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NOA Conference: Belgian Report Card


CEJI Director and Lead Researcher Robin Sclafani addresses the audience at the NOA Belgian Report Card Conference

On the 15th of June, Belgian policy-makers and policy-influencers gathered at the Royal Academy to consider the results of the newly-released NOA Belgian Report Card.  

Attendees considered both the successes, and areas of improvement, that the Report Card highlighted within Belgian policy and legislation. Overall, there is still much the Belgian government can and should do to combat antisemitism. Despite the country’s strong points on legislation addressing Holocaust denial and distortion, hate speech and hate crime, there are areas for major improvement such as the field of education.   

You can find the NOA Belgian Report Card here in English, here in French, and here in Dutch.

For photos from the conference, click here.

CEJI Director and Lead Researcher Robin Sclafani was interviewed on BX1 following the NOA Belgian Report Card Conference. In the interview, she discussed the launch of the NOA Belgian Report Card and the series of recommendations made by the report. The interview can be found here.

On Radio Judaica, B’nai B’rith Europe Director Hanna Kalmenson presented the NOA Project and the findings of the Belgian Report Card. The interview can be found here.

Below, the agenda for the day is available. In each speaker’s biography, a quote from the conference can also be found.

  • Moderator for the day: Pascale Falek, Policy Officer, European Commission, office of the EC Coordinator on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life
  • Alain Philippson, President of CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe

  • Robin Sclafani, Lead Researcher and Director of CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe
  • In cooperation with the Bridge Theatre Company

  • Caroline Désir, Minister of Education of Wallonia-Brussels Federation
  • Sarah Schlitz, Secretary of State for Gender Equality, Equal Opportunities and Diversity
  • Robin Sclafani, Lead Researcher and Director of CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe
  • In cooperation with the Bridge Theatre Company

  • Patrick Charlier, Co-Director of the Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities
  • Robin Sclafani, Lead Researcher and Director of CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe
  • In cooperation with the Bridge Theatre Company

  • In cooperation with the Union of Belgian Jewish Students: Sacha Guttman, Lina Nkoko, Moussia Garelik, Ariane Rubin Bzurovski
  • Nadine Iarchy, Forum der Joodse Organisaties

  • Baron Jacques Brotchi, Former and Honorary President of the Belgian Senate François De Smet, President DeFi
  • Rajae Maouane, Co-President Ecolo
  • Ahmed Laaouej, Head of the PS parliamentary group in the House of Representatives
  • François De Smet, President DeFi
  • Jan Deboutte, Former IHRA Delegate Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Closing remarks by Robin Sclafani, Lead Researcher and Director of CEJI

  • Performance by Blanche, Belgian Jewish singer and Eurovision representative

Speaker biographies:

Policy Officer, European Commission, office of the EC Coordinator on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life

Dr Falek works since 2020 as Policy Officer at the European Commission, DG Justice, in the Office of the European Coordinator for combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life, Katharina von Schnurbein. She is in charge of files related to education, research, Holocaust remembrance, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism, ritual slaughter and Jewish life. Before joining the Commission, she worked as Director of the Jewish Museum of Belgium. As research project manager at the Belgian State Archives, she co-published an archival source guide on Jewish life. She has a Master degree in Contemporary History (Université Libre de Bruxelles, 2003), a MSt in Jewish Studies (Oxford University, 2004), a MA in European Studies (College of Europe, Natolin, 2005), and a PhD in History and Civilization from the European University Institute (Florence, 2011).

President of CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe

‘We must stand together and speak with one voice. We are living in dangerous and fragile times: cohesion is key.’ – Alain Philippson, President of CEJI 

Baron Alain Philippson has served as the Chairperson of CEJI since 1993. He is a dedicated philanthropist who takes pride as a “supporter of talent”.

