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#184913 - Sat Jul 12 2003 06:45 PM EU to change name
flem-ish Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: Thu Oct 11 2001
Posts: 319
Loc: Belgium
The first decision during the first cabinet meeting of the newly formed Belgian government was indeed to abolish the existing genocide law.
The notorious law now has been reduced to a law concerning Belgians being killed by other Belgians.( Hope this is not a prelude to a Flemish-Walloon internecine war...)
Anyone who was familiar with the real opinions of the Belgian
population could not have expected anything different.
As I predicted, the party that was most stubborn in trying to maintain that law , paid heavily for that blunder in the last elections.
It not only disappeared from the Government, it even disappeared from Parliament.
As the odds for an inter-Belgian internecine war still seem
rather small, you can say that the genocide-law is now dead and buried.
When I last heard a Belgian politician mutter anything about the matter..it was that Belgium of course still adheres to
the principles of the " International Court of the Hague", but does not want to go beyond those.
He added that if Fidel Castro can visit the United Nations in New York without being arrested by the F.B.I., then there is no reason for Belgium to try to be "more strict".
Only....in the typical Belgian surrealistic way...the politician who was most linked to the whole affair...but who secretly was also most embarrassed by it..was re-appointed as Foreign Secretary.
And no, indeed this has nothing to do with normal logics; this is just the logics of the Flemish-Walloon balance of power. And to manage to understand the subtleties of such Belgian situations, even a decade of living among the natives
may be insufficient.

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#184914 - Sun Jul 13 2003 04:15 AM Re: EU to change name
snm Offline
Mainstay

Registered: Thu Jan 30 2003
Posts: 901
Loc: Israel
Flem-ish? Where've you been? We missed you!

Just a question: since the law has been revoked, does that mean that complaints that have already been filed are also void?

Now if the Belgian government will just do something about that disgusting "ad campaign" with the bleeding citrus fruit then I can stop boycotting Belgian chocolates...
(No, I'm not really boycotting Belgian chocolates, I never ate them anyway).
_________________________
"Talk is cheap, arms are not"- Victor Davis Hanson

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#184915 - Sun Jul 13 2003 03:01 PM Re: EU to change name
flem-ish Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: Thu Oct 11 2001
Posts: 319
Loc: Belgium
Well I myself have not heard of a bleeding citrus fruit ad campaign.
Sounds more like some NGO action to me than a Belgian government initiative.
As to the genocide law : what I heard on the radio was quite clear, the old law is no longer valid. And I don't think any court can pass a sentence based on a law that's no longer valid.
As to my 'relative inactivity' here: I happen to be involved in time-absorbing research concerning outdated ......war crimes.(No irony intended).
More specifically the case of a British seaman executed by the Germans here in Bruges in 1916. After the war the British tried to bring the responsible German commanding officer to court. Partially because of lack of American interest in such special post-war criminal procedures, all that happened was the creation of the so-called Leipzig War Tribunal in which Germans had to judge Germans.Out of some 10,000 indictments only some twelve made it to the court. In the case of "my" seaman, the German commanding officer (von...Schroeder!) was not prosecuted. Hitler later named a street in Berlin after him. The poor British merchant ship's captain, who had been condemned to death for supposed attempt to ram an attacking submarine, got a nice plaque in Liverpool Street Station. The plaque that he got in Belgium later disappeared. A friend of mine found it back, and that was what started off our research into the case.
After many months of research I am now quite convinced that the execution was a major blunder on the part of the Germans, but the legal case is not so simple.
The British were trying to apply old rules of war at sea to a situation with new technology. Normally when you "captured" an enemy merchant ship, you had to take the crew and the passengers on board before you sank your target. But this was hardly possible when submarines were the captors.
Moreover if submarines waited too long before opening fire, they risked being attacked themselves.
To prevent such ramming attempts,"U-Boot" captains began to ignore the rules and opened fire immediately.
The merchant ship's captains began to behave as "participants in the war" too and the Lord Admiral Sir Winston Churchill initiated the use of decoy-ships.
In the eyes of the Germans their submarine captains were heroes who were attacked by "cowardly franc-tireurs".
In the eyes of the British it was their merchant ship captains who were the heroes.
Both nations kept accusing each other of committing war crimes. But who was to blame?
To some extent there was no law that covered the situation
created by the new technology.
Though I have to admit that few wars, if any, are fought 'by the book', a correct and up-to-date definition of "war-crimes", terrorism, rogue states, would in my opinion be somewhat helpful.
And I am sure that if it were adhered to by the majority of the international community, it might at least offer some semblance of protection to individuals caught in a war-situation.

P.S. In today's hot weather I had a fine mojito made with
excellent limes. Possibly from the Middle-East. Should I have qualms?

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#184916 - Sun Jul 13 2003 04:23 PM Re: EU to change name
snm Offline
Mainstay

Registered: Thu Jan 30 2003
Posts: 901
Loc: Israel
Quote:

P.S. In today's hot weather I had a fine mojito made with
excellent limes. Possibly from the Middle-East. Should I have qualms?




No you shouldn't
The problem is that it seems some of your countrymen (I think they're called the Belgian-Palestinian Association, and I know you don't share their views) have seen fit to produce an ad campaign advocating a boycott of Israeli products. The objections most people have are less to the boycott and more to the nature of the ad: it shows a citrus fruit (supposedly Israeli) dripping blood (supposedly Palestinian), and reeks of an updated blood libel. The Belgian government refused to do anything about it. In response someone produced a version showing Belgian chocolates dripping blood, but it only ever appeared online.
_________________________
"Talk is cheap, arms are not"- Victor Davis Hanson

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#184917 - Mon Jul 14 2003 01:50 AM Re: EU to change name
flem-ish Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: Thu Oct 11 2001
Posts: 319
Loc: Belgium
May be somebody should start a campaign in which you see a suicide-bomber making victims in an Israeli street and right across it the old slogan:
" Bombing for peace is like f***ing for virginity?"
Anyway it's a fact that because of immigration there are more and more Moroccons and Turks in our midst.
The usual strategy here is to win over those who accept democratic rules and to involve them in the ruling of the country.
One of the new ministers happens to be a Moroccon woman.
One of the new MPs even is a Turkish imam.
Unfortunately many of those "democratically-minded immigrants" (who were given Belgian nationality some time ago) are now considered as "traitors" by their fellow immigrants.
Just wondering what can be done about "minorities" expressing dissident opinions which most of the locals do not favour at all. Usually the authorities let this pass as being "their constitutional right to freedom of opinion.
"City-fathers" limit their interventions to cases in which pro-Palestinian groups set up demonstrations in such areas as the Antwerp diamond centre, and when they feel the "Middle East problems" are being imported here by those minorities.
One of the problems is that when you combat those Arab minorities you often end up by getting mixed up with the anti-Arab "Vlaamse Blok" who now are very anti-Moroccon, and even anti-Turkish but whose "political fathers" were no others than the extreme right groups advocating collaboration
with anti-Jewish nazi- Germany.
As the Belgian authorities know that in strength of numbers
the "Vlaamse Blok" is much more of a real threat they tend to overlook the excesses on the other side of the political spectrum.
In the Belgian public opinion there definitely is not the faintest willingness to boycot Israeli products. There is a real fear however that the country is being taken over by "those foreigners". In some areas of our bigger cities "they" begin to be a state in the state. The Brussels metro has become unsafe at certain hours of the day because of Moroccon youngsters combining hooliganism, petty crime and "political agitation",mainly because they are unemployed, unliked and unwanted.
The EU is not yet the Union of European Emirates but there is clearly a growing problem.
Unfortunately you cannot solve it by sending in the tanks. It's more like fighting a Fifth Column.
The attempts to obtain "peace in the Middle East" is certainly motivated to a large extent by the fear of European politicians that the "conflict" may spill over into the streets of our own cities.
Soccer-matches between the Belgian national team and the Moroccon or Turkish teams have already led to noisy "demonstrations" in Ghent, Antwerp, etc.
These days "the Middle East is everywhere"...

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#184918 - Mon Jul 14 2003 01:46 PM Re: EU to change name
flem-ish Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: Thu Oct 11 2001
Posts: 319
Loc: Belgium
More information on Magasins du Monde-Oxfam can be found at www.madeindignity.be/public/en/08.htm
Looks as if another group of "humanitarians" has gone political.
I know that those people try hard to do a good job in many ways and are working tenaciously to bridge the gap between autochtones and allochtones in Belgium and in Europe, but I do regret that they don't refrain from taking sides in a complex issue such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
To some extent it feels to me a little similar to the donations by some Irish Americans to the IRA. They believed they were helping the "Irish cause".
As far as I know this organisation belongs to a wider group called "European Fair Trade Organisation", but I think they are the only ones to have this ad campaign.
They are not specifically Belgian. Similar organisations (and shops) are found in France, the Netherlands, etc.
Being critical of IsraŽl's policies only makes sense if you also dare to be critical of the "other side" , and this cartoon certainly does not do justice to the Israeli side.
In my opinion such cartoons may work as a boomerang . They do discredit those that reduce the conflict to a simplistic goodies-baddies opposition.
Not a good way to create a more just and more peaceful world as Oxfam is offciallys triving for.
Yet, am I wrong in believing that also Likud and Israel's
Labour party are often very unjust in their ways of (mis)representing each other? And can a state forbid groups of individuals to express "unjust" and "incorrect" opinions?
Best answer to disinformation is correct information.
This campaign looks like a futile attempt by fanatic masochists to revive an earlier anti-South Africa campaign. Sunkist now being replaced by Jaffa.
As far as I have noticed it's only the very young idealistic builders of "castles in Spain" that will deny themselves a good quality fruit because it was produced in a country that did try to make peace with a murderous enemy.
I would never want my choice between a Carmel wine or a French Chardonnay wine to be determined by whether Sharon or Chirac are my political buddies. There must be hundreds of other and better ways to express your political views than by a silly boycot.
It just increases the polarisation.
'Dost thou think, because thou art politically "virtuous", there shall be no more Tel Azra Wines, Tekoa Mushrooms, Shamir Salads, Adanim Tea in this country ?'.
If I must believe the oxy67.zaup.org/boy.html site not even any "carnations,helianthus,gypsophila,and roses with long or short stalks" can be imported any more.
People organising such boycots must be bad cooks and inveterate sourpusses.


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