Two months after the International Legal Forum notified the Belgian Ministry of Education regarding an anti-Semitic caricature featuring in an official Belgian schoolbook, the Belgian Ministry of Education announced in response that it will be removed in the next edition.
The caricature, found in a Belgian geography book designed for 15-year-olds and previously approved by the Belgian education system, features an overweight Jew asleep in a bathtub near an impoverished Palestinian with an empty bucket, in a chapter dealing with the topic of water distribution between Israelis and Palestinians.
The ILF sent a harsh letter to Belgium’s Education Minister demanding that the antisemitic cartoon be removed from the textbooks, claiming that this act is not only immoral but also illegal as it, among other things, clearly also violates the resolution adopted by the European Parliament on 1 June 2017, which calls on member states and their institutions to adopt and apply the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.
The disgraceful story made headlines and received wide-range media exposure in Israel and across world Jewry, shocking readers that the Belgian education system would allow schoolbooks that poison the minds of young students with hatred and incitement.
In a response letter sent recently by Belgium’s Education Minister Hilde Crevits to the director of the ILF, attorney Yifa Segal, Crevits informed that the publisher of the book had confirmed that the caricature would be removed from the next version of the book.
According to Crevits, one of the goals of the education system is to educate the young generation to be “respectful and critical citizens”. She also mentions that the Flemish government determines the levels of achievement while it belongs to the autonomy of schools to choose proper textbooks.
Attorney Yifah Segal welcomed the announcement by the Belgian Minister of Education:
“The appearance of the anti-Semitic caricature was undoubtedly shocking and regrettable. We congratulate the Minister for her understanding of the seriousness of the matter and on her efforts to remove this anti-Semitic content. Hate speech, incitement and anti-Semitism are contrary to European law. We hope that there will be no further serious incidents of this kind, and we will continue to act whenever they happen.”