Unia issues 10 recommendations in fight against rising antisemitism
Since the escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Belgium's inter-federal Equal Opportunities Centre Unia has recorded an "alarming rise" in reports of antisemitic incidents. 85 per cent of the cases involve hate messages and hate crimes, and discrimination is also on the rise. The centre has made 10 policy recommendations.
Among Unia's proposals are Monitoring Unit, a platform for dialogue and cooperation between representatives of the Jewish community, the government and other actors in the fight against antisemitism. Unia wants to build on that mechanism, which was established in 2004 and revamped in 2022. According to Unia, police registration and reporting are being run "very poorly".
Furthermore, more effort is needed in terms of research and education. Over the past five years, 20 per cent of antisemitism cases involved Holocaust denial. Unia believes that fixing this attitude starts at school. In 2022, education was the worst domain for Belgium in a report by the European Network Against Anti-Semitism. "Teachers must be retrained to prevent all forms of racism, racial discrimination, intolerance and bullying at school," Unia said.
Unia would like to see antisemitism included in the existing federal, Brussels and French-language action plans against racism. "Unia believes that antisemitism is a special form of racism with some specific characteristics. Therefore, the fight against antisemitism also deserves a place in anti-racism plans," the report said.
Between 7 October, the start of the war between Israel and Palestine, and 7 December, Unia recorded 91 reports directly related to the conflict. By comparison, in 2022, there were an average of four to five reports of antisemitism per month. The same happened in late 2008 and early 2009, when the Israeli army carried out Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.
Protests in Antwerp and Brussels saw some individuals responsible for antisemitic slogans targeting the Jewish community in Belgium.
© BELGA PHOTO JONAS ROOSENS