An organization that tries to delegitimize the Jewish state had planned to honor a BDS advocate at a Belgian Holocaust site.
Catholic NGO Pax Christi’s Belgian entity planned to award its “ambassador for peace” prize to Brigitte Herremans, a leading anti-Israel activist and former employee of the BDS-supporting organization Broederlijk Delen. In a perverse turn of events, Pax Christi tried to hold the award ceremony at Kazerne Dossin, a former transit camp in Mechelen from which Belgian Jews and Romani were sent to their deaths at concentration camps during Holocaust.
Selecting this venue was designed to draw a false equivalence between Nazi war crimes and Israeli policy, a violation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism.
In an October 2019 article announcing the prize recipients, Pax Christi Vlaanderen justified its selection of Herremans, stating that her “way of looking and speaking bears witness to a desire to understand the conflicts in the Middle East and to interpret them as honestly as possible.”
Until February 2018, Herremans worked as a Mideast “policy officer” for the Catholic, Brussels-based pro-BDS organization Broederlijk Delen. Broderlijk Delen is a major funder of numerous NGOs active in delegitimization campaigns against Israel, including Defense for Children International – Palestine, a group which has ties with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group.
Based on her promotion of boycotts of the Jewish state, Herremans was barred from entering Israel in 2016.
Pax Christi Vlaanderen touts itself as a Catholic “peace movement” with 120 member organizations worldwide, respect of human rights, justice, and reconciliation. In reality, it works systemically to delegitimize and demonize the Jewish state. To that end, it is a signatory of the “Made in Illegality” campaign in Belgium, which calls on Belgium and France to end “economic relations” with Israeli “settlements,” a pejorative they use to describe Jewish communities on Judea and Samaria.
The campaign’s demands include banning Belgian import of all “settlement products,” discouraging Belgian companies “from investing in settlements,” and preparing information for travelers “to ensure that they avoid supporting companies and tourist sites that are located in the settlements.”
In response to outcry from a number of Jewish organizations, the Kazerne Dossin Holocaust museum canceled Pax Christi’s award ceremony for Herremans, who has claimed in the past that Israel supporters “vastly inflate” accusations of anti-Semitism.