European Jewish Congress
EJC hears Belgian PM pledge support for country's Jews at CCOJB dinner
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EJC hears Belgian PM pledge support for country's Jews at CCOJB dinner

Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel pledged unwavering support of his government at the annual dinner of the country's Jewish umbrella organisation and EJC affiliate, the Coordinating Committee of Belgian Jewish Organisations (CCOJB).

Addressing the guest, Michel described antisemitism as "a poison... which we have to eradicate".

"Too regularly, Jews are insulted and often brutally attacked because they are Jews," Michel said. "We will not tolerate the trivialisation of this behaviour."

The dinner was also attended by other ministers, ambassadors and MPs.

Welcoming the prime minister at the event, CCOJB President Serge Rozen recalled the terrible recent terror attacks in Brussels and asked those assembled to observe a minute's silence in memory of the 32 victims of the attacks.

Rozen then thanked the Belgian authorities for important changes in the recognition and pension rights of Holocaust survivors but devoted a large part of his speech to the current problems of antisemitism and the terror threat faced by the community.

Belgium's Jews were asking serious questions regarding their future in the country, Rozen said.

"The fight against antisemitism must be recognised and taken on board because it represents a major challenge to our democracy," he said, adding that Michel had been the first serving Belgian prime minister to use appropriate and strong wording to describe the phenomenon.

Thanks were also due to the government for the vast resources provided to beef-up security at Jewish institutions in Belgium.

Closing his speech, his first as CCOJB president to the annual dinner, Rozen warmly thanked his predecessor, Maurice Sosnowski, who had held the post for the past five years.

"I want to assure you that I will pursue his engagement, one of frank and respectful dialogue with the political authorities," Rozen said. "We all share the same love for Belgium, our country," he concluded.

A strong EJC delegation including Executive Vice President Raya Kalenova, Director of Legal and Public Affairs Ariella Woitchik, and Director of European Affairs Nuno Wahnon Martins, attended the dinner.

Thursday, April 14, 2016
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