Belgian Jews Blame Rampant Anti-Semitism for Shooting Attack
Locals say that the attack, rather than a shock, is the direct outcome of growing tolerance for anti-Semitism in Belgium.
"Anti-Semitism has grown. We see it on TV, in the media and in our newspapers," Betty Dan, director of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in Belgium, told Walla! News Sunday.
"It is always against Israel and Jews," she lamented. "All the articles we see about what is happening in this country [to us] are always negative."
"All the politicians now say this is a tragedy, but we are not naive," she continued, stating that politicians "have not done anything" to stop anti-Semitism.
"We feel that our children have no future in Europe," she said. "It's not like 20 years ago. There is always security around us. You cannot go out with a yarmulke or a Star of David freely. All these things were in the past."
Anti-Semitism: a European phenomenon?
Dan's comments echo the sentiments of several Jewish leaders - each of whom fiercely condemned anti-Semitism in Europe in the wake of the attack.
Joel Rubinfeld, head of Belgium's Anti-Semitism League, told AFP shortly after the attack that it was "clearly a terrorist act" and condemned the "climate of hate."
European Jewish Council (EJC) President Dr. Moshe Cantor agreed.
"While we don’t not yet have full information regarding the background to this attack, we are acutely aware of the permanent threat to Jewish targets in Belgium and across the whole of Europe," Cantor stated Saturday night. "European governments must send out a clear message of zero tolerance towards any manifestation of anti-Semitism."
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released an official statement condemning the attack as a "tragic reminder of the frightening atmosphere for Jews in parts of Europe" Saturday night - and urging the international community to stop anti-Semitism as a uniquely European phenomenon.
"We know that while the overall number of recorded anti-Semitic attacks in parts of Europe where reliable statistics are available may have gone down in the past year, at the same time the number of violent incidents against Jews has actually increased," ADL National Director Abraham Foxman stated.
"The rise in Europe of openly anti-Semitic political parties, the proliferation of clearly anti-Semitic expressions on social media platforms and the disturbingly high levels of anti-Semitic attitudes in many places in Europe contribute to a witches’ brew of hate in which those who are inclined to engage in violence against Jews can find encouragement."
The Brussels shooting attack surfaces on the eve of EU parliamentary elections, which political analysts have warned is rife with potential for the far-right and extremist parties.
Rabbi Avraham Gigi, community Rabbi in Brussels, stated that the timing shows just how important the elections could be in actualizing more anti-Semitic views in Europe.
"Anti-Semitism is growing throughout Europe, politicians are growing more and more extreme," he stated, in a special interview Sunday with Arutz Sheva. "I am now afraid that extremists will gain ground in the European elections [ . . .] even if they are a minority, if they are important enough, they can influence European laws to promote more anti-Semitism."
The shooting also occurs just weeks after the ADL released shocking statistics proving that over one billion people - or 26% of the world's population - holds anti-Semitic views.