The prime minister of the Flanders region of Belgium has retracted his comparison of the security fence with the “ghettos during World War II.”
Kris Peeters, during his first-ever visit to Israel this week, stated, “I’m shocked by the separation wall that Israel is erecting. It reminded me of the ghettos during World War II. Strange, because the Jews were victims then.” Peeters met with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas during his visit.
Showing some understanding for the fence, he added: “On the other hand, we cannot imagine how it feels when a bomb could go off at any second.”
The retraction was reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, which quoted Peeters’ spokesman as saying, “Every wall has two sides, and the prime minister saw both. The reference to ghettos was not meant as a comparison with the Nazi ghettos. The prime minister retracts his statement.”
The Belgian Jewish community was extremely upset with Peeters, who is the leader of the Flemish independent region of Belgium, and the Flemish-Jewish weekly responded, “The walls of the Warsaw Ghetto had only one side: The wrong side.”
“Any comparison between the Holocaust and the current conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is totally immoral,” wrote the newspaper’s editor Michael Freilich.
During his visit, Peeters visited Yad VaShem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, and discussed the construction of a new Holocaust Museum in Mechelen, according to European Jewish Press. The city is located between Brussels and Antwerp, from where Jews in Belgium were deported to Auschwitz during WWII.