Belgium & Jews

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk



Belgium is a small European country. It has a population of about 10 million people in no more than 12,000 square miles. Its people speak either Dutch, called Flemish in Belgium, or French, known as Walloon.

Belgium is best known for two exports:  diamonds and religious hate. The word diamond is Greek and means unchangeable. The English word  ”adamant” is of the same origin. These two exports, diamonds and religious hate, are related in that the diamond trade has traditionally been in Jewish hands and in that the Belgian bigotry consists of seeking to revive the medieval “blood libel” against the Jewish people. The “blood libel” is a lie seeking to prove that Jews kill Christians in order to bake Matzohs with the blood of the murder victims.

Recently, the Belgian parliament and its courts have invented the legend that the killing of Palestinian terrorists in Lebanon in 1982 by Christians was somehow the fault of “the Jews” and that therefore the Belgian courts have a right to “try” Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for the killings of 1982. The truth is that a political party called Phalangists undertook to enter two Palestinian camps in Lebanon and kill numerous terrorists there because the Palestinians in Lebanon committed the same crimes against the Lebanese people which they inflict on Israel every day. The names of the commanders of the Phalangists are Fadi Frem and Elie Hobeika. Ariel Sharon was not there and had nothing to do with this. However, Belgium has a large Arab population, whom the Belgians seek to please by this attack on the Jewish people.

Anti-Jewish conduct is of course not new in any European country and is particularly familiar to the Belgians. In fact, the Belgian government sold diamonds to Hitler during the second world war, which made it possible for the Nazi war machine to cut steel and make ball bearings. Without this Belgian help, the German war machine would have collapsed at once.

It is also well known that if ever there were war criminals in this world they were the administrators of the erstwhile Belgian Congo in Africa. Historians agree that no European nation was as cruel and malicious as colonial masters of black Africans as the Belgians. If they seek war criminals they can easily find them at home.

There are now about 40,000 Jews in Belgium. Many of these Jews live in Antwerp, which has 25 synagogues and 12 different Chasidic sects. Antwerp is also the headquarters of the Belgian diamond trade. There are in Antwerp 1,500 diamond companies and four diamond exchanges. One half of the trade is conducted by Jews, the other half mainly by Indians. The Belgian diamond trade has an annual turnover of $23 billion. Of this, Israel imports about $300,000 worth of unglazed diamonds from Belgium each month.

Israel has a Diamond Exchange located between Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan. It is comprised of four buildings. From there Israel exports $5 billion worth of polished diamonds to the United States, Japan, Belgium, Germany, China, France, England and elsewhere. Therefore trade with Belgian diamond dealers is important to Israel and that is the reason the Arabs living in Belgium attempt to destroy that trade.

That trade is being thinned out today because of new technology. While there were over 19,000 diamond cutters in Antwerp in 1968 there are fewer than 3,500 today, as computer operated machines do better what human hands had done for so long. Therefore, younger Belgian Jews are no longer tied to that trade even as Lebanese, Armenians and Africans have entered into it.

There is one more Jewish angle to the diamond trade. That is the South African connection, because most of the diamonds of the world come from there and many of those resources have traditionally belonged to Jews, including the famous Oppenheimer family, the Barnato family and the families of Isaac Lewis, Alfred Beit and others. Today there are about 100,000 Jews in South Africa. The majority live in the Johannesburg area and many are still in the diamond business. May they prosper.

Meanwhile we need to know that several American Jewish organizations have issued warnings against Jewish travel in Belgium, where synagogues have been burnt, where the chief rabbi was beaten on the street, where Jewish property is firebombed and where the government is following in the footsteps of the Nazi occupiers who were driven out of Belgium and France by American soldiers just sixty years ago.  Belgium and France supported Saddam Hussein and his atrocities even as they groveled before Hitler two generations ago.

Shalom u’vracha.

Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including Grandparents:  A New Look at the Supporting Generation (with Dr. Ursula A., Falk, 2002), & Man's Ascent to Reason (2003).

Home ] Up ]