Belgian Minister sparks storm by comparing Jihadists to Jews hiding from Nazis
The Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon on Wednesday sparked a storm by comparing the perpetrators of recent ISIS terror attacks in Brussels to “Jews hiding here during the Nazi occupation.”
During an appearance on the Flemish channel VTM, Jambon of the right-wing Flemish party N-VA (New Flemish Alliance) responded to questions about difficulties the security forces had finding the terrorists who managed to elude them for so long in the heart of Brussels.
“Someone in hiding who receives support from people can stay in hiding for a long time,” Jambon explained, adding that “I often see a comparison with what many Jews who lived here during the Second World War did. Some Jews managed to stay in hiding for four years despite the fact that the [Nazi] regime continuously searched for them. Fortunately they were never found.”
The comparison drew a quick response from Antwerp council member and former MP Claude Marinower, who expressed his disapproval.
“This statement required a reaction,” he said, quoted by the CCLJ website (Community Center of secular Jews in Brussels.
“Comparing jihadist criminals who are in hiding now with innocent Jews seeking to escape being tracked down by Nazis is totally inappropriate, ” Marinower continued.
“I cannot think for a moment that this comparison was intentional on the part of Jan Jambon,” he added.
A spokesman for CCLJ explained that “Mr. Jambon did not intend to hurt the Jewish population of our country. On the contrary, he does not compare Jews to terrorists. He only refers to what was a fact in the history of Belgium: hide people during WWII was something positive and what is happening today in Brussels is not.”
“For Mr. Jambon the comparison was related to the mechanics of hiding,” the spokesman added.
The center released a statement on the incident saying that “we still expect from a politician that they think before making such statements and engaging in such dubious and offensive comparisons.”
This is not Jambon’s first controversial statement.
He began his term in 2014 by saying that people who collaborated with Nazis during the occupation “had their reasons.”
“Collaboration was a mistake, but the people had reasons for doing it at the time,” Jambon said. He apologized for the comment after the opposition demanded that he be dismissed from his position.