Wathdog: No proof Belgian insurer discriminated against Jewish school

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — There is no proof to reports that a Belgian insurance company refused to insure a Jewish kindergarten because it was deemed t0o risky, a Brussels-based watchdog on anti-Semitism said.

The statement by the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, or LBCA, follows reports that appeared last week in local and international media that an unnamed insurance company declined to insure a Jewish kindergarten in the capital, citing an elevated risk factor due to previous attacks on Jewish targets in Belgium and Western Europe.

But Joel Rubinfeld, a co-founder of the national watchdog, told the La Capitale daily that after looking into the matter, “there was no proof confirming a discriminatory character with regards to a refusal.”

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The news about the alleged refusal came from the European Jewish Association, a lobby group that operates the kindergarten in question. EJA and the Israel-based Tal Rabina public relations office alerted media to the matter without naming the insurance company in question.

EJA Director Menachem Margolin and Tal Rabina’s office did not reply to JTA queries asking them to identify the insurance company to obtain their reaction.

Margolin, a Chabad rabbi who also serves as director for the Rabbinical Center of Europe, stirred controversy in January when he called on Jewish communities to arm some members against terrorist attacks.  The two organizations directed by Margolin have a tense relationship with some European Jewish lobbies and umbrella groups.

EJA’s call about weapons prompted 11 heads of European Jewish communities, including Belgium, to write in a joint statement that his initiative “can only be explained by ignorance and panic” and that he “lacks all the basic components for Jewish community responsibility.” Margolin said he regretted the authors’ “divisiveness” at a critical time for Jews in Europe.

“I spoke to Rabbi Margolin,” Rubinfeld wrote about the insurance issue. “He confirmed that the insurance company did not provide a document on the reason for the refusal, which an employee delivered orally.”

He also said the kindergarten found a competitor willing to insure it.