A Belgian Education Ministry website offered an exercise for trainee teachers drawing comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany and featuring a vicious caricature.
The comparisons were available until recently on the KlasCement.be website, a major teaching resource offered to teachers in training by the Education Ministry of the Flemish Region, one of three entities that make up the federal Belgian state, the Jewish monthly Joods Actueel reported Monday.
The website featured a caricature showing a Jewish man impaled on the fence of a concentration camp next to a man wearing a kafiyeh Arab headress, their limbs arranged in the form of a Nazi swastika. The caption “never again” appears above the image of the Jew and the words “over again!” are written at the Arab’s right foot. The caricature was drawn by the Brazilian artist Carlos Latuff, whom the Simon Wiesenthal Center has accused of open anti-Semitism though he rejects these claims. The cartoon first appeared at a Holocaust denial conference in Tehran in 2009, the Jewish monthly reported.
The cartoon appeared on the ministry website as part of an exercise in which teachers are asked to analyse the cartoon with one of three statements: “This is a Palestinian fleeing Jews;” “Jews want the entire area of Palestine back;” or “Jews call Palestine Israel.”
The Flemish Education Ministry did not reply to requests for comment by JTA, but Guido Joris of Joods Actueel said the exercise was pulled off the site following the publication of the newspaper’s article.
Another item removed following Joods Actueel’s exposé was a role-playing game in which one of the characters is described as follows: “You sympathize with the radical group Hamas. You live in Gaza and work in Israel. You were shocked by the slaying of a Palestinian girl by Israeli soldiers at a school playground. Israel denies that it fired the shots but U.N. representatives in Gaza indicate it did.”
An unrelated issue this week involved an article published over the weekend by De Standaard, a leading Belgian daily, which asserts that settlers “sometimes poisoned Palestinian water wells” — a statement which Joods Actueel said was unfounded and reminiscent of ancient anti-Semitic tropes.
An annual report released last month found the number of anti-Semitic attacks reported last year in Belgium was at its highest since 2009.
Anti-racism volunteers registered 80 anti-Semitic attacks throughout Belgium in 2012, according to the report by the Antisemitsm.Be watchdog group. The figure represents a 23 percent increase over 2011.