Dutch rabbi reports anti-Semitic incident at park in Brussels

Cnaan Liphshiz

BRUSSELS (JTA) — A young rabbi from the Netherlands said unidentified individuals threw stones at him at a park in Brussels in a suspected anti-Semitic incident.

The rabbi, who is from the Netherlands, told JTA about the incident Saturday on condition of anonymity, citing a desire to have him name “associated with positive issues, and not anti-Semitism.”

He said he was walking through the park in Brussels’ southern district of Forest with a friend when “stones were thrown at us. For one reason only: being visibly Jewish.” No one was hurt in the incident, he said. He did not see the people who threw the stones at him and his conversation partner.

“I sometimes see groups of young Arabs in parks,” the rabbi said. “I smile at them and usually nothing happens, but this time I was in conversation when the stones started getting thrown.”

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The rabbi, who is in Brussels to visit family, said that he has had anti-Semitic insults hurled at him sometimes in the Netherlands, but never stones.

Separately, Israeli flags were at least twice removed and replaced with Palestinian ones from Place de la Bourse – a central Brussels square which locals turned into a commemoration site for the 31 victims of a series of bombings in Brussels on March 22, which security forces attribute to Muslim extremists.

In one case, a woman in Muslim garb wearing a scarf emblazoned with an image of the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem was filmed removing an Israeli flag, possibly tearing it, and stuffing it under another flag after placing a Palestinian one on the square.

In another, men speaking Arabic filmed another man covering an Israeli flag with a Palestinian one.

Commenting on his assault in Brussels, the young Dutch rabbi said: “I hope and pray that the leaders of the Muslim communities in Europe … stop their unhealthy obsession with Israel and the Jewish communities and they should start taking responsibility for their youth.”

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