(JTA) — In an unusual move, Israel’s embassy in Belgium condemned a local daily for printing and defending an op-ed in which Jews are described as land thieves with ugly noses and a superiority complex.
The embassy addressed the July 27 op-ed by Dimitri Verhulst on Wednesday, writing on Twitter that it “is deeply shocked by the publication in Belgian newspaper De Morgen of a blatantly anti-Semitic article.”
Israel rarely comments on articles published in commercial media in democratic countries.
Ambassador Emmanuel Nahshon wrote on Twitter that his embassy “will fight forcefully and uncompromisingly against anti-Semitism, which is a crime not only targeting the Jewish community but against any democratic and tolerant society.”
The controversy over Verhulst’s column, titled “There is no promised land, only stolen land,” has been brewing for almost two weeks. The Forum of Jewish Organizations of Belgium’s Flemish Region complained to police about the column, which erroneously attributes a quote about ugly Jewish noses to Serge Gainsbourg, the late French-Jewish singer, and suggests Jews justify the subjugation of Palestinians by regarding themselves as God’s “chosen.”
Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs said the op-ed reminded him of anti-Semitic propaganda that was last tolerated in Dutch and Belgian mainstream media in the 1940s.
Israel’s protest followed a statement by De Morgen to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency asserting the paper’s support for Verhulst. De Morgen’s editor in chief, Bart Eeckhout, told JTA that the op-ed is not anti-Semitic and that its critics were merely trying to “silence” his outlet’s criticism of Israel’s policies.