Following the Paris terror attacks and the recent Belgian lockdown, the Chief Rabbi of Brussels (pictured above), has said his country’s 30-40,000 Jews are living in fear and that there is “no future” for them in Europe.
Chief Rabbi Albert Guigui was talking with an Israeli radio station after synagogues across Brussels were closed on Shabbat for the first time since the Second World War during the four day city-wide terror lockdown, reports Jewish News.
“There is a sense of fear in the streets, they understand that they too are targets of terror. Jews now pray in their homes and some of them are planning on emigrating.
“There has been aliyah to Israel as well as emigration to Canada and the U.S., people understand there is no future for Jews in Europe.”
The Chief Rabbi’s comments have, however, been questioned by a fellow rabbi, Menachem Margolin, who is the General Director of the European Jewish Association — Europe’s biggest federation of Jewish organisations and communities — reports European Jewish Press.
Rabbi Margolin said: “I have the greatest of respect for Rabbi Guigui, both professionally and personally, and I believe that comments attributed to him and reported in the media may have been misquoted or wrongly interpreted.”
He added: “The European Jewish Association is determined to continue our work to ensure that the three million Jews who live on our continent can continue to command a safe home and to be able to freely and proudly identify themselves as Jews.
“We urge all European rabbis and community leaders to stand up in defense of the right of European Jews to remain in their historic homelands should they choose to, to support and encourage their pride in their European heritage and to similarly fight for their safety and security, as God forbid we should instill yet more fear in already very worrying times.”
Rabbi Margolin concluded: “We will continue to demand of all European leaders the adequate protection of all Jewish centres 24/7 across Europe and speak out in the strongest terms against any expression of anti-Semitism and terror.”
Recent events have prompted the unusual situation of Israel-based Jews contacting their European counterparts to check on their safety.
According to Daniel Schwammenthal, director of the Brussels-based global security, Middle East peace, and human rights think tank AJC Transatlantic Institute: “You know something has gone awfully wrong when you get phone calls from friends and family in Israel who are worried about your personal safety in Europe’s capital.”
Mr Schwammenthal also suggested that Belgian authorities might like to follow the example set by their Israeli counterparts at the height of the second intifada. He said:
“Not even when facing the most horrendous Palestinian terror wave in the early 2000s did Tel Aviv shut down public life or declare a state of emergency. Europe’s leaders, often busy criticising Israeli anti-terror techniques, would be well-advised to quickly call their colleagues in Jerusalem.”