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Posts Tagged ‘Belgium

Belgium, Flemish Parliament Honours Nazi Collaborators.

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Flemish Parliament funds brochure honouring Nazi collaborators - European Jewish Congress

Flemish Nationalists Honour Nazis.

This story began over the weekend.

Flemish Parliament funds brochure honouring Nazi collaborators

The Coordinating Committee of Belgian Jewish Organisations (CCOJB), the country’s EJC affiliate, has expressed outrage after a brochure honouring Nazi collaborators was published with funding from the Flemish Parliament.

The brochure, which was published as part of a special edition celebrating 50 years of the Flemish Parliament, depicted Nazi collaborators Staf De Clercq and August Borms among figures which have “shaped the emancipation of our language and our people”, as reported by the daily, De Standaard.

De Clercq, one of Belgium’s most notorious collaborators and the leader of the pro-Nazi Flemish National League (VNV), is described in the brochure as “an educator and language border activist”. Borms, who was sentenced to death as a collaborator and refused to denounce the Nazis is described as “a teacher and figurehead of activism during World War I.” The brochure does acknowledge that they were both Nazi collaborators.

“Honouring these collaborators of the Nazi regime is scandalous, at a time where we face growing concerns about our safety and our children being increasingly exposed to unbridled antisemitism”, said CCOJB President Yohan Benizri.

RTBF, today.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Flemish Parliament (or rather the creation in 1971 of the Cultural Council of the Dutch Community), it has decided, under the aegis of its president Liesbeth Homans (N-VA), to highlight 14 personalities who ” contributed to the emancipation of the people and their language ” in a special edition of Newsweek magazine. Among these rare hand-picked representatives are two notorious collaborators: August Borms and Staf De Clercq. A ” scandalous ” honour declared  Yohan Benizri, president of the Coordination Committee of Jewish Organisations in Belgium (CCOJB).

Le Soir today.

La mise à l’honneur de deux collaborateurs nazis par le Parlement flamand irrite

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Flemish Parliament (or rather the creation in 1971 of the Cultural Council of the Dutch Community), the assembly decided, under the aegis of its president Liesbeth Homans (N-VA), to highlight 14 personalities having “contributed to the emancipation of the people and their language”. Among these rare hand-picked representatives are two notorious collaborators: August Borms and Staf De Clercq. A “scandalous” honour for Yohan Benizri, president of the Coordination Committee of Jewish Organizations in Belgium (CCOJB).

“Many young Belgians do not know the history of their country,” he laments. “You can’t fight hate speech effectively when you celebrate a shameful legacy. This effects of this message are totally deleterious. “

 

Le Soir notes that the Flemish paper of record De Standaard also reacted,

 De Standaard also wondered last week: “Is it appropriate to honour two Nazi sympathizers, collaborators with the German occupier, including one (Borms) during the two world wars in addition?” “Wondering whether the Flemish parliament had become ‘masochist’, the daily recalled that ‘if Borms and De Clercq had achieved their ends, there would never have been a question of a Flemish parliament, or even of a democracy in general “.

The biggest group in the Flemish Parliament is the hard right  N-VA. New Flemish Alliance (Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie) led nationally by Bart  De Wever. and in the region by Wilfried Vandaele.

There is also a strong pres ence (outside the ruling coalition) of the more openly far-right Vlaams Belang 23 seats, which has roots in the nationalist movement, such as the Flemish National League,  which collaborated with the German occupation. There is only limited Green and left-wing representation.

Flemish Parliament:

Government (70)

  •   N-VA (35)
  •   CD&V (19) Christian Democrats/Flemish nationalists.
  •   Open Vld (16) Right wing Liberals.

 

Opposition (54)

De Weever is a right wing nationalist, with ‘conservative’ views on just about everything. In October 2007, in reaction to the apology of the Mayor of Antwerp for his city’s collaboration in the deportation of Jews during the Second World War, Bart De Wever said that:

“Antwerp did not organise the deportation of the Jews, it was the victim of Nazi occupation … Those who were in power at the time had to take tricky decisions in difficult times. I don’t find it very courageous to stigmatise them now.

Bart De Wever is a fervent supporter of Catalan nationalism, and a close ally of its leading figure, Carles Pauigdemont.

