Editor of prominent Belgian Jewish paper resigns in order to enter politics

Michael Freilich will be standing for the New Flemish Alliance party in May's elections


The editor-in-chief of a prominent Belgian Jewish newspaper has announced his resignation in order to enter politics.

Michael Freilich, editor of Joods Actueel, will be joining the right-wing New Flemish Alliance party, the largest in Belgium’s parliament.

In a statement published by his own paper, Mr Freilich, 38, said that he was “particularly concerned about immigration policy”, talking about how the country had let in “people with extremist views”.

“Do you find it normal that heavily armed soldiers still have to patrol near my children’s school?” Mr Freilich asked.

“We have already had an attack on the Jewish museum and afterwards at Zaventem [airport].”

He has been given the fifth place on the party’s list for the Antwerp region in elections due to take place in May, meaning his chances of gaining a seat are high – at the last elections in 2014, the Flemish nationalist party won eleven seats in Antwerp.

"As the editor-in-chief of Joods Actueel, I have followed politics and society closely for 12 years”, he said, going on to quote a regional proverb, “the best mates are on shore”, meaning “it is very easy to watch and comment from the lazy chair. The time was right to do something myself.

“I want to do everything I can to secure our future and keep extremism on the political agenda; that is why I have stepped into politics.”

In comments to other Belgian media, Mr Freilich said that his decision to join the N-VA was “obvious.

“My grandfather was a proud immigrant, who thought it was very important that the Jewish community spoke the language.

“I want to work in parliament mainly on issues such as migration, terror and extremism. I am going to fight like a real Flemish lion. "

Bart de Wever, mayor of Antwerp and chairman of the N-VA, told the Het Laatste Nieuws, a Dutch-language daily based in Belgium, that he had enjoyed a relationship with Mr Frielich for a number of years.

“In the past I have often talked to him about society and looked for certain solutions with him, but now the day has come when he has turned that into a concrete political commitment, although that was not easy”, Mr De Wever said.

"The Jewish community is important to our city and has long provided a mandate in our city council, but we would appreciate it if someone would go to the national parliament, and that would be Michael Freilich."

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