Car shop

Belgian car shop owner says he won’t serve Jews because of Israel’s stance on Ukraine

(JTA) — The owner of an auto repair shop in Belgium said he would not serve Jewish customers to protest Israel’s stance on Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The Forum of Jewish Organizations, a group representing Belgian Flemish-speaking Jews, said it would take legal action against Ludo Eyckmans, the owner of the store in Stabroek near Antwerp. Refusing a service to people because of their religion, race or sexual orientation is illegal in Belgium.

“As of today, our Jewish customers are no longer welcome for car maintenance or electronics troubleshooting,” Eyckmans wrote in an email he sent to Belgian media this week. latest, according to the Jewish group. He cited “Israel’s failure to acknowledge the war crimes” committed by the Russian military in Ukraine.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid claimed last week that “Russian forces had committed war crimes” in Ukraine, but Prime Minister Naftali Bennett did not rebuke Russia so harshly.

Israeli leaders are balancing complex interests in the conflict, including Russian involvement in neighboring Syria and the safety of Jews in both countries. This approach has allowed Bennett to play a role in seeking to broker talks between Russia and Ukraine, but it has also drawn criticism of Israel from those who would like to see him take a tougher stance.

The Forum of Jewish Organizations has written to Eyckmans to say that the Jews of Belgium do not determine Israeli foreign policy, a spokesman for the group, Hans Knoop, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Sunday. Eyckmans did not respond to requests for comment.

Several business owners and service providers have refused to serve the Jews of Belgium in recent years due to their perception of Israel’s actions.

In 2014, amid firefights between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, police removed a sign from a Belgian cafe saying Jews weren’t allowed following a complaint from a security body. monitoring of anti-Semitism.

Also that year, a Belgian doctor refused to treat a Jewish woman with a fractured rib, suggesting that she travel to Gaza to get rid of the pain.

Separately, a store employee in Antwerp allegedly refused to serve a Jewish customer “out of protest,” as he reportedly said in 2014.