The umbrella group of Jewish Organizations in Antwerp deplored remarks made by Prime Minister of Flanders, Kris Peeters, during his visit to Israel earlier this week.
Peeters said he was "shocked" by the security fence built by Israel and compared it to the Jewish ghettos during World War II.
"I was shocked by the separation b being built by Israel. It reminded me of the ghettos during World War II. Strange, because the Jews were victims then. It reminds me of the ghettos of World War II. It's strange, because at the time, it was the Jews who were victims.”
Peeters added: “On the other hand, we cannot imagine how it feels when a bomb could go off at any second.”
For the Forum of Jewish Organizations, this comparison is "unfortunate" and "inappropriate".
"Many Jews victims of deportation and extermination were in fact first put behind walls of ghettos like in Warsaw. The only way out was death by starvation, disease or deportation in inhumane conditions to extermination camps. The security wall between Israel and the West Bank meets the need of the State to protect its citizens effectively against terrorism which has made thousands of victims among Israeli citizens, men, women and children.”
The security fence, said the Forum, has successfully reduced "dramatically" the number of attacks, and thus saved many lives.
"Therefore the unfortunate comparison of Prime Minister Peeters was totally inappropriate."
The Forum requested a meeting to the minister to discuss the topic and “clear up misunderstandings."
A spokesman for Peeters said Wednesday that he had not wanted to make comparisons between the wall and the ghetto. "Each wall has two sides, and the Prime Minister has seen both sides. He did not compare to the Nazi ghettos. He withdrew his statement."
During his visit to Israel, Kris Peeters visited the Holocaust Memorial at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and discussed the construction of a new Holocaust museum in Mechelen, a Belgian city where Jews were gathered before being deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp.