Mayor of Leuven refuses to meet Netanyahu

Left: Tobback, right: Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's former and probably future prime minister, arrived in Belgium last Thursday for a private visit. On his way back from the United States, where he talked with Dick Cheney and speeched at New York University, Netanyahu stayed at the castle of the Merode family in Westerlo, 50 kilometers outside Brussels. On Saturday and Sunday he visited the Flemish medieval cities of Leuven, Ghent and Brugge (Bruges).

Kristof Debecker, a reporter for the newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, asked the mayor of Leuven if he had considered an official welcome for Netanyahu. Here's what mayor Louis Tobback, a socialist, replied:
Personally, I'm not thrilled at all by this Netanyahu. Receiving him at the city hall is out of the question. Even if he would offer me a glass of beer at a Leuven terrace cafe, I would diplomatically but firmly refuse. Netanyahu is a reactionary right winger. [To his secretary:] When the request comes in, tell him that Tobback's agenda is fully booked for the rest of the week.

The mayor of Leuven is notorious for his provocative language. In 1985 Tobback was the leader of the opposition against the deployment of 48 medium-range cruise missiles in Belgium. A few years later he threatened to throw himself on the tracks of the TGV (high speed train) if its trajectory would pass near a highway in Leuven. The TGV track was built, but Tobback did not move.

(hat tip: Tobback picture copyright Pieter Baert)





To be honnest I think most of the reactions here are missing the point. They read a newsbulletin about Louis Tobback and immediately everyone gets off-topic showing their own political frustration. Could you for once leave out the typical clichés like linking democratic left wing to communism...

You all seem very negative but regardless of the doom and incompetence you connect Tobback with he's one of the most succesful mayors in Belgium. Not alone has he been reelected with ease but his main opponents came nowhere near his amount of votes, leading me to think Leuven's population is more than happy with him as a mayor. Do the people reacting here on the bulletin actually live in Leuven? Or are they just students there? I hear complaining about the speed limit on the ring of leuven and how bloody awfull that is (the horror only 50km/h) but that traffic accidents on the traject going down steeply they forget to mention. And as for the camera's, if everyone would behave there would be no need for camera's.

Another thing I never heard here is that students themselves cause most of the problems in the city. Nightly rows, stolen bicycles, vandalism. And offcourse not every student acts this way but it is an existing nuisance every day. Tobback listened to the complaints of the inhabitants and did something about it, and believe it or not the measures he took had a great effect and apparently the people of Leuven appreciate that. So before complaining to fast you might ask yourself who's to blame for some of the strict measures.

That doesn't mean I agree with everything Louis Tobback does. Especially the closing hour he was considering would have been a terrible mistake. But what counts in the end is that Leuven has made alot of progress the past decade and most of that period has been lead by Tobback. To call him incompetent because of what he said once in 1985 is a bit cheap.

About Netanyahu: he has been part of the Israelian secret service. He also executed people without a trial, as counterreaction for the terrorist attacks in Munich. Meeting with him would also be taking sides in the Palestina-Israel conflict. There are probably alot of Western leaders right now who wouldn't shake Netanyahu's hand.

Also for everyone making a big deal out of this refusal of Tobback to maybe meet with Netanyahu: if you don't like Tobback would you shake his hand and treat him like a vip in your house? If not you're being hypocrit because you demand Tobback to do so.




@Udo: the problem is, all those creative little minds don't even get the slightest chance for a vote :). Leave alone a debate.




louis tobback or not tobback.
Typisch rode reactie van de god van Leuven.Indien het een vrijheidstrijder zou zijn dan zou l.t. hem zeker ontvangen.
Eigenlijk een schande voor de stad die de grote universiteit in huis heeft. (maar misschien zitten er daar ook een aantal die zo verlicht denken als hij)




Rick, I suggest if you want people to take you serious, you start with doing what this place is for: discussing and argumenting.

Any "educated" man or woman knows humour is a completely personal thing. What I find funny - and you might not - has absolutely nothing to do with good or bad taste.

What I said does indeed explain a whole lot about that. But that's the point, now, isn't it? Why should/would I say things that don't reflect the way I feel about certain things? :).

Yes. They probably did get that kilo from guys like Hoxha. Again: you're completely making my point :). If you want to make all the stingy wasps go away, you take away the nest, you certainly don't go on and kill every single wasp with an atom bomb, right?

You did take the time to re-read your post. Congrats. Then again, not using many words makes the chance for a typo rather small. I think I've proben my English to be at a sufficient level to not be trolling about that kind of bollocks :).