Through his generosity, his availability and his great humanism, Baron Alain Philippson has throughout his life been humbly devoted to philanthropic efforts in Belgium, Europe and beyond, including serving as a member of the board of directors of the Bernheim Foundation, which works in the fields of professional integration, civic integration and education; and as the former Chairman of the Board of Vocatio, an organization whose main objective is to support, both morally and materially, young laureates with a life project in tune with a world undergoing profound change. With his wife, he funded The Marie and Alain Philippson Chair of Global Entrepreneurship in the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management, multiple projects supporting women economic empowerment in French-speaking Africa as well as the Pacte d’Excellence for reform in the Wallonia-Brussels education system.

The Philippson family has a long history of service to Belgium and its Jewish communities, with his great-grandfather, grandfather and his father serving as President of the Consistoire. 

Often described as a man of consensus, Alain Philippson is the great-grandson of Franz Philippson, who in 1871 founded what was to become Bank Degroof and later Degroof Petercam, where Alain was chairman until his retirement.  

Lead Researcher and Director of CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe

‘We wanted to marry education, culture and security, rather than compete with each other for resources. We wanted to strengthen the new emergence of policies to prevent and counter antisemitism, in a complementary process to the much-welcomed momentum in anti-racism and anti-discrimination policies, more broadly speaking. This is what we aim to do with the National Report Card.’ – Robin Sclafani, Lead Researcher and Director of CEJI 

Ms. Robin Sclafani is the Director of Brussels-based CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe. Robin has over 30 years’ experience in developing and delivering anti-bias training programmes for various target groups. Under Robin’s leadership, CEJI coordinates a number of projects including the two-times award-winning anti-bias programme BelieforamaTM ; Facing Facts which brings online and offline training on hate crime and hate speech through a broad European network of civil society organisations and law enforcement agencies; and NOA, a project that brings together major European Jewish networks to support holistic national policy development and implementation.  

With an MA in Conflict Resolution, Robin uses training and facilitation as methods for transforming social conflict into opportunities for social cohesion. Originally from New York City, Robin moved to Brussels in 1998 as a Fulbright Scholar to the European Commission to conduct a study on anti-racism work with youth in the EU.  

Desi Krsteva

Desi Krsteva is a Brussels-based actress, improviser and coach. She graduated from the Theatre Department of New Bulgarian University in Sofia, Bulgaria. Desi is experienced in many different acting techniques such as Stanislavski’s System,

Meisner, Laban, Practical Aesthetics, the Chekhov Approach, Method Acting, the Brechtian Method, Meyerhold, Physical Theatre, Contemporary dance and theatre, as well as Directing in classical scripted theater and Experimental and Documentary theatre. She moved to Brussels in 2010, where she performs and teaches acting and improv in English, Dutch and French. Desi is part of the teachers’ team of Impro Brussels, has her own improv duo, called “The Sudden Knot” and is a founder of the BeArt cultural association.

Tim Myers

Tim Myers trained as an actor at the Royal Central School in London and worked in the UK and Europe for the next 25 years, performing in repertory, national tours of the UK, the Netherlands and Germany, films, television, radio and corporate films. He has lived in Brussels since 2009 and still acts regularly in both the professional and amateur context. (Besides his enthusiasm for The Bridge project, he is a keen supporter of Brussels’ amateur anglophone theatre scene, having performed or directed for all of the seven regular companies here.) His last television outing was in the BBC’s recent 6-part dramatization of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables

Therese Van Elst 

Therese Van Elst is an actress, stage manager and writer from the Chicagoland area, located in the United States. She received her theatrical and musical education through the College of Dupage of Glen Ellyn, Illinois and finished at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she received her degree in Theatre and Performance. Some of her works include, spending her summer as Lady Berkeley for the Bristol Renaissance Faire of Wisconsin, becoming Corin/Hymen for Eclectic Full Contact Theatre’s version of  Shakespeares’s As You Like It, and narrating and voicing characters for Eclectic’s radio serial The Shade. Therese is honored to take part in the NOA Conference.

