Courtesy of Jerusalem Newswire, February 24, 2003
THE BELGIAN BLOOD LIBEL
By Ryan Jones
JERUSALEM - Concerning Belgium's recent decision to allow its court system to prosecute Ariel Sharon for alleged "war crimes" following his term as Israel's prime minister, several commentators have rightly pointed out that this style of "universal justice" is certainly legitimate and even necessary.
Israel itself justly apprehended, prosecuted and executed convicted Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1960.
Many of those same commentators have also pointed out not only Belgium's baseless, double-standard in this particular case, but also its lack of moral authority to render judgment against Mr. Sharon or Israel because of its own genocidal past.
While much of the following information has been alluded to in several publications, it bears repeating for the sake of cohesive clarity.
From the late 19th century until 1960, Belgium ruled what it called the "Congo Free State" in central Africa. For the first several decades, this colonial possession was solely under the sovereign authority of Belgium's King Leopold II. During this time unimaginable atrocities against the Congolese people at the hands of the Belgians were recorded as the colonial power sought to plunder the country's rubber resources.
Some have pointed to the modern benefits the Belgian state imparted to the Congolese after Leopold was forced to hand his personal fiefdom over to the parliament as sufficient recompense for decades of torture and genocide. The small bit of truth in this position notwithstanding, there are undoubtedly many Congolese families that still have a bone to pick with Belgium.
Belgium's indifferent dealings with the Africans, however, did not end in 1960. In 1994 a Belgian-led UN "peacekeeping force" apathetically withdrew from its former colony of Rwanda after suffering minimal casualties at the hands of rebel forces, despite clear evidence that those same rebels would use the absence of the Europeans to massacre thousands of innocents.
The results are well known - Hutu militiamen slaughtered in horrific manner Tutsi men, women and children shortly after the Belgians' departure.
Belgium's record on its home continent does not read much better. During World War II, Belgium, as did most Nazi-occupied nations, in large part actively cooperated with the Germans to round up its Jewish population for eventual murder. The Belgians handed over more than 35,000 Jews to their Nazi executioners with little reluctance.
Arguments that the Belgians had no choice fall limply by the wayside when one considers the heroic measures the people of Denmark, including their king, went to in order to save the Jews of their nation.
The above examples, which certainly constitute war crimes by any standard, did not take place in the distant past, but rather in the course of the last 100 years. Many of those directly or indirectly responsible, not least of which is the Belgian government as a whole, still live free of prosecution.
A nation with Belgium's recent history of genocide and assistance in genocide seems an odd candidate to claim moral jurisdiction over the world.
As for the Sharon case in particular, Belgium's position as a purveyor of legal justice appears equally unstable.
In 1990, Efraim Zuroff, the head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Israel office, submitted a list of 14 suspected Nazi war criminals to the Belgian Justice Ministry. All 14 men had recently immigrated to Belgium, and were living there as free men.
The list included several Nazi officers who had actively participated in massacring the Jews of Lithuania during World War II. The charges were dismissed by Belgium, which apparently lacked the inclination to pursue a case with possible negative implications for its government and people.
"The Belgians said that they [the Nazi war criminals being harbored by Belgium] cannot be prosecuted because of a 20-year statute of limitations," Zuroff told the press.
If this purported statute of limitations were indeed a full legal precedent in Belgium, the case against Ariel Sharon should be dismissed on the simple basis that his alleged "war crimes" were also committed more than 20 years ago, in 1982.
The fact that the charges were originally filed only 19 years after the Sabra and Shatila massacre took place is now irrelevant, as the original case was thrown out, and thus rendered immaterial, by a Belgian appeals court last year.
Equally noticeable is the fact that the case makes no official charges against the Christian Phalangist forces who actually carried out the massacre, nor against Yasser Arafat's PLO, whose brutal persecution of Lebanon's Christians paved the way for the retributive killing.
In a similar slighting of justice, the Belgian courts have long failed to render judgment on charges brought against Yasser Arafat in November 2001 by Jewish victims of PLO terror.
Also deemed immaterial by the Belgian courts are the findings of an official Israeli inquiry into the massacre some 20 years ago, which ruled that Sharon, as defense minister, had been guilty of a crime of omission for failing to foresee the killing, but certainly not of a crime of commission.
The above evidence lends much credibility to Israeli Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's assertion that the Belgian case against Sharon is nothing less than a political "blood libel" against Israel and the Jewish people.
The unending attention given to what appears to be a baseless case against Sharon, while recognized murderers such as Arafat are afforded virtual immunity - coupled with the fact that Europe is blaming a Jew for a Christian massacre against Muslims - is indeed, as Mr. Netanyahu pointed out, cacophonously reminiscent of past European blood libels against the Jewish people.
Ryan Jones, Website Manager
Israel My Beloved & Jerusalem Newswire
International Christian Zionist Center
Websites: http://www.israelmybeloved.com & http://www.jnewswire.com