Promoter of Israel boycott set to enter Belgian parliament

Anti-Semitism watchdog condemns decision to place Simon Moutquin, secretary of country’s BDS movement, on far-left party list

Two Jews walking down a street in Antwerp, Belgium, August 22, 2018. (Cnaan Liphshiz)
Two Jews walking down a street in Antwerp, Belgium, August 22, 2018. (Cnaan Liphshiz)

A large political movement in Belgium has placed a key promoter of campaigns to boycott Israel on its federal elections ticket, ensuring his place in parliament.

The Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, or LBCA, on Thursday protested the placing of Simon Moutquin, a co-secretary of the BDS Belgium movement, on the list of candidates in the Brabant region for the left-wing Ecolo party.

Ecolo and its sister party Groen operate in Belgium’s federal parliament as one bloc and may become one of its largest in Sunday’s elections, according to multiple polls.

Neither Ecolo nor Groen has officially endorsed BDS, an acronym for the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement against Israel. But Ecolo’s placing of Moutquin at the top of a regional list means he is guaranteed to enter the federal parliament, according to Joel Rubinfeld, the president of LBCA.

Ecolo-Groen is “preparing to place in parliament a Trojan horse of anti-Semitism,” Rubinfeld wrote.

Last month, a video of a representative of the Ecolo-Groen bloc who handles anti-discrimination issues in Brussels, Sihame Haddioui, surfaced showing her performing the quenelle – a gesture invented by the French Holocaust denier and anti-Semite Dieudonne M’bala M’bala. Declared a quasi-Nazi hate gesture in France, the movement signifies merely opposition to the establishment and to Zionism, Dieudonne said.

The video was from several years ago. Ecolo-Groen has not taken any disciplinary action against Haddioui, who said she regretted performing the gesture.

Another Ecolo-Groen party leader from Brussels shared on Facebook a false conspiratorial news article in 2017 titled “Ex-NSA agent Edward Snowden reveals that the head of Islamic State works for Israel, US.” He has not been disciplined.

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