Saturday, September 8, 2007


A Jewish friend of mine wanted to talk about whether a museum dedicated to the holocaust in Belgium the Dossin Kazerne in Mechelen, could be transformed without taking away from the Jewish suffering in that place, into a Museum to teach about genocide. I have visited the wretched place, which was a Sammellager, where people, almost 25.000 Jews and about 350 Gypsies, were brought together to be deportated to the concentration camps. Two thirds were gassed upon arrival. That should never be forgotten. The Museum is really impressive and moving. I see the value of teaching the causes for genocide, but when a place has been instrumental in one specific, well documented atrocity then we should take that concrete place and it’s events as the example, the didactic instrument to teach how to avoid later genocides like in Rwanda, the former republic of Yugoslavia and so on, because obviously such loss of life should be avoided, made impossible. All conflicts need to find a peaceful, non- violent and fair resolution.
There is a clear demarcation line between not believing that the State of Israel is acting right and being an anti-Semite. We should have the right, from an honest point of view, to question and criticize what seems wrong or disproportionate. The other question she asks is whether ‘Antwerp Jews’, a rather large and pretty influential group in the diamond city that Antwerp is, are Jews or Flemish or Belgians. Living in a state one becomes a citizen of that state, whatever the genealogy… Of course there are different cultural groups, all quite distinctive: Moroccans, Italians who constitute the largest group of migrants in Belgium, Dutch, Turks, Jews, Armenians and even Americans… In the square mile I live at the last count there were 67 nationalities and I do like that. All these groups have a right to their own cultural, religious traditions, which are within the law of the land. So no female genital mutilations, no slaughtering of animals in one’s own house, equal rights for women and men… The latter is a mute point within all monotheistic religions.

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