Belgian car repair shop won’t serve Jews because of the owner’s views on Israel.
By Pesach Benson, United With Israel
The umbrella organization of Belgium’s Jewish community is taking legal action against a car repair shop owner who refuses to serve Jewish customers.
Ludo Eyckmans, who owns a garage in the Antwerp suburb of Stabroek, emailed the media announcing his refusal to serve Jews in protest of Israel’s policies towards Ukraine, according to the Belgian Jewish newspaper, Joods Actueel.
“As of today, our Jewish clients are no longer welcome for maintenance of their cars or solving electronic problems,” Eyckmans wrote. He went on to refer to Israel’s “failure to recognize war crimes” by the Russian army in Ukraine.
Joods Actueel reported that the Forum of Jewish Organizations, which represents Flemish Jews, sought to engage Eyckmans in dialogue.
The Forum pointed out that Belgian Jews do not influence Israeli policy. It also noted that there is a difference between being Jewish and having Israeli citizenship.
But Eyckmans did not respond to the Forum’s outreach and has not withdrawn his email, prompting legal action. Forum spokesman Hans Knoop told Joods Actueel that a complaint has been filed with the public prosecutor.
Nor has Eyckmans responded to media requests for comments.
Michael Freilich, a Jewish member of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives told Joods Actuel that Eyckmans’s boycott was illegal, discriminatory and based on “fake news.”
“This is disgusting discrimination and based on fake news. I hope this will not be without consequences. As a society, we cannot tolerate this,” Freilich said.
Approximately 42,000 Jews live in Belgium, the majority of whom live in Antwerp.
Roughly 500,000 Israelis are of Ukrainian descent, and Ukraine’s Jewish President, Volodymyr Zelenksy is widely admired. Israel has sent humanitarian aid and taken in 8,500 Jewish refugees since the invasion.
Israel joined in a UN General Assembly resolution that overwhelmingly condemned Russia’s invasion, and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tweeted a denunciation of Russia as murdered Ukrainians were found in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.
“It is impossible to remain indifferent in the face of the horrific images from the city of Bucha near Kiev, from after the Russian army left,” Lapid tweeted. “Intentionally harming a civilian population is a war crime and I strongly condemn it.”
Israel has also tried to play a mediating role between Moscow and Kyiv.
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