NOA Belgian Report Card Findings Now Available!
“Antisemitism is a structural pillar of racism, and racism will not be eradicated without overcoming antisemitism. By acknowledging existing gaps and opportunities in current national policy and making a concerted, coordinated effort to prevent and counter antisemitism and racism, a clearer path can be opened towards a more inclusive and equitable society.” – Robin Sclafani, Director of CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe.
On 15 June, the NOA Belgian Report Card was launched. The NOA Belgian Report Card showcases the current national policy landscape in 10 areas: culture, education, hate crime, hate speech, Holocaust remembrance, intercultural dialogue, media, religious freedom, security, and sport. The research demonstrates that there is still much the Belgian government can and should do to combat antisemitism. There appears to be resistance amongst policymakers to pass specific measures or to honour commitments made at the national or European Union level, including plans for a national coordinator to combat antisemitism. This is despite the 2018 Resolution by the Belgian Senate which essentially laid out the road map for a first national action plan against antisemitism, including a call for a national coordinator on the matter.
The report uncovered the following key findings:
- The country is strongest in legislation addressing the more serious and escalated forms of antisemitism, such as laws concerning security, hate crime, and hate speech. It is weakest in implementation measures aimed at preventing discrimination that targets Jewish people and communities.
- The policy area that scored the lowest—by a substantial margin—is undoubtedly the most important: education. This indicates a considerable opportunity for positive growth and development with long-term impact.
- The five policy areas that received the highest scores are (in descending order): security, religious freedom, hate crime, Holocaust remembrance, and hate speech. This demonstrates that on basic safety and security issues, the country is doing relatively well.
- The only areas to receive a 100% score were related to Holocaust denial and distortion in hate speech and hate crime legislation. This highlights a disparity between the treatment of past trauma and current challenges.
- Overall, the state has done little to address antisemitism as a specific type of racism worthy of targeted interventions alongside of and/or incorporated into greater public efforts.
On 15 June, Belgian policy-makers and policy-influencers gathered at the Royal Academy to consider the results of the newly-released NOA Belgian Report Card. Highlights from speakers throughout the day can be found below:
‘We must stand together and speak with one voice. We are living in dangerous and fragile times: cohesion is key.’ – Alain Philippson, President of CEJI
‘We wanted to marry education, culture and security, rather than compete with each other for resources. We wanted to strengthen the new emergence of policies to prevent and counter antisemitism, in a complementary process to the much-welcomed momentum in anti-racism and anti-discrimination policies, more broadly speaking. This is what we aim to do with the National Report Card.’ – Robin Sclafani, Lead Researcher and Director of CEJI
‘We need to give the right answers to antisemitic incidents, with a support mechanism for victims if necessary. We have worked strongly on harassment within schools, which can have a positive impact when tackling problematic behaviour. We need to work hard on this: it will require co-education and justice at school. All education systems should promote human rights.’ – Caroline Désir, Minister of Education of Wallonia-Brussels Federation
‘It is important to highlight that we must fight against racism and antisemitism in all forms. We must fight it as citizens, when we hear remarks, and as decision makers, we need to take action also on a policy level.’ – Sarah Schlitz, Secretary of State for Gender Equality, Equal Opportunities and Diversity
‘We must work together, holistically, to tackle antisemitism in Belgium society. For that reason, we aim to publish a comprehensive report on the state of antisemitism in Belgium.’ – Patrick Charlier, Co-Director of the Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities (UNIA)
‘We should determine ourselves, by ourselves. Our identity can benefit society, but we must be inclusive. We need a progressive, anti-racist, civil, society – one that fights against racism in all forms, including antisemitism.’ – Sacha Guttman, in cooperation with the Union of Belgian Jewish Students
‘If we are lucky, maybe we will manage not necessarily to love one another, but to at least respect one another.’ – Moussia Garelik, in cooperation with the Union of Belgian Jewish Students
‘When people look at the colour of my skin, they don’t think I am a Jew. For me, Judaism means belonging. It is a common experience and a relationship with my deep roots. Judaism is my closest friend, and an extension of my family. I am deeply related to it, more than I am to my blackness.’ Lina Nkoko, in cooperation with the Union of Belgian Jewish Students
‘I think it is important for both Jewish and non-Jewish communities to reach out of their bubble, and their communities, and increase interaction between us. A bottom-up approach is the only way we can move forward, trust each other, and eliminate antisemitism.’ – Ethan Bergman, in cooperation with the Union of Belgian Jewish Students
‘It is painful to think you have to hide a part of yourself – a part you love, a part that makes you who you are. Through exchange, we can learn from each other, be empathetic, and be more tolerant when it comes to each and everyone’s experiences.’ – Ariane Rubin Bzurovski, in cooperation with the Union of Belgian Jewish Students
‘No longer do Jewish people have to separate their Jewish lives from their public lives. Do not remain stuck in your own community. Mingle, whilst keeping your own identity. Be inclusive. Do not separate or isolate yourself, because as a Jew, you alone can overcome biases and prejudices in your community.’ – Nadine Iarchy, Forum der Joodse Organisaties
‘I want to commend you all for your efforts, and for your commitment to an inclusive, open society based on fundamental human rights.’ – Baron Jacques Brochi, Former and Honorary President of the Belgian Senate
‘Antisemitism goes well beyond the Jewish community. It affects all of us, whether Jewish, LGBT, or otherwise. Whatever territory we are in, we need the same rights and opportunities to prosecute the perpetrators.’ – Rajae Maouane, Co-President Ecolo
‘Antisemitism must be prosecuted. Like speeding in a car, we should have sanctions in place that happen much faster than they currently are.’ – George-Louis Bouchez, Member of the Belgian Senate and Leader of Mouvement Réformateur
‘Antisemitism is harmful to our social cohesion, like any form of racism or xenophobia, and it should be fought against as such. The NOA report shows we have some legal and judicial tools in Belgium, but the problem is using them. We must work on this.’ – Martin Casier, Deputy of the PS parliamentary group in the House of Representatives
‘It is important in our Belgian environment, where we used to be separated based on religious origins, to have more holistic religious education. If we all knew a little more about other religions, we would see the similarities in each other.’ – François De Smet, President DeFi
‘The NOA Report shows that in our country, we have some very good actions, but that there is no general policy plan in order to combat antisemitism. This report, composed in a magnificent way, arrives at an excellent time.’ – Jan Deboutte, Former IHRA Delegate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
‘It is great to see this EU-funded project coming to fruition. The NOA Score Cards help to detect strengths and weaknesses in preventing and addressing antisemitism across 10 policy areas from education to security and sports. This will allow for targeted and specific action.’ – Katarina Von Schnurbein, European Commission Coordinator on Combatting Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life
ABOUT THE NOA PROJECT
NOA – Networks Overcoming Antisemitism offers a pioneering approach to tackling the problem of rising antisemitism in Europe. With its unique partnership of major Jewish networks, the NOA Report Card benchmarks EU Member States’ policies across 10 policy areas and helps them to develop holistic national action plans to address and prevent antisemitism and foster Jewish life. For more information, see: www.noa-project.eu
NOA Partners include:
ABOUT CEJI – LEAD PARTNER, NOA PROJECT
CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe stands with people of all backgrounds to promote a Europe of diversity and respect. A Jewish voice at the European level, our activities include delivering diversity education and enhancing interfaith and intercultural dialogue while advocating in the EU against antisemitism and discrimination of all kinds.
For more information, see: www.ceji.org.
For additional information or to arrange an interview please contact:
Amy Leete, Communication Officer firstname.lastname@example.org