Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

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.”

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.