through a crowded promenade during the national Bastille Day holiday, in an apparent terrorist attack.

Many European Jewish groups are critical of their media’s coverage of Israel but mainstream organizations like the Forum rarely reference this in commenting about terrorist attacks in Europe.

“It is inaccurate to say, as we have heard said many times after the Nice attack, that car ramming is a new phenomenon,” the Forum wrote. “By ignoring this method of terrorism in Israel – some believe because of political correctness – one is, regrettably, confronted in a horrific manner with reality.”

The statement featured a caricature of a man holding a sword that is sticking into his torso, which is shaped like the map of France, while kneeling with the Eiffel Tower in the background. The sword is labelled “political correctness.”

As the representative body of the Jewish communities of the Flemish Region – one of three autonomous states that make up the  federal kingdom of Belgium – the Forum speaks for half of the country’s Jewish population.

The organization representing Belgium’s French-speaking Jews, CCOJB, made no reference to Israel in its statement about the Nice attack, following which CCOJB expressed its solidarity with France and its condolences to the victims’ families.

CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish communities, made passing reference to Israel in its condemnation of the attack. “The terrorists have the same objectives in Paris, Nice, Brussels, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and around the world,” CRIF wrote. The Board of Deputies of British Jews wrote in its statement: “We know only too well of this kind of attack because of its repeated use in Israel.”

In Spain, the ACOM lobby group for Israel noted in its statement that “the model used in France is a lethal technique constantly used by Palestinian terrorists against the Israeli people.” But FCJE, Spanish Jewry’s representative umbrella group, made no mention of Israel in its statement, which spoke of “Islamic terrorism that once again attacks” the Western way of life.

Since January 2015, the Israel Security Agency recorded at least 34 car ramming attacks by Palestinian terrorists in Israel led to the death of three victims and injured at least 77 people.

Ramming attacks in 2015 were responsible for the second highest number of injured, after 114 people who were stabbed and 39 victims wounded in shooting attacks. It was the third deadliest method employed by terrorists, after shooting and stabbing, according to the agency.

Aliza Bin Noun, Israel’s ambassador to France, did not draw parallels between the attack in Nice and attacks in her native country in a statement she posted on Twitter. “Horrified by the Nice attack. Israel stands with the French People and their pain and is ready to help France combat terrorism,” she wrote.

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