Belgian minister: ‘We have to combat anti-Semitism with all possible forces’
”We carry the Jewish community in our hearts and will never allow that you become the target of blind violence,” said Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Jan Jambon in an address to the gala dinner of the European Jewish Association (EJA) flagship annual conference in Brussels.
The two-day conference—attended by representatives of Jewish communities across Europe, in addition to diplomats, experts and journalists—principally deals with the issue of anti-Semitism in view of next year’s European elections.
“The Jewish community is part of our Flemish, Belgian and European community. We will not allow that our enemies attack part of our community,” added Jambon.
Recalling the “gruesome anti-Semitic attack” in the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27 that left 11 Jewish worshippers dead, the minister stressed that “this is not an isolated incident, but an indication of the general atmosphere within our societies where hostility and violence against the Jewish community still persist, and is advocated by extremists on both ends of the spectrum.”
“Prior and recent events keep forcing us to face the fact that anti-Semitism remains a sweeping threat that we have to combat with all possible forces,” he said, adding that “we have to make sure that the necessary security and protection is being guaranteed.”
He noted that in Belgium, despite the decline of the Islamic State terror organization, level 3 security remains in force in the Jewish neighborhoods in Brussels and Antwerp. “That means that we continue to provide the same military protection as we put in place since the attack on Charlie Hebdo in 2015.”
“It is important that you rest assured that we will keep doing this as long as necessary,” said Jambon. “This takes place in parallel of the financial efforts we contributed in order to provide enhanced structural protection measures with regard to Jewish facilities.”
The dinner was hosted by Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman and founder of the European Jewish Association; president of the Consistoire in France Joel Mergui; and Jambon. Several ambassadors in Brussels lit 11 candles in memory of the Jewish victims of the Pittsburgh shooting, perpetrated by a man who yelled “all Jews must die.”
In a reference to the debate on whether Jews should make alliances with extremist politicians, Joel Mergui told the audience: “There are people who like to cry with us our dead, but who are not with us when it concerns our traditions and religious practices. I don’t want to invite these people.”