As Antisemitism Rises, More of Belgium’s Jews Immigrate to Israel


Figures released by the Jewish Agency indicated an increase of 63 percent in the number of Belgian Jews who immigrated to Israel in 2010 when compared to the previous year: 250 compared to 152 in 2009. Key causes include increasingly open anti-Semitism in recent years, and the rise of violent attacks against members of the community, especially its highly-visible ultra-orthodox members.

Belgium’s Jewish community numbers about 40,000 from the national population of 10.8 million (0.003). Roughly half are members of the Jewish community of Antwerp, famous for its involvement in making the city a leading global center of the diamond trade, but increasingly under threat in recent years.

It should be mentioned that the Belgian organization The Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism issued in 2009 a report, indicating a surge in anti-Semitism in the country. Between 2004 and 2008, the Centre recorded some 60 anti-Semitic incidents each year. The same number of incidents was recorded in the first four months of 2009. About one third of the incidents are hate-mails. The Belgian organization attributed this surge to the growing tensions in the Middle East.

Illustrating how the Arab-Israeli conflict has allowed previously hidden anti-Semitic stereotypes to be openly expressed in these days, Belgium’s Karel de Gucht, the country’s former Foreign Minister and currently the European Commissioner for Trade, made it into the list of "Top 10 Anti-Semitic Slurs of 2010'' published last month by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, for a radio interview in which he ranted about the Jewish lobby controlling U.S. politics and about Jews always thinking they are right.

Source: Fight Hatred



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