Belgian pro-Israel group in row over trade union official’s hate speech
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Belgian pro-Israel group in row over trade union official’s hate speech

Dr Robrecht Vanderbeeken is accused of using antisemitic language by Belgian Friends of Israel

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Screenshot from video by BFOI of Dr Robrecht Vanderbeeken, accused of hate speech
Screenshot from video by BFOI of Dr Robrecht Vanderbeeken, accused of hate speech

A row has broken out between the Belgian Friends of Israel and UNIA, the country’s independent anti-discrimination body, over UNIA’s reluctance to take action against the trade union official, Dr Robrecht Vanderbeeken, for alleged antisemitic hate speech.

Four members of the BFOI executive met co-managers of UNIA to present a petition calling for action to be taken against Dr Vanderbeeken, who accused Israel of murdering Palestinian children for their organs in an article on a Belgian website, De Wereld Morgen.

But, according to the BFOI, although the UNIA directors agreed that Dr Vanderbeeken’s claims amounted to hate speech, “under current legislation, his accusations could not be prosecuted on the basis that they were not addressed to specific people in Belgium, but were addressed to a foreign country, its military and its people, hence no action would be taken”.

The BFOI rejected this response as “both weak and a lame excuse for doing nothing”, and plan to take the matter to the federal justice minister of Belgium.

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