Having that cleared out, as for my previous post: do you actually have anything meaningful to say about that?




What? A Volkswagen Beatle hanging on a house being photografed by tourist... What the hell are you talking about?




"I took the time to spell 'humour' correctly."

Why do you say that?





To pretend that Chavez has a sense of humour is a lack of education and good taste...

And, as you said: "Rather disturbing if you ask me: a left-wing party attacking a rather like-minded group of people..."
explains a whole lot about the way you conceive our democracy and the duty of a mayor in this democracy.

Keep Leuven sparkling.
And by the way: where did they get 1 kilo (KILO) of spliff? From guys like Hoxha perhaps...

I sincerely do apologize for having misspelled your nickname. On the other hand, I took the time to spell 'humour' correctly.

Whishing you a successful career at K.U.L.




Sigh. First of all: I have no interest in that particular organisation whatsoever. You're also utterly missing the point here. Why all of the sudden now and not before the elections (as an idealist/integer person would, time/place shouldn't matter for these kind of actions). Why is there time and money to raid this house/these people and why is there no time, nor money for things that are a hell of a lot more important (I really don't need to give you any examples now, do I?).

Secondly, I'd rather support Hugo Chavez than George W. Bush. They're both dumb asses, I'll give you that. At least Chavez has a sense of humor.

Third, why go on and accuse me. Did you even read my post? Where does it say I am selling drugs. Where does it say that I might have even had the slightest contact with drugs in the past nineteen years of my life? You even misspelled my nickname. I'm impressed. Appearently remembering a five-letter name for only a bit more than a split of a second is too damn hard?

And, definitely last, but not least: why should everybody be "normal" according to you? If that would have been the case for the past millenia, how on earth would we have evolved to where we are now? Unless, of course, you see evolution as a bad thing :). Did you, for instance know that the persons in question here provided "free meals", "free shopping" and so forth? They had their own view on society. When was that marked a bad thing? And is thinking different more dangerous than letting someone like Hoxha run free? My god, they sure didn't go after him with that cavalry :).




@ Xaves:

You'd better sold your "bunch of laptops and computers, scanner and peripherals" and paid a rent, like 'normal' people do.

And don't forget to invoice the drugs you sold.

Xaves: join Chavez...




Tobback has struck me with incompetence the day I started my K.U.L-career. Elections are over and he's already started his opression-policy again. Only just today he's had a rather peaceful communist house raid (really, literally: 10 copcars, 5 special forces cars and a watercanon). The police were rather brutal (instructions, no doubt). They took a bunch of laptops and computers, destroyed a scanner and some other peripherals. Rather disturbing if you ask me: a left-wing party attacking a rather like-minded group of people who do nothing wrong but smoke a joint once in a while. All the police confiscated was 1 (ONE) kilo of spliff and about fifteen small plants.

How much more do you want to clean out a sparkling city like Leuven? Just the other day I saw a group of foreigners photographing the Volkswagen Beetle hanging on the outside of the house (which has been removed, by the way). I say fuck you mr. Tobback. Seriously. Go join George W.




OK, Cogito. Luckily I have enough hair in my ears to make that knot.




It is, knot that good in your ears, Joe.




Cogito: wow, I'm inmpressed. This is pure Nobelprize shit!




I have never understood how a normal human being can be so eagerly prepared to subject himself to a regime robbing him from virtually all of his freedoms, sovereighnty and human dignity, why some people so eagerly subject to slavery.

The answer to the question how some people dare to subject their fellow humans to their own will into slavery must be much alike the answer to the first question.




to whom it may concern, results of the municipal elections in Leuven:

38% for Tobback's party, 6,4% up.

for he's a jolly good fellow,
which nobody can deny!






According to a recent poll:
Leuven becomes more than ever "Louisville"!

Preference for future mayor:
Louis Tobback : 33%
Carl Devlies: 19%
(his son) Bruno Tobback: 8%
Patricia Ceysens: 8%

Good job, Louis. Way to go!




Please support the Pope!

Sign here:




Wow, check out these anonymous arguments above!!! So logic, so convincing... Tobback must be shivering now.
and yes yes, soon "it are elections" !!!




Well, soon it are elections, time for the citizens to oust the bulldog.

