9 historians resign from Belgian Holocaust museum over plan to honor anti-Israel activist

(JTA) — Half of the scientific committee of Belgium’s national Holocaust museum resigned over the institution’s plan to host an event that was to honor a promoter of boycotts against Israel.

The resignation Tuesday of nine historians from the Kazerne Dossin memorial followed an outcry over its plan from December to host the awarding of a prize by the Pax Christi Catholic aid group to Brigitte Herremans, the Belga news agency reported. Herremans has said that Israel’s supporters inflate anti-Semitism to distract from its actions and called for the European Union to sanction both the country and its citizens when they enter European soil.

The plan to host the award ceremony was canceled amid protests by Belgian Jews. Kazerne Dossin, which at first said it was merely serving as a venue for Pax Christi rather than a co-organizer, did not explain the cancellation.

The controversy showed that “Kazerne Dossin, as a memorial site, cannot become a place where the current policies of the State of Israel are placed on the agenda,” the nine historians wrote in a joint statement.

Multiple Jewish groups complained that Kazerne Dossin, a former transit camp in Mechelen from which Belgian Jews and Romani were sent to concentration camps, was an inappropriate venue for honoring a campaigner against the Jewish state. Pax Christi was to confer on Herremans the title of “ambassador of peace.”

In 2017, Pax Christi called on the European Union to “suspend economic relations” with Israel until it “respects international law.”