Belgium’s representative Jewish organization has angrily denounced a Socialist Party senator for comments made at a parliamentary hearing that amounted to “hateful antisemitism.”
Brussels Senator Nadia El Yousfi made the remarks at a hearing on international affairs on Monday debating the ongoing Israeli military operation in Gaza provoked by the Oct. 7 pogrom carried out by Hamas terrorists.
Accusing Israel of “genocide” and “state terrorism” while Israel’s Ambassador in Brussels, Idit Rosenzweig-Abu, observed the proceedings, El Yousfi claimed without citing evidence that Israeli rabbis have called for the rape of Palestinian women.
“I remind you that within the Israeli government, the far right is very present,” El Yousfi stated. “There are calls for hatred, calls for the destruction of Gaza, all the calls to empty Gaza of its inhabitants. And one of the elements that also shocks me is that we have rabbis … who call for the rape of Palestinian women and so on. I think it’s important to have all the facts so that we can be as objective as possible.”
In response, an incredulous Rosenzweig-Abu said her initial thought was that El Yousfi’s accusation had been mistranslated.
“It’s the first time I’ve heard that,” the envoy said. “I was so shocked that I thought it was a translation error. But that’s exactly what she said.”
She added that during “past discussions in parliament and the senate, I’ve had confrontations, difficult discussions, I’ve heard many defamatory accusations, but this is a new low.”
In a statement on Thursday, the Coordination Committee of Belgian Jewish Organizations (CCOJB) added to the condemnation of El Yousfi.
“Such statements are the expression of a particularly hateful antisemitism that has no place in the Palais de la Nation,” the CCOJB declared.
The group pointed to evidence of the systematic rape and sexual abuse of Israeli women witnessed on Oct.7, particularly at the Nova music festival in the Negev.
“The particularly unbearable nature of the remarks denounced takes on a truly abject dimension in the context of the acts of femicide, rape, disembowelment, beheadings, and other serious attacks on Israeli women, perpetrated on Oct. 7 by Hamas terrorists,” the CCOJB asserted.
Comparing El Yousfi’s words with classically antisemitic “dark rumors” about Jews, the CCOJB argued that “over and above the criminal charges that such remarks may incur, Ms. El Yousfi bears full political responsibility for them, gravely tarnishing her status as a representative of the nation.”
“In view of the seriousness of Ms El Yousfi’s remarks, we feel that the most severe measures against her are called for,” the statement concluded.
Joel Rubinfeld, president of the Belgian League Against Antisemitism, situated El Yousfi’s speech in the context of growing antisemitism faced by the community since Oct. 7.
“The Jews in Belgium experienced a double trauma: the images of Oct. 7 with these pogroms, and the political reactions, the press, or even universities,” Rubinfeld told the French language service of Israeli broadcaster i24.
“Every weekend, demonstrations take place and bring together up to 50,000 people with antisemitic slogans. This climate contributes to the departure of many people,” Rubinfeld added.