Anti-Semitism is rearing its head in Belgium as protests against the Israeli military operation in Gaza have led to violent attacks against Jews.
A Molotov cocktail was thrown at the liberal synagogue in Brussels on Monday. No injuries were reported, but the building sustained damage.
"Things are heating up here in Belgium," said Jewish Agency and Bnei Akiva envoy in Antwerp Meir Vachotzker. "When the fighting in Gaza started, a Molotov cocktail and a rock were hurled at a synagogue in Charlerois and caused damage."
On Saturday unknown assailants attempted to torch the house of a Jewish family in Antwerp. An eyewitness who resides nearby alerted the police to the place and they managed to extinguish the flames before the house caught fire.
Saturday also saw large demonstrations by Muslims and left-wing activists against Israel and in support of Hamas. Vachotzker said that the protesters set Israeli flags aflame, burned a Chabad menorah and sprayed swastikas and hate graffiti on Jewish-owned shops. The police arrested some 50 rioters.
The Jewish community in the country is planning a large demonstration n support of Israel and the IDF this coming Wednesday. On Sunday evening some 600 people – both religious and secular – convened at Antwerp's big synagogue to show solidarity with the soldiers in Gaza.
According to Vachotzker, Belgium's Jews have been living in fear since the operation started. "Vandalizing stores has become a trend. Some of the public may support Israel, but they don't show it.
There are many concerns, mainly security ones, involved in holding pro-Israel rallies. We’ve received security instructions, told to be more alert…and to watch ourselves especially after nightfall.