De Wever : “Puigdemont est un ami que l’on ne laisse pas tomber”

De Wever: “Puigdemont is a friend that we will never let down”.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 19, 2021 at 1:16 pm

Far Right Marches in Brussels Against UN Marrakech Migration Pact.

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Protesters in Brussels march against the UN migration pact

Not only British Brexiteers are anti-Immigration: Our People First! (Vlaams Belang).

The BBC reports:

Thousands of demonstrators in Brussels have marched against a UN migration pact, signed in Marrakech last week.

Flemish right-wing parties called the march, which took place near major EU institutions, amid fears the pact could lead to an increase in immigration.

Police deployed tear gas and water cannon as clashes broke out. About 5,500 protesters took part.

A counter-protest organised by left-wing groups and charities in the city centre drew about 1,000 people.

The largest member of Belgium’s ruling coalition, the right-wing N-VA party, left the government last Sunday in protest against the prime minister’s decision to sign the agreement.

Edition numérique des abonnés

Rats de gauches», «notre peuple d’abord»: des extrémistes flamands dérapent dans le quartier européen

Le Soir.

The far-right, principally the Vlaams Belang headed nebuleuse, KVHV, NSV, Schild & Vrienden, Voorpost and  Vlaams Belang Jongeren,  are trying to out bid the N-VA of Bart  De Wever in opposition to the UN agreement.

Against the 5,550 far-right marchers around 1,500 demonstrators responded to the call of left-wing organisations, including the trade union FGTB-CGSP for a “marche pour Marrakech””

Marches “pour” et “contre” Marrakech à Bruxelles: une centaine de personnes interpellées, six personnes privées de liberté

La Libre Belgique also reports that a section of the Gilets Jaunes in Belgium joined the anti-racist protest, after strong attempts by the Vlaams Belang and the N-VA to win them to anti-migrant stand.

Des “gilets jaunes” se joignent à la marche contre le racisme à Bruxelles

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 17, 2018 at 5:26 pm

The local election breakthrough of the radical left Belgian Workers’ Party.

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Sunday’s local election results in Belgian saw a breakthrough in the French speaking areas by the Green Party (up by 4,42%) and in Antwerp ( 18,4 %  for De Groen),and a big rise in support for the radical left, le Parti du travail (PTB) Partij van de Arbeid van België, PVDAThe latter scored  15, 8 % in Charleroi, in 16,5 % Liège 8,9 % à Anvers, 11,6 % in Bruxelles ville and 13,6 % in  Molenbeek. (le Monde).

In Brussels, the Ecolo/Groen party registered historical gains, coming first or second in several local councils, including Ixelles and Forest, where it displaced the ruling socialist party.

The leftist PTB was the other big winner, although they weren’t expected to enter ruling coalitions in any of the 19 “communes” of Brussels.

The main loser in the capital of Europe is the right-wing MR, the party of Prime Minister Charles Michel, which was challenged in its Uccle stronghold by a rising Green wave.

Elsewhere in Brussels, the socialists registered a symbolic victory in Molenbeek, where they beat MR incumbent Françoise Scheepmans, who came second despite winning praise for her handling of the Brussels terrorist attacks of 2016.

In Flanders, the separatist N-VA (New Flemish Alliance), which advocates the gradual dissolution of Belgium, solidified its leadership although the Green party made gains there as well.

The N-VA’s leadership was also challenged by the far-right Vlaams Belang, which won the commune of Ninove near Brussels, where the Forza Ninove list of Guy D’Haeseleer came in as a clear winner.

Traditional parties hammered in Belgian local election

A number of papers highlighted the election of the first Black mayor in Belgium, Pierre Kompany, the father of Vincent Kompany, the captain of Manchester City , in Ganshoren (De Standaard).

Flanders, apart from the success of the Greens in Antwerp, remains on the right with a return of the far-right Vlaams Belang.  There is already a scandal, this morning about the  Guy D’haeseleer, spreading a racist photo on Facebook, which has led the nationalist NV-A to rule out any deals with them in the far-right’s new stronghold (40% of the vote under the name, “Forza Ninove”) in the Ninove commune of Brabant cited above.  (Ninove: Bart De Wever exclut de gouverner avec le Vlaams Belang après diffusion d’une photo raciste.)

For the left the results for the Parti du Travail (PTB) – which claims around 10,000 members – are of interest across Europe.

