European Jewish Association

Belgium Government to Remove Army Protection at Jewish Institutions on 1st Sep Despite On-Going Threat Status

Head of European Jewish Association rails against decision, saying it makes ‘Zero sense’ and adding that in absence of providing alternative security arrangements, it leaves Jews “wide open with a target sign on our backs”.

Brussels 23 June 2021. In Belgium the security threat is currently medium according to the metrics provided by governments own Coordination Unit for Threat Analysis (CUTA). But for Jewish Communities, as well as the American and Israeli embassies, the threat remains “serious and probable”.

It was therefore with great alarm that the European Jewish Association, through its partner organisation the Jewish Forum of Antwerp and Belgian MP Michael Freilich, learned that the Belgian government was removing army protection from Jewish buildings and institutions starting on 1st September. The decision was taken without consultation with Jewish communities and without a suitable alternative being proposed.

Army presence at Jewish Buildings has been in place since the Brussels terror attacks and Jewish Museum murders.

In a statement today, the Chairman of the European Jewish Association Rabbi Menachem Margolin said,

“The Belgian Government has up until now been exemplary in its protection of Jewish Communities. In fact, we at the European Jewish Association have held up the Belgian example as one to be emulated by other Member States. For this dedication to keeping us safe and secure we have always expressed out utmost gratitude and appreciation.

Is it also because of this dedication that the decision to remove the army on September 1st makes Zero sense. Unlike the US and Israeli embassies, Jewish communities do not have access to any State security apparatus. Not only that but while the threat may be medium for Belgium, for Jews the threat is both serious and probable according to the data provided to the government by their own agency, the Coordination Unit for Threat Analysis.

It is alarming too that Jewish communities have not even been properly consulted about this move. Nor is the government presently proposing any alternatives. As of now, it leaves Jews wide open and with a target on our backs.

Anti-semitism is increasing in Europe, not decreasing. Belgium, sadly is not immune to this. The pandemic, the recent