Watchdog group that exposed Belgium’s anti-Israel funding calls for investigation.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
The Foreign Ministry summoned Belgian ambassador to Israel Jean-Luc Bodson and handed him a reprimand over Belgium’s support of NGOs that are working to shut out any pro-Israel dialog there, Israel Army Radio reported Tuesday.
The move came in the wake of a report by the Jerusalem-based watchdog group NGO Monitor that revealed last month that the Belgium gives funding to anti-Israel groups that call for “mitigating the influence of pro-Israel voices.”
“The ministry takes very seriously funding organizations whose stated purpose is to undermine support for Israel,” said Anna Azri, Israel’s Deputy Director General for Europe. “With this funding, the Belgian government undermines the discourse for Palestinian-Israeli understanding and reconciliation and removes the prospect of a peaceful solution between the two peoples.”
The NGO Monitor report revealed that the Belgian government gave aid to Palestinians via several NGOs whose stated goals include shutting out pro-Israel dialog.
“Belgium, including many government officials and ministers, is one of the worst promoters of hatred against Israel and anti-Zionism, often mixed with other forms of anti-Semitism,” NGO Monitor Director Prof. Gerald Steinberg told World Israel News.
“They provide millions to propaganda organizations and NGOs linked to Palestinian terror groups, under the facades of ‘human rights,’ international law, and promoting peace. Now that this is all out in the open and the Israeli Foreign Minister is pushing back, the hope is that at least some of this hatred and the embrace of Palestinian myths will recede.”
Steinberg said the Belgian government needs to “freeze all funding to NGOs dealing with Israel and the Palestinians, and launch an independent investigation so that officials, members of parliament, journalists, and taxpayers find out where all this money was going.”
In order to end what he called “abuses of the NGO process,” Steinberg said the EU needs new regulation.
“Belgium, like the rest of Europe, needs to establish appropriate regulations, including full transparency and ending such unacceptable abuses of the NGO process,” Steinberg said.
The diplomatic incident is the latest in an ongoing battle with Belgium over its embrace of anti-Israel organizations and anti-Semitic incidents.
In February this year the Foreign Ministry took similar steps following Belgium’s support for anti-Israel resolutions and speakers at the UN.
Israel and Jewish organizations are also angered by the Belgian government’s refusal to intervene in the annual Aalst Carnival parade that has featured anti-Semitic caricatures.