Percée de la gauche authentique dans les villes du pays, à Bruxelles, en Wallonie et en Flandre

The PTB begins by noting that they have gone from  50 to 157 local councillors.

These are concentrated in French speaking districts but the PTB has some representatives in Flanders, and won  8,7 % in Antwerp  and got 4 seats on the City council and 19 seats on district councils.

Their President, Peter Mertens, declared that they will celebrate this advance, and called for The Struggle.

Nous nos élus et notre parti seront au service des luttes locales et nationales. Notre avancée doit se traduire par une avancée de la résistance social.

Our elected representatives and our party will put themselves on the side of local and national struggles. Our gains must lead to strengthening the fight-back in society.

The most important fact about the success of the PTB is it has happened in a country, Belgium,  in which the two sister social democratic parties  the Parti socialiste,  and the Socialistische Partij Anders, have never faced a serious challenge from the left. Even if weakened the PS won 32% of the vote in the previous elections in the south of the country.

PTB is often accused of ‘populism’ and might appear part of the wave of ‘left populist’,  parties like La France insoumise (LFI) that have become the focus of interest on the European left,

The PTB strongly denies this, above all the idea that classes are being dissolved into the ‘people’. Their objective is the make workers aware of their identity, and to organise people into struggles for their rights “Il s’agit donc de reconquérir, de faire un travail de conscientisation, de mobilisation, d’organisation de cette classe de travailleurs.”

It is through these struggles that they intend to fight not just the ruling capitalist neoliberal political class but also the far-right.

The PTB also rejects the principle (follow my gaze…) that they should be run by a charismatic leader, (“césarisme ou l’idée de l’homme providentiel”). Councillors live in the  areas they represent and are expected to only take an average salary for their work).

Their strategy is not to govern at any price, but to conquer real power, from the bottom upwards – which one translate as a homage to Léon Blum who distinguished the ‘exercise of power’ in government from the conquest of power.

(More on Le Vent se lève site:  LE PTB FAIT TREMBLER LA POLITIQUE BELGE – ENTRETIEN AVEC DAVID PESTIEAU. Maximilien Dardel.)

To account for the growth in electoral support for the PTB in formerly socialist voting areas one need look no further than this compendium of corruption and other scandals involving the PS over decades.

“Une répétition de scandales en 30 ans de pouvoir”: rappel en archives vidéo

More recently (2017) there was this: En Wallonie, le PS éclaboussé par un vaste scandale.

PS elected representatives were paid  500 euros… à la minute to attend meetings…..

Returning the the issue of ‘populism’, what are the PTB’s views on Europe?

The Left must not fall in one of these two traps. As a Marxist, and coming from an authentic leftist tradition, I think we have to try to radically change Europe from the inside. We should not dynamite the entire European idea, but, like an engineer working on a bridge, dynamite the bad columns.

Defending a position of withdrawal from the European Union in Belgium, at the heart of Europe, is not going to raise public awareness a lot, I think. The situation is obviously different in countries at the periphery of the continent, and I understand that for them the possibility of leaving the eurozone, can be a topic of debate.

Promise on the Belgian Left  An Interview with Peter Mertens. 

That comment stands out in a an interview in Jacobin in 2017, with one of the leading figures of the PTB.

One cannot however, like the interviewer, skirt around the issue of the party’s ‘Marxist-Leninist’ origins nor their defence during the 1980s of Stalin.

Ludo Martens (PTB President from 1979 to 1999) was the author of Un autre regard sur Stalin, Another View of Stalin.

This concludes:

At the end of the twentieth century, humanity has sort of returned to the start state, to the years 1900–1914, where the imperialist powers thought that they could run the world among themselves. In the years to come, as the criminal, barbaric and inhuman character of imperialism shows itself more and more clearly, new generations who never knew Stalin will pay homage to him.

They will follow the words of Mao Zedong who, on December 21, 1939, in the distant caves of that huge China, toasted Stalin’s sixtieth birthday:

`Congratulating Stalin means supporting him and his cause, supporting the victory of socialism, and the way forward for mankind which he points out, it means supporting a dear friend. For the great majority of mankind today are suffering, and mankind can free itself from suffering only by the road pointed out by Stalin and with his help.’
.
Mao Tse-Tung, `Stalin, Friend of the Chinese People’, Works, vol. 2, p. 335.

It is hard to forget that.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 16, 2018 at 11:36 am