Edward McMillan

Edward trained at the Guildford School of Acting in the UK. His credits include Singin’ In The Rain, Calamity Jane and Bugle Boy, the Glenn Miller musical, in which he also employed his saxophone skills in an onstage 20-piece big band. Edward has lived in Brussels since 2015 and is currently the Artistic Director of The Bridge Theatre.

The Bridge Theatre

The Bridge Theatre is a new cultural organization that is producing work in English. We use the international lingua franca to connect people through culture, by providing opportunities to engage with the performing arts. Through this we aim to respond to the need in Brussels for theatrical programming to better reflect the reality of this diverse and multilingual city. 

Our professional productions of modern plays explore contemporary issues of global relevance. Alongside these, our extensive workshops series give anyone the opportunity to experience the mental-health and social wellbeing benefits of active participation in the performing arts. We also provide training and partnership opportunities for businesses. 

You will be able to find us in central Brussels from September 2022.

Minister of Education of Wallonia-Brussels Federation

‘We need to give the right answers to antisemitic incidents, with a support mechanism for victims if necessary. We have worked strongly on harassment within schools, which can have a positive impact when tackling problematic behaviour. We need to work hard on this: it will require co-education and justice at school. All education systems should promote human rights.’ – Caroline Désir, Minister of Education of Wallonia-Brussels Federation 

Licenciée en droit à l’ULB et en droit social à la VUB, Caroline Désir a débuté sa carrière en tant qu’avocate en droit du travail avant de bifurquer rapidement vers la politique. De 2009 à 2019, elle siège comme députée au Parlement de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale et au Parlement de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (notamment au sein de la commission Éducation). De 2013 à 2019, Caroline Désir est également échevine à Ixelles (rénovation urbaine, logement, mobilité puis instruction publique). Elle est élue députée fédérale en mai 2019.

 Le 17 septembre 2019, Caroline Désir devient Ministre de l’Éducation en Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles. Conformément aux valeurs qu’elle défend depuis le début de sa carrière, elle consacre son énergie à la défense d’un enseignement plus juste, plus efficace et plus inclusif. C’est l’objectif premier du Pacte pour un Enseignement d’excellence, vaste réforme du système scolaire qui vise à améliorer la qualité de l’enseignement francophone.

Secretary of State for Gender Equality, Equal Opportunities and Diversity

‘It is important to highlight that we must fight against racism and antisemitism in all forms. We must fight it as citizens, when we hear remarks, and as decision makers, we need to take action also on a policy level.’ – Sarah Schlitz, Secretary of State for Gender Equality, Equal Opportunities and Diversity 

Sarah is the junior Minister (State Secretary) for Equal Opportunities, Gender Equality and Diversity in the first gender-equal Belgian federal government. She is also proud to be the first Secretary of State with this portfolio in the Belgian political history.

Prior to her appointment as the State Secretary, she served for 2 years as a member of the Belgian Federal Parliament working on women’s rights, mobility and climate as a member of the Green Party. Previous to that she worked as a project officer of the Inter-Environnement Wallonie, a Belgian environmental NGO.  From 2012 to 2019 she served as the city council councillor in Liège.

Co-Director of the Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities

‘We must work together, holistically, to tackle antisemitism in Belgium society. For that reason, we aim to publish a comprehensive report on the state of antisemitism in Belgium.’ – Patrick Charlier, Co-Director of the Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities (UNIA) 

Patrick Charlier holds a degree in law. He has previously worked for the Liga voor Mensenrechten (Human Rights League), first as legal adviser (1992-1996), and then as director (1996-2001). In 2001, he joined Unia, where he has held various positions: originally in the Department of Racism and the Migration Observatory, later as coordinator of the Department of Discrimination.  

‘We should determine ourselves, by ourselves. Our identity can benefit society, but we must be inclusive. We need a progressive, anti-racist, civil, society – one that fights against racism in all forms, including antisemitism.’ – Sacha Guttman, in cooperation with the Union of Belgian Jewish Students 

My name is Sacha Guttmann and I am currently co-president of the Union of Jewish Students of Belgium and a student of Political Science at the ULB. I studied successively at the Maimonides School, the Ganenou Athenaeum and the Joseph Bracops Athenaeum. 

In June 2019, I was elected to the presidency of the UEJB for the 2019-2021 term. After two full years, I was re-elected last summer for a new two-year term as co-president with Joanna Peczenik.

‘When people look at the colour of my skin, they don’t think I am a Jew. For me, Judaism means belonging. It is a common experience and a relationship with my deep roots. Judaism is my closest friend, and an extension of my family. I am deeply related to it, more than I am to my blackness.’ Lina Nkoko, in cooperation with the Union of Belgian Jewish Students 

Lina Nkoko, 25 years old, born from a Belgian Ashkenazi Jewish mother with Polish origins and a father from the Congo, who has been living in Belgium for 30 years. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and am currently studying digital arts. I have been a member of a Brussels-based Jewish and secular youth movement from the age of 7 to 21, including 3 years as a monitor training officer and guarantor of the movement’s educational framework.

‘If we are lucky, maybe we will manage not necessarily to love one another, but to at least respect one another.’ – Moussia Garelik, in cooperation with the Union of Belgian Jewish Students 

My name is Moussia Garelik. I am 20 years old. I am a third-year student at the ULB in human and human sciences. I am Jewish. I have always lived in Belgium. From my point of view, my Jewishness gives me access to an invaluable richness while leaving me the freedom to explore this part of my identity in my own way. This is another aspect that makes Jewishness so rich: the expression of Jewish identity is unique to each Jewish person and can evolve continuously.

It is also a security: no matter what happens or what people say, a Jewish person is Jewish at heart, and no one can ever take that away from him or her.

‘It is painful to think you have to hide a part of yourself – a part you love, a part that makes you who you are. Through exchange, we can learn from each other, be empathetic, and be more tolerant when it comes to each and everyone’s experiences.’ – Ariane Rubin Bzurovski, in cooperation with the Union of Belgian Jewish Students 

My name is Ariane Rubin, I am Belgian-Uruguayan, and I am a psychology assistant. I am currently working in a homework school in Saint Gilles, whose main mission is to welcome and support children from DASPA classes, i.e. newcomers. I am also doing a placement in primary school at Decroly, in the art/craft/woodwork workshop. On the side, I am training in all kinds of manual, culinary and artistic techniques in order to integrate them into my practice.

‘I think it is important for both Jewish and non-Jewish communities to reach out of their bubble, and their communities, and increase interaction between us. A bottom-up approach is the only way we can move forward, trust each other, and eliminate antisemitism.’ – Ethan Bergman, in cooperation with the Union of Belgian Jewish Students 

Ethan Gabriel Bergman is a Belgian-Israel Antwerp native and young Jewish activist. Having grown up in Jewish environments in Flanders, Ethan has experienced, witnessed and documented the nature of antisemitism in the region for the last decade. Moreover, he has studied political science and sociology at Maastricht University, where he was instrumental as an activist in the management and representation of Jewish students in the face of intimidations, ignorance and antisemitism among students. In the last year, he has implemented his activism whilst working under numerous pan-European movements and organizations such as the European Jewish Association as the EU Youth Affairs Officer, mainly dealing with education and the representation of Jewish students in W-European cities and universities.

Forum der Joodse Organisaties

‘No longer do Jewish people have to separate their Jewish lives from their public lives. Do not remain stuck in your own community. Mingle, whilst keeping your own identity. Be inclusive. Do not separate or isolate yourself, because as a Jew, you alone can overcome biases and prejudices in your community.’ – Nadine Iarchy, Forum der Joodse Organisaties 

Nadine was born in November 1946 into a Jewish traditional family. She joined the association for Jewish-Christian relations in Antwerp at the end of the 1970s. At the request of teachers, she started to explain about Judaism first to students, then to socio-cultural associations, further to the Antwerp police and the cadet school. Later, she joined the League of Jewish Women of Belgium which itself is a member of the International Council of Jewish Women, where the committee grew inter-religious, inter-cultural worldwide. In the course of all these years, she participated in a lot of dialogue days or evenings. In Flanders, in Brussels and abroad. 

Nadine is a board member of the Forum of Jewish Organizations, where human contacts with the non-Jewish world are very useful. She earned the Peace Woman award in 2018 for her role as a bridge builder and feminist. Her goals have remained the same over the years: promoting dialogue between people and communities. Nadine disapproves of any discrimination between fellow human beings because of skin color, religion, sexual orientation and gender.

Former and Honorary President of the Belgian Senate

‘I want to commend you all for your efforts, and for your commitment to an inclusive, open society based on fundamental human rights.’ – Baron Jacques Brochi, Former and Honorary President of the Belgian Senate 

Emeritus Professor at Free University of Brussels and Honorary Chairman of the department of Neurosurgery, Erasme Hospital, Brussels, Belgium that he founded in 1981.

Full Professor and Chairman until September 2007.

President of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS) 2005-2009.

Member and past president of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium.

350 scientific publications in international journals and medico/surgical textbooks.

Knighted by King Baudouin of Belgium in 1988 and Baron by King Albert of Belgium in 2007.

Senator of Belgium from 2004 to 2019 and Speaker of the Senate 2018-2019.

At present time, Honorary Speaker of the Senate of Belgium.

Co-President Ecolo

‘Antisemitism goes well beyond the Jewish community. It affects all of us, whether Jewish, LGBT, or otherwise. Whatever territory we are in, we need the same rights and opportunities to prosecute the perpetrators.’ – Rajae Maouane, Co-President Ecolo 

Rajae Maouane, Co-présidente d’Ecolo s’est très tôt impliquée dans différentes associations qui militent pour l’émancipation des jeunes, les droits des femmes et la lutte contre les discriminations. Fan de foot, elle se bat pour une société plus égalitaire, plus écologique et où la mixité n’est pas qu’un slogan.

Member of Belgian Senate and Leader of Mouvement Réformateur

‘Antisemitism must be prosecuted. Like speeding in a car, we should have sanctions in place that happen much faster than they currently are.’ – George-Louis Bouchez, Member of the Belgian Senate and Leader of Mouvement Réformateur

At the age of 20, he launched himself more fully into the political adventure by participating in his first election as a candidate on the municipal list in Mons. In 2010, he was 8th on the Senate list. Afterwards, he was elected by the MR members of the Mons section to be the head of the list for the 2012 communal elections. Thanks to the support of the people of Mons, who allowed him to get a personal score of 2550 votes, he became Alderman of Finance, Budget, Employment, Sustainable Development and Informatics of the city of doudou: a dream for a child of the region!

During the regional elections of 2014, Mr. Bouchez was a candidate for the first deputy because he knew how much his region needed a new breath, new ideas and dynamism. On November 17, 2014, he was appointed Walloon MP and of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation to replace Jacqueline Galant who became a federal minister, a position he held until April 2016 I was then appointed “General Delegate for animation and foresight” of the Mouvement Réformateur. In this position, he was in charge of organizing the debate in the local sections, carrying the ideas of the party in the media and working on new topics. 

In 2018, they composed and led the pluralist list “Mons en Mieux” to the communal elections in Mons. A large number of committed citizens who want change in their city joined them. The bet was successful. Mons en Mieux obtained almost 22% of the votes while the socialist list lost more than 15% of the votes compared to the results of the 2012 communal elections. They obtained 11 seats, with 8 elected under 35 years old, which is a score not seen for a list outside the PS since 1994. He also achieved the third highest score in terms of preference votes in the city (4,976 votes). 

On March 19, 2019, Georges-Louis Bouchez was appointed spokesperson for the election campaign of the Mouvement Réformateur.

During the federal elections of May 26, 2019, he was in fourth position on the federal list of the MR for the constituency of Hainaut and achieved 16,522 votes, which was the second best score in terms of preference votes. Following the elections, Mr. Bouchez became a co-opted senator of the Mouvement Réformateur and was sworn in on July 12, 2019. 

In early October 2019, he ran to succeed Charles Michel and was elected on November 28 2019, president of the Reform Movement with 62% of the votes. 

Deputy of the PS parliamentary group in the House of Representatives

‘Antisemitism is harmful to our social cohesion, like any form of racism or xenophobia, and it should be fought against as such. The NOA report shows we have some legal and judicial tools in Belgium, but the problem is using them. We must work on this.’ – Martin Casier, Deputy of the PS parliamentary group in the House of Representatives 

Martin Casier, né à Bruxelles le 3 février 1987, est un député au Parlement bruxellois et au Parlement de la Communauté française de Belgique. Il est également Conseiller communal à Watermael-Boitsfort. Il est détenteur d’un doctorat en astrophysique de la Vrije Universiteit Brussel et est astronome amateur.

President DeFi

‘It is important in our Belgian environment, where we used to be separated based on religious origins, to have more holistic religious education. If we all knew a little more about other religions, we would see the similarities in each other.’ – François De Smet, President DeFi

Docteur en philosophie de l’Université Libre de Bruxelles (2010); Ex-Directeur de Myria (Centre fédéral Migration); Elu député fédéral Défi aux élections fédérales du 26 mai 2019; elu président de DéFI le 1er décembre 2019. Auteur de plusieurs publications et films traitant des questions des droits de l’homme, une liste est disponible ici : https://francoisdesmet.blog/about/

Former IHRA Delegate Ministry of Foreign Affairs

‘The NOA Report shows that in our country, we have some very good actions, but that there is no general policy plan in order to combat antisemitism. This report, composed in a magnificent way, arrives at an excellent time.’ – Jan Deboutte, Former IHRA Delegate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

Mr. Jan Deboutte was ambassador of Belgium to Sweden and to India, with simultaneous accreditations to Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

At the Foreign Affairs Ministry he was in charge of the Directorate European Integration and the Directorate-general International Organisations.

Together with the Chancery of the Prime Minister he was in 2005 instrumental for the Belgian adhesion to the “Taskforce for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education,  Remembrance and Research” (ITF – later IHRA).

He was head of the Belgian delegation to ITF from 2005 to 2007 and to IHRA from 2016 to 2021.

In 2012-2013 he chaired the International Holocaust remembrance Alliance (IHRA) on behalf of Belgium.

Mr. Jan Deboutte is honorary ambassador of H.M. the King.

Belgian Jewish singer and Eurovision contestant

Her debut single City Lights has propelled Blanche straight to the top of the European charts with her sultry voice and atypical style. After several months in the studio, the young winner of the European border break awards will unveil her new deep compositions during her first ever European tour.


NOA – Networks Overcoming Antisemitism offers a pioneering approach to tackling the problem of rising antisemitism in Europe. With its unique partnership of major Jewish networks, the NOA Report Card benchmarks EU Member States’ policies across 10 policy areas and helps them to develop holistic national action plans to address and prevent antisemitism and foster Jewish life. For more information, see: www.noa-project.eu 

NOA Partners include:  

CEJI-A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe (Lead Partner) 

Association for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage and Culture  

B’nai B’rith Europe  

European Union of Jewish Students  

European Union of Progressive Judaism  

World Jewish Congress   


CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe stands with people of all backgrounds to promote a Europe of diversity and respect. A Jewish voice at the European level, our activities include delivering diversity education and enhancing interfaith and intercultural dialogue while advocating in the EU against antisemitism and discrimination of all kinds. 

For more information, see: www.ceji.org