Belgian Holocaust museum to host award ceremony for anti-Israel activist

Jewish groups protest recognition of Brigitte Herremans, who claimed pro-Israel lobbyists ‘vastly inflate’ anti-Semitism in Europe as a distraction from Palestinian issues

Brigitte Herremans (Broederlijk Delen via JTA)
Brigitte Herremans (Broederlijk Delen via JTA)

A promoter of sanctions against Israel who said its supporters “vastly inflate” anti-Semitism is scheduled to receive an award for promoting peace at Belgium’s main Holocaust memorial museum.

The Forum of Jewish Organizations on Sunday protested in a letter to Belgian government officials, including Flemish Region Prime Minister Jan Jambon, the plan to honor Brigitte Herremans, an aid worker for the Catholic Broederlijk Delen organization who in 2016 was banned from entering Israel. The honor is set to be presented at Kazerne Dossin, a transit camp from which Belgian Jews and Romani were sent to concentration camps during the Holocaust, in Mechelen.

Another Catholic group, Pax Christi, which in 2017 called on the European Union to “suspend economic relations” with Israel until it “respects International law,” plans to award Herremans its title of “ambassador for peace” at the state-run former camp.

During the Holocaust, Nazis and local collaborators sent from there about 25,000 Jews to be murdered in Nazi death camps in occupied Poland.

“Brigitte Herremans is on an anti-Israel mission,” Hans Knoop, a spokesperson for the Forum, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “She shouldn’t be honored at a Holocaust monument, it’s a disgrace.”

The former Dossin barracks photographed from the balocny of The Kazerne Dossin – Memorial, Museum and Documentation Centre on Holocaust and Human Rights in Mechelen, Belgium. (Michel van der Burg/Wikimedia Commons via JTA)

Asked about the rise in anti-Semitism in Europe in a radio interview in 2016, Herremans said: “When you sometimes hear criticism from certain pro-Israel circles, also in Belgium, then I think that mostly they try to vastly inflate this business to distract” from how Israel “wants to do only as it pleases in the Palestinian territories.”

She also has called for sanctions on Israel and on Israelis visiting Europe.

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