Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz on Wednesday criticized Belgian complacency in the face of terrorism and said that until Europeans and the United States define the enemy as Islamic terrorism, they won’t be able to campaign against it.
Katz’s comments came a day after two bomb attacks in Brussels killed 34 people and injured dozens of others.
“If in Belgium they continue to eat chocolate and continue to enjoy life and to appear to be big liberals and democrats and they don’t define that some of the Muslims who are sitting there are from terror groups, they won’t be able to fight them,” Katz said during an interview with Israel Radio.
“Europe and the US aren’t prepared to define that the war is on Islamic terror,” he continued. “When your definition isn’t right and doesn’t exist, you can’t lead a global war.”
His comments, coming on the heels of another minister who chided Belgians for ignoring terror while concentrating on criticizing Israel, drew quick condemnation.
“The government has devised a system to eradicate terrorism: Stop eating chocolate,” opposition MK Shelly Yachimovich wrote sarcastically on Twitter.
Several Israeli lawmakers linked the deadly bombings that struck Brussels’ airport and subway Tuesday, killing some 34 people, to Palestinian terror while also condemning the attack.
But Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis used the opportunity to hit out at Europe over its labeling of products from Israeli settlements.
“I will repeat: many in Europe have preferred to occupy themselves with the folly of condemning Israel, labeling products, and boycotts,” Akunis said on his Facebook page. “In this time, underneath the nose of the Continent’s citizens, thousands of extremist Islamic terror cells have grown. There were those who repressed and mocked whoever tried to give warning. There were those who underestimated.”
His comments were derided by opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog of the Zionist Union who spoke out against any Israelis who expressed “morbid joy” over Europe’s pain in the wake of a series of deadly terror attacks in Brussels earlier in the day.
“Enough already!” Herzog said in a statement. “Stop this contemptible talk. Where did you get the chutzpah [audacity] to degrade innocent victims of terror? Where do you get this miserable cynicism from? This is a distortion of the most basic human morality. This is a painful moment internationally that obligates all people to identify with the bereaved families, whoever they are, and wish the wounded a speedy recovery.”
Katz suggested that Israel is an example of how to take a clear position in preventing terror.
“We carry on our life here, but we are prepared and have no illusions and that comes from our ability to define who is the enemy,” he said. “The Europeans, and even the United States, haven’t defined who is the opponent.”