Watchful Eye: Police patrol in Antwerp’s Jewish quarter as security is tightened following the Paris terror attacks and a raid on an Islamist terror cell in Belgium.

Are Belgium Public Schools Becoming 'Jew-Free Zones'?

A Belgian watchdog on anti-Semitism warned that the country’s public schools are becoming “Jew-free” zones because of harassment.

Joel Rubinfeld, president of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, sounded the alarm in an interview for the weekly Le Vif/L’Express, which was published earlier this month and which revealed that the only Jewish student of the Emile Bockstael high school left it following harassment and threats that she received from classmates after she posted a picture of an Israeli flag on Facebook.

The school “has become Judenfrei, there are no more Jewish students there,” Rubinfeld said, using the German-language term that the Nazis applied to locales which had been rendered “free of Jews.”

According to the weekly, the school’s last Jewish pupil, identified only as Sarah, posted a picture of herself holding the Belgian flag alongside the Israeli one in summer. She received 288 abusive comments, including threats, on Facebook, also by classmates and other pupils she did not know.

In September, she began attending one of the Brussels region’s three major Jewish schools but the harassments continued. On Sept. 10, she received a photo of a former classmate performing a Nazi salute, telling her she is missed.

Her parents, who have four children, pulled her two older brothers, who are twins, from public schools for similar reasons, the weekly reported. Only their eldest born was able to matriculate in one.

Last week, Menachem Margolin, an Israel-born rabbi who runs European Jewish Association lobby group in Brussels, said certain members of European Jewish communities should be permitted to carry firearms to defend themselves against anti-Semitic attacks like the Jan. 7 slaying of four at a kosher supermarket near Paris.

On Monday, the CCOJB umbrella group of French-speaking Belgian Jews distanced itself from his call, saying in a statement that it “can only be explained by ignorance and panic.”

Author

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Are Belgium Public Schools Becoming 'Jew-Free Zones'?

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close