Four Jews shot dead in the lobby of a Jewish museum in downtown Brussels raises the bold reality of growing European anti-Semitism.
On Sunday, more than 1,000 people protested against the recent killings. With similar demonstrations of solidarity in Paris, the killings also attracted condemnation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and from Pope Francis, who was visiting Israel.
Jews and non-Jews were urged by the Brussels Jewish Community Centre to show “that we not allow ourselves to be intimidated by anti-Semitism.”
The crowd observed a moment of silence as it listened to Avraham Guigui, Brussels’ chief rabbi, recite the Kaddish.
The killings came about two weeks after the Anti-Defamation League released its poll, the Global 100 Index of Anti-Semitism, which reported that 27 percent of Belgian adults “harbored strong anti-Semitic views.”
The killings also raised the level of fear among European Jews, who watched with concern as right-wing political parties made gains in Sunday’s European and local elections.
Clearly there is justification for their fear.
“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,” (ADL) National Director Abraham H. Foxman said in a statement.
It’s one thing for governments to say they won’t tolerate the hate, as the Belgium government has done. It’s going to take more than talk to rein in those who carry anti-Semitism beyond stinging words to acts of murder.
Certainly the severe lessons Europeans learned in the 20th century should be more than enough to guide European leaders to accept nothing short of zero tolerance for anti-Semitism or hatred towards any religious or ethnic group.