- Didn't keep his word in regards to the TGV
- Insults foreign state leaders (which is not just stupid, but also not all that legal in Belgium)
- Kills leuven with his extreme left-wing anti mobility measures (such as a 50km/h speed limit on most of the beltway around Leuven (2x2lanes devided highway as contstruction, with traffic lights at every intersection and even some overpasses and exchanges), and many more like impossible to park outside very expensive parking garages (strange for a leftwing rules goverment to allow private companies to basically have a monopoly on parking spaces))

Extremely unfriendly person. Time to get rid of him in politics.




Some years ago, he threathened to throw himself on the tracks of the TGV, because he was against it.
Now he wants that the TGV stops in Leuven.

He has installed the most sophisticated camerasystem in Belgium to keep an eye on what he called Chicago on the Dyle. 12 months later, the cameras are only put on if some-one phones to tell there is a problem.

Meneerke Louis wants also that, during the pre-election, every political party demands authorisation where and when they will do campaign. Very handy to know where your ennemies are hiding




Fantastic, we had a win-win scenario!


Björn Roose


Well, never mind about what Tobback wants or doesn't want. Netanyahu didn't care about meeting Tobback. I bet not even a tiny little grey hair on his head was thinking about that.




English please.


Outlaw Mike


Wat een ongelooflijke schijtlijster die Tobback. Die roden toch! Ik zit hier in Schotland op vakantie en heb een "The Independent" gekocht, zo een beetje De Morgen hier. Lang getwijfeld of ik er 70p aan zou geven. Binnenin een ronkende hulde aan Mao, inclusief een volledige pagina met geflatteerd Mao portret in gestyleerd rood. Mao, da's dus die knar die 70 miljoen Chinezen de dood ingejaagd heeft he. Of het nu hier is of in den Belgiek, sossen zijn overal hetzelfde. Maar een hand geven aan Netanyahu, dat niet. Wat een schoft.




Het is toch normaal vanwege Tobback dat hij geen Israeli de hand zou schudden. Waarom zou hij?
België heeft toch geen helicopters gekocht in Israël en de SP dus geen smeergeld gekregen zoals met Agusta

M. Louis Tobback, président du SP, M. Willy Claes, à l'époque des faits, ministre des affaires économiques, et M. Frank Vandenbroucke, ancien président du parti, vice-premier ministre et ministre des relations extérieures, rejettent toute implication dans l'affaire. Ils reconnaissent toutefois avoir été informés de l'éventualité d'un « cadeau » du constructeur italien. Une proposition à laquelle ils auraient opposé une fin de non-recevoir. Pourtant, le 22 mars, M. Frank Vandenbroucke donne sa démission. Et, quinze jours plus tard, la Chambre des représentants autorise la justice à entendre MM. Willy Claes et Louis Tobback à propos du marché des hélicoptères, et M. Guy Coëme à propos du volet Carapace.




@ Luc
"A few years later he threatened to throw himself on the tracks of the TGV (high speed train)... "

Shouldn't that read "... he promised to throw himself..."?




Joë, I forgot to translate my so called insult in English. I hope that the readers appreciate my southern Swahili. However, I was referring to you post of a picture of you where you look a little bit green.




@ Joë:
Quote: "So I assume this is a personal ad-hominem insult?"

No, this is what you call "integrity"...

Tobback's lack of integrity kept his body integral.And the TGV speeding.

Since when is rudeness "integrity"???




Typical leftish reasoning: if you do not share my opinion, you're not worthy of shaking my hand. Indifferent if we share experiences (as previous statesmen in more or less democratic countries).


Steven Tijpels


I used to live in this city. Around the corner the mayor's son, our present secretary of environmental affairs, lived. I remember what my landlord used to say about the garbage collection. If these collectors wouldn't take his bags (for something was in the bag incorrectly), he would -as most people in the block- keep them for another week and than place them in front of the mayor's son's house. There it was always picked up.




Oesters = Oysters?
Geeten = (according to wiki) Geeten sind Schöpflöffel mit welchen früher beim Bleichen das Bleichwasser auf dem ausgebreiteten Leinen verteilt wurde. Sie sind aus Holz, mit länglicher Schöpfform und einem langen Griff (Größe einer Schaufel).

So I assume this is a personal ad-hominem insult?




Of course! I even look like Tobback!!!




Respect for Louis Tobback! For his integrity. And for what he now does for the city of Leuven. This is a model mayor envied by many.

For people who are interested in more realistic pictures: here a picture of Cogito when he performs under his artist name "Ugoto":




What a magnificent and realistic picture of Tobback.
Here another one: