Jewish groups criticized Belgian educational authorities this week after a
government-funded website was discovered hosting lesson plans comparing Israelis
A lesson plan on the klascement.be database included a
cartoon comparing contemporary Gazans with Jews incarcerated in concentration
camps as well as a roleplaying exercise in which students were asked to imagine
the world through the eyes of a Hamas sympathizer, Joods Actueel, a monthly
Jewish newspaper, reported.
Teachers looking for lesson plans on the
Holocaust and other atrocities are referred to the site by a link on the
homepage of the Special Committee for Remembrance Education (BCH), which is
funded in part by the Education Ministry.
The BCH represents both “the
school advisory boards of the various educational networks” as well as the
Flemish Education Ministry, according to its website.
Institute, a conservative think tank based in New York, translated the
“You have sympathy for the radical group Hamas. You live
in Gaza and go to work every day in Israel. It takes you four hours to go to
work as you need to pass the border control between Gaza and Israel. You are
already on your way at 4 a.m. You have two children in primary school. As a
consequence, the death of a Palestinian girl shot by Israeli soldiers in the
school playground has shocked you deeply. Israel denies having shot the child,
but according to representatives of the United Nations in Gaza everything
indicates that she was killed by the Israelis. Hamas has fired six
rockets toward Israel. Israel has to stop with its attacks.”
Wiesenthal Center condemned the lessons, calling them “a classic example of
Holocaust inversion, in which the descendants of the victims of the Shoah are
portrayed as the new Nazis.”
“This is a total perversion of the of the
lessons of the Shoah and a phenomenon which is cause for grave
It also underscores the potential dangers of the misuse and
exploitation of the recent expansion of Holocaust education in many countries in
the world, and especially in Europe,” the center’s Efraim Zuroff told The
Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
While “the extreme anti- Israel and
anti-Semitic material was not part of the official curriculum on Holocaust
education,” it was “in the database available to teachers,” Michael Salberg, the
Anti-Defamation League director of international affairs, said.
lessons have been taken offline subsequent to the Joods Actueel story, Salberg
said it was still “shocking that material so offensive and dangerous found its
way into any classroom anywhere.”
The system for providing teaching
materials, “while based on good intentions, has produced consequences that call
for reviewing and improving the process.”
A spokesman for the Brussels-
based European Jewish Association told the Post the group planned on “filing a
suit for slander against the group that is circulating the inflammatory
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, director of the EJA, called for “an
immediate cessation of funding” to klascement.be and said the Jewish
community was “battling an anti-Israel sentiment that has degenerated into a new
form of anti-Semitism in all arenas – legal, political and the
Anti-racism volunteers registered 80 anti-Semitic incidents
throughout Belgium in 2012, according to a report released by the
Antisemitsm.Be watchdog group. This represents a 23 percent
increase over 2011.
In response to an inquiry on the lesson issue from
the Post, a representative of the education minister said that an “answer is
In a statement on its website on Thursday, the BCH denied
any connection to the materials.
“To reach a wide range of teachers we
started last year a collaboration with KlasCement, an organization that holds a
database with educational materials. This organization is also part of the
Flemish government. The database of Remembrance Education is in therefore only a
part of the bigger website.
BCH emphasizes that the two cases, discussed
in the article, were not published in the database of Remembrance
“We will not support any Israel-hatred or Jews-hatred lesson
practices,” BCH asserted.
“We are not accepting the accusations made in
this article and we already have asked a right to reply,” the BCH’s Klaartje De
Guido Joris, the reporter who initially wrote about the
lesson plans, disagrees.
“BHC is a government institute and KlasCement is
also a government institute,” Joris told the Post. “Both are under the authority
of the Flemish minister of education.”
“An official from the Education
Ministry has to give approval for everything on KlasCement,” he
While he believes that BCH was unaware of the alleged anti-Semitic
content, he believes it had a responsibility to know what was on the website to
which it was referring teachers.
“You cant say ‘I’m not responsible,’”
JTA contributed to this report.