Brussels minister’s tolerance adviser resigns after calling Israel Islamic State’s twin
JTA, Sep 6 2016
A Belgian Muslim official who compared Israel to Nazi Germany and the Islamic State is no longer employed as a minister’s adviser on tolerance. Youssef Kobo, the adviser on diversity for the minister in charge of equal opportunity in the regional government of Brussels, offered to resign after finding he could no longer fulfill his duties, a ministry spokesperson told the HLN news website Monday. Last month, Kobo apologized for his vitriol against Israel, which he said was a modern Nazi Germany and “an identical twin” of the Islamic State terrorist group. He said he was “young and stupid” when he wrote the Facebook posts in 2014, which he said he “regrets,” the La Capitale daily reported. The newspaper had contacted Kobo, 28, following criticism by the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism. However, in recent days Belgian media discovered earlier tweets, in which he proposed to slaughter activists working to prevent the ritual slaughter of animals. In what he later dismissed as an inappropriate joke, he wrote:
What if we compromise on slaughtering Gaia-activists instead of sheep?
Kobo had referenced the Islamic State in posting a caricature of Israel cutting the throat of the Gaza Strip, where Israel in the summer of 2014 carried out strikes against the Hamas terrorist group. Kobo said of a video of Israeli troops: “21st century Nazis.” Kobo told La Capitale that he was “very emotional” following the strikes in Gaza, which followed rocket fire by Hamas on Israel. He works for a minister in the government of one of the three autonomous regions that make up the federal kingdom of Belgium. Bart de Wever, the mayor of Antwerp, which is the capital of Belgium’s Flemish Region, in July told the Joods Actueel Jewish monthly he finds Kobo’s appointment “troubling” also because Kobo, according to de Wever, recently published a tweet about the shooting of police officers in Pindostan in which he wrote “a shot for a shot.” De Wever said it means Kobo justifies the shootings as retribution for perceived police brutality, especially against blacks. Joel Rubinfeld, the president of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, said Kobo’s statements make him unfit to advise on tolerance and especially on anti-Semitism. Rubinfeld told La Capitale:
He can’t be both fireman and fire starter.
Rubinfeld noted that Israel is connected to the phenomenon often called “new anti-Semitism,” in which anti-Israel sentiment becomes a veil for anti-Semitism. In France, Belgium and the Netherlands, most anti-Semitic assaults are by people with a Muslim background, watchdogs in those countries have said. Echoing the position of French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Rubinfeld said:
Anti-Zionism is but modern anti-Semitism, where hatred for the Jewish state substitutes hatred of the Jew.