Monday, November 30, 2015

Belgium: Jews hide their identity, consider new exodus

Via The Telegraph:
Mrs Dan, in common with others who spoke to the Telegraph, describes her now reflexive habits to avoid attention on the streets, including reluctantly covering her Star of David necklace.

Some families have removed the mezuzah, the box of parchment Hebrew verses affixed to the entrance of Jewish homes, from their front doors to avoid attention.

“I never thought I would have to hide a Jewish newspaper on the metro," said Mrs Dan. "When my grandson comes out of the school, he knows to put his kippah in his pocket. He asks me, why do they hate us? I say, oh, it’s a long story.”

Rabbi Avi Tawil, the director of the European Jewish Community Centre, recalls how, shortly after moving to Brussels 10 years ago, an admiring stranger asked the age of his baby son in his pram. “Allah willing, he will be dead soon,” the man remarked.

He reveals he is regularly sworn at and threatened when walking with his four children, and he has withdrawn his daughters from a swimming club following a threat to kidnap them.

“I grew up in Argentina and experienced some anti-Semitism, but compared to what my children go through in Europe in 2015, it is incomparable,” he said, speaking from his office in an unmarked building near the European Council’s headquarters, guarded since the Charlie Hebdo massacre by Belgian infantrymen.

He stresses his intense dislike of stereotypes, and praises the efforts of Muslim leaders to work with synagogues and isolate the extremists that are ruining their communities.

But he adds: “If I count my own experience, the insults and violent actions seem to come from people who curse me with Allahu Akhbar, or some Arabic insult.”

Many families, he says, are finding an instinct for "survival" trumps their idealistic hope that community relations will improve.

“We see people are targeted for being Jewish in the streets all the time," he said. "It is a war of ideas."
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