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The event, which had been planned for October 18, was an initiation ceremony for students of the university’s philosophy and literature faculty. Themed around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the pamphlet of the ceremony warned the students seeking to be initiated, whom the invitation called “little Palestinians,” to “watch out for the big, mean Jew and to settle in safely and happily, if possible.”
The university’s rector, Albert Corhay, condemned the event and demanded it be cancelled and that organizers publicly apologize. The university, he said in a statement, “cannot accept this insult in the form of a folkloric activity. There can be no question of hiding behind satire or humor. The nature of this activity is simply ignominious.”
On Friday, faculty from the university told the Belga news agency they have set up the team for sensitizing students to ethnic issues.
In a statement issued on October 24, the committee responsible for planning the student event distanced itself from any intention to express anti-Semitic sentiments and condemned anti-Semitism. The rector and the union of Jewish Students of Belgium also signed the statement.