Prominent Belgian Jewish figure resigned from Brussels University Board to denounce anti-Semitic incidents

This piece is from the European Jewish Press.

BRUSSELS (EJP)—A prominent figure of the Jewish community of Belgium has resigned from the Board of Free University of Brussels (ULB) after denouncing several grave anti-Semitic incidents within the institution.

Jacques Brotchi, an internationally renowned neurosurgeon and honorary professor at the ULB, told EJP: “I resigned from the Board of the University Foundation which collects funds for research because I deeply deplored the absence of a strong and appropriate reaction from the university authorities to a succession of anti-Semitic incidents.”

In his letter of resignation addressed to the ULB Rector, he wrote: “I don’t feel at home anymore at ULB.” He added, “I asked if the university of free-examination has not become the university of free anti-Semitism.”

The incidents, which have been repeatedly denounced by the Union of Jewish Students of Belgium (UEJB), included the staging of an Israeli military checkpoint on the university campus, the invitation of anti-Semitic French comic Dieudonne to a conference and the absence of reaction to the comments he made, a Nazi-style student feast and the publication of an article in the magazine of Solvay, the economics and management school, in which the author used anti-Semitic stereotypes and prejudices comparable to those of the Protocols of Elders of Zion.

As one student put it, “the situation at the university has become particularly difficult for Jews.”

The Union of Jewish Students urged the academic authorities to take measures against the “deteriorating climate” on the campus.

Brotchi, who is also a member of the Belgian Senate for the Liberal party, has met the university authorities to explain his decision but he didn’t had the impression they understood the gravity of the situation.

“I explained them that I know Jewish families who prefer to send their children study at UCL, the Catholic university,” he told EJP.

In an interview published last month by the Belgian weekly Le Vif-L’Express, the Rector, Didier Viviers, flatly denied that his university has become anti-Semitic “because of  several regrettable incidents”, and spoke of a “smear campaign.”

According to Brotchi the situation at Brussels University is not isolated. “It is comparable to what is happening in other universities in Europe and elsewhere with the academic boycott of Israel campaigns where anti-Zionism takes the form of anti-Semitism.”  “But this is no reason to stay without reaction,” he added.

This piece is from the European Jewish Press.

5 Responses to “Prominent Belgian Jewish figure resigned from Brussels University Board to denounce anti-Semitic incidents”

  1. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    “In an interview published last month by the Belgian weekly Le Vif-L’Express, the Rector, Didier Viviers, flatly denied that his university has become anti-Semitic “because of several regrettable incidents”, and spoke of a “smear campaign.””

    Or, in other words, “calm down dear, it’s only a few antisemitic incidents”. (Reference clear to UK readers. Explanation available for non-UK residents.)

    Another example for Nick Cohen’s next edition of “What’s Left?”?

    • Bill Says:

      “calm down dear, it’s only a few antisemitic incidents”

      I’m sure as people become more resigned to antisemitism in their midsts, we’ll have people talking about how it’s “an acceptable level of antisemitism.” You know, just enough to get the uppity ones out while retaining the ones “that agree with us.” And when there is one antisemetic incident too many, it’ll be said of the ones that leave that “they were really never with the progrom anyway.”

      • Lynne T Says:

        or perhaps an “understandable” amount of antisemitism, inspired by whatever current beef the opinion forming classes may be venting about that Irael did or didn’t do

  2. Absolutely Observer Says:

    If I recall, Sean Wallis at the recent UCU conference claimed that he was victim of a “libel” – What he doesn’t understand is that a libel as with a “smear” is a claim that something for which the person was said to have done was not true or not relevant in any way to the matter at hand. In Wallis’ case (as in the present case), this would appear not to be the case. Raising the matter was neither a libel nor a smear (since it was true and relevant to the matter at hand – definitions of antisemitism).
    https://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/05/27/ucl-ucu-branch-secretary-sean-wallis-lines-up-with-antisemitic-lehman-brothers-conspiracy-theorists/
    https://engageonline.wordpress.com/2011/05/30/live-blogging-from-ucu-congress-the-eumc-working-definition

    In fact, the alleging of a libel or a smear campaign in the face of the facts of the matter (it seems that Wallis did make an antisemitic comment regarding Lehman Bros and Israel, that some if not all the matters complained of did occur) is itself, dare I say, a “smear campaign” or libelling the messenger for the message.

  3. Lynne T Says:

    AO:

    Laws around defamation vary between Britain and Canada, and I’m merely a law clerk who specializes in insurance law, but to the best of my knowledge, whether written (libel) or spoken (slander) — what makes for a tortious act is whether there was an intention to harm, not whether what was being communicated was factually correct or not. Then there’s a matter as to whether any harm was actually done.


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