Pro-Israel students facing death threats in Belgium

12.23.02

Another tip from an e-mail from Judith: If you thought Concordia was bad, life for Jewish students at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium is ten times worse. Ha’aretz reports that pro-Israel students are facing death threats on that campus:

“Jews in Belgium live today in a new reality, one in which they cannot express their sympathy for Israel in any way,” reflects a historian at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the Free University of Brussels. His angry comment came in response to death threats aimed at two Jewish students who put up pro-Israeli posters on campus earlier this month.

Benjamin and Nicole, who agreed to be identified only by their first names, study natural sciences at the Free University, and belong to the Friends of Israel association. Two weeks ago, they and a few other students put up some pro-Israel posters in the student union area of the Brussels campus. The posters conveyed messages such as “Which was the first state in the Middle East which gave Arab women the right to vote,” or “Terror attacks against civilians are an abomination.” Along the bottom of the posters was written “If you’re for tolerance, don’t rip this off the wall,” in anticipation that a leftist group would be likely to remove the new posters.

The next morning, the two students received phone calls from an anonymous caller who had a Middle Eastern accent, and threatened to attack them. “We know who you are and where you live,” the caller threatened, in the call to Nicole. “We also know that you have a brother, as well as the license number of your car and the place where you park it.” The caller continued: “If the flyer isn’t removed by the evening, we’ll burn the car, and harm you and your family.” Benjamin, 22, received a similar phone call.

The students reacted by taking down the posters, because those threats and follow-ups convinced them that their personal safety was at risk. But they later helped stage a rally that drew 1,000 people in support of free speech.

The point is, freedom of speech doesn’t seem to extend to Israel’s supporters on campuses around the world. Incident after incident of this ought to be enough for the alarm bell to sound. You can put up posters in support of Palestinians, Iraqis, Pagans, Wiccans, the Falun Gong, snowboarding, amateur radio, or people who pick their noses. That’s all allowed. But any kind of pro-Israel activity is being met with extraordinary efforts to shut it down.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Hanthala 12.24.02 at 7:14 AM

Or critics of Israel for that matter. Death threats have been a regular occurence for Arab, Muslim, Jewish, and other students critical of Israel at Concordia for the past two years.

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2 Inscrutable American 12.24.02 at 1:29 PM

Hey Hanthala, could you provide some proof to back up your assertion?

This reminds me of an anecdote my friend told me, some years ago. She is Jewish by birth, but isn’t an active Jew (in the sense that she doesn’t go to a synagogue, etc). She said that she supported the state of Israel. When I asked her for the reason she supported Israel, she said that it’s the only place Jews can be safe. Every twenty or thirty years, someone comes along and reminds the Jews that they are Jews.

I support the state of Israel because everyone deserves a home.

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3 Shanti 12.24.02 at 2:23 PM

I agree completely, IA – It is a sad situation when people of a certain religion are so persecuted the world over that they need to seek refuge in a separate country for themselves. They are still not left alone and hunted and hounded by their enemies.

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4 Hanthala 12.24.02 at 4:29 PM

IA: You can look up the threats to the Concordia Student Union on the Concordia website. It was reported in the Thursday Report, the Concordia administration`s newspaper.

http://pr.concordia.ca/ctr/2001-02/Sept_13/12-CSU_Activists/index.shtml

Other than that, there are first-hand accounts by people who havce received the death threats and filed police reports. I`m not going to name anyone here, of course. This is as anecdotal as are the stories of threats received by Israel supporters.

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5 Bill 12.24.02 at 11:47 PM

Who were the people yelling “Death to the Jews”
at the Sept. 9 pogrom?

Just like I said before Hanthala. You
have one thing in common with the girl
who wrote dream of palestine. You both
write fiction.

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6 Hanthala 12.25.02 at 3:52 PM

Bill, Who were the people yelling “death to Arabs” that same day?

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7 Bill 12.26.02 at 12:12 AM

All in your head Hanthala.

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8 Hanthala 12.26.02 at 7:00 PM

Right, collective hallucinations.

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9 Bill 12.27.02 at 6:32 AM

hanthala, It is very interesting that neither
you or Me has responded to the posting
below “opposition of Israeli Arabs to dividing Jerusalem.”

When an Arab or group of Arabs use western
style reasoning to analyze their situation
and determine what is best for them and their
families, it is not something that ideologues
like you can confront. You can’t use your
platitudes of “racism” and “western imperialism”
to counter such arguments.

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10 Hanthala 12.29.02 at 6:00 PM

Bill, what is it exactly that you expect me to say with respect to that article?

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