Belgium’s new poet laureate not happy I called him an antisemite. Too bad.
Last week, I reported that the new designated poet laureate of Belgium, whose pen name is Charles Ducal, is an antisemite, and I posted a couple of his poems to prove it. I introduced it with a story from the Antisemitism blog which saw the story in the Philosemitisme blog.
He wrote an email to the Philosemitisme blog, the Anti-Semitism blog and me but for some reason he didn’t bother to find out our email addresses; he sent them to an independent investigative reporter who wanted to find out their reactions on the articles and their contents and he forwarded it to me.
Here is the (auto-)translation of his (lawyer’s?) vaguely threatening email:
We demand the immediate cessation of the following accusations of anti-Semitism in relation to Charles Ducal and require immediate rectification of the coverage of Charles Ducal in:
– http://elderofziyon.blogspot.be/2014/01/new-poet-laureate-of-belgium-is.html .
Please find your claims about his alleged anti-Semitism below refuted by Charles Ducal (pseudonym of French Dumortier ) :
There is an article on the blog of “Elders of Zion” accusing me of anti-Semitism. It is further alleged that my moral outrage it exclusively on the Jews and for example I have never written anything about the atrocities of the Belgians in the Congo.
As you, consciously or unconsciously, create confusion between the concept of “criticism of Israeli policy (anti- Zionism)” and ” hatred of Jews ( anti-Semitism )” , for clarity , the following :
* I, like any reasonable person , make a distinction between Jew , Israeli and Zionist. I first of all have respect for the Jewish religion and great respect for what Jewish people in all times have performed in the fields of science, art and philosophy around the world. Since I come from a Flemish family who risked their lives to hide Jewish children from the Nazis, I have a deep sense of compassion for the Jews during the Holocaust. The Poetry Gazette No. 6 of 2012 has two poems of mine , entitled ” Somewhere in Poland ,” which unequivocally express this compassion. These poems will also be found in my collection to appear in March. Second, I cherish no hostile feelings towards the people of Israel and have never so much as a word has given rise to suspicion in that direction . Third, I’m an opponent of the Zionist policy of the Israeli government towards the Palestinian population , as described in dozens of well-documented books , such as ” A cry for justice ‘ Dries van Agt , former Prime Minister of the Netherlands and former ambassador to the European Union, Japan and the U.S.. On this basis, one may call me ” anti- Zionist” . I do not deny this point for those who strongly disagree with me, but the label “anti-Semite ” is an expression of bad faith, defamation and slander .
• The poetry cycle “After Auschwitz ” was written based on “The ethnic cleansing of Palestine” , a book written by an Israeli historian Ilan Pappe based on Israeli military archives. It is your right to disagree, as it is also my right in that study contributes to see in the uncovering of the historical reality .
• In 2010, appeared in Knack a series by my hand on the occasion of 50 years of Congolese independence, a series of the colonization and plundering of the Congo and the state of war today. These poems are included in my new collection to appear in March . I furthermore have poems written in response to the Iraq war and injustice in the world (poverty , war , etc. ) in general , as can be verified in my anthology published in 2012 . The argument that I let my moral outrage only for ‘hatred of the Jews ‘ is this adequately refuted, I suppose.
• Finally, I would like to ask you whether you fully realize the severity of your accusation directed at me and the moral damage caused by the dissemination through social media. To turn the tragedy of the Jews under the Nazis into an instrument of cheap invective is hopefully for you due to a flurry of levity and not the result of a vulgar opportunism , which every righteous man ( Jew and non – Jew ) would be ashamed of.
I do not speak Flemish, so I will take him at his word that he has written against colonization of the Congo. This was in the part that I quoted from the Philosemitisme blog.
However, I stand behind the parts that I wrote.
Ducal says that he took his information about Israel from Ilan Pappe, the notoriously fraudulent “historian,” Be that as it may, that does not excuse the form and words of his poems, which are by any sane definition antisemitic.
It is Ducal, not me, who takes the Holocaust and cheapens it in his attempt to tarnish today’s Jews of Israel.
The poems I quoted were not obviously equating today’s Israeli Jews with Nazis (except for the first “After Auschwitz” poem which is a Biblical quote, implying that Israel’s justification for ethnic cleansing is Biblical, and the title is meant to be an ironic counterpoint to the Holocaust.)
Here are two of the other “After Auschwitz” poems:
AFTER AUSCHWITZ 1
When I heard that the house I called mine
was stolen, I asked the authorities who
the owner was. They said: “Your head is full of ash,
you’re still weak, you know nothing of the fight.”
When I heard that the owner was alive
and carried the key in his pocket, I sent
the locksmith away. He went to the authorities.
Then the locks were changed.
On memorial days, called to remembrance
my fellow downtrodden roamed in my head.
Beneath the ash, the issue smoldered, unsaid.
But the owner never came. It slowly went dead.
AFTER AUSCHWITZ 2
Even Auschwitz was nothing special, of course.
Many survivors came to this place,
a little despised but usable, and
received a monument to retrieve
from history the transportation to the camps
and to form the grindstone of a nation.
It was the horror of all ages, of course,
but as such became exclusive, ownership
of pain transformed into ownership of land.
Who lived in this street, in this house?
Who drew water from this well?
Who sold his goods at this market?
Who, about Auschwitz, could have any doubt?
To compare Jews in Israel to Nazis is antisemitic, period.
To misrepresent the idea of “Chosen People” as if Jews torment others using that as an excuse, is antisemitic.
To misrepresent Jewish scriptures as if it is used as justification for a fictional ethnic cleansing today is antisemitic.
This is exactly what Ducal does, in the most disgusting and sickening way.
Ducal is worse than Ilan Pappe. Pappe only lies; Ducal turns slander against Jews into art.
I am quite sensitive to the differences between anti-Zionism and antisemitism. This poetry isn’t a dispassionate criticism of Israel – it is criticism of Israel whose entire power rests on attacking Jews, attacking Jewish symbols and making obscene comparisons to Jewish suffering. Ducal is claiming that Jews are using both the Holocaust and the Torah to justify the crimes that he reads in Pappe’s novels and he sneeringly mentions “chosenness” and “Auschwitz” and Jewish suffering throughout the ages in order to evoke the exact same trite and perverted moral equation that other Jew-haters use: “Jews are doing to Arabs what Nazis did to Jews.”
That is antisemitism.
I think that it is reasonable to call someone who writes such nauseating anti-Jewish propaganda an antisemite, despite his statements of sympathy for dead and suffering Jews of the Holocaust. It is easy to feel sorry for the dead and the survivors – Ducal seems to want credit for that. He claims that his writing of a poem (that I have not read) sympathetic to Holocaust victims should inoculate him from accusations of antisemitism. What he doesn’t get – or he is purposefully ignoring – is that his poems that equate the Holocaust with the events of 1948 means he doesn’t know the first thing about the Holocaust and he is equally ignorant about the “Nakba.”
Denying the Jewish people the right of self determination is also antisemitic. And so is misrepresenting Israel’s history by claiming that Jews used the Holocaust to become “exclusive owners” of Israel. The number of lies and misrepresentations in these poems is huge, and all of them – by sheer coincidence, I suppose – make Jews look like hypocrites and monsters. Imagine that.
These poems of his should be exposed. If he is fine with what they say, well, all I’m doing is giving people the opportunity to read them for themselves and make their own decisions.
I believe that the antisemitism is clear and I have no problem saying so.