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Antwerp hall cancels Jewish school’s booking over Gaza ‘genocide’

The cancellation “has strong echoes of the Nazi past,” stated Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chair of the European Jewish Association.

Monty, an art center, in Antwerp. Source: Google Street View.
Monty, an art center, in Antwerp. Source: Google Street View.

An art center that receives public funding in Antwerp, Belgium, apologized after canceling a rental to a Jewish school, citing what it called the “genocide” in Gaza.

“We reviewed your request internally and realized that we responded too quickly,” Monty Hall wrote back to the school, after initially accepting the booking, the European Jewish Press reported.

“Although we have not yet spoken out explicitly about the Palestinian cause, we look with horror at the genocide that is currently taking place in Gaza,” the art center wrote. “We also work closely with several Palestinian artists, who are also suffering from the occupation. For these reasons, we cannot currently respond to a rental request from an organization for which we see links with present-day Israel.”

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chair of the European Jewish Association, stated that new management was needed at the art center, which “was prepared to discriminate so brazenly and openly.”

“This space is wholly unfit for public funding. We can only imagine what would happen if this space refused access to any other minority. But for Jews all is permitted,” he added. “No, this cannot stand.”

“It is naked discrimination based on a conflict thousands of kilometers away on the most innocent of all, Jewish schoolchildren,” the rabbi said. “If it is allowed to stand, the message is simple: ‘Jews, you are second-class citizens and you are to be punished for events elsewhere.”

“It also has strong echoes of the Nazi past,” he said.

The European Jewish Press reported on Saturday that Lana Willems, director of Monty, told the Belgian news agency Belga that she “made a mistake” and apologized to the school.

“The current situation in Gaza is heating up spirits and discussions, as can be seen in universities in particular, and our organization is no exception,” she told the news agency. “In this context, I erroneously and too quickly established a link between the Jewish school and the Israeli government—with which we do not wish to cooperate, nor with the organizations affiliated to it.”

“I would like to apologize explicitly to those I have hurt with this email. I share the concerns expressed about the rise of antisemitism, racism and polarization in our society in general,” she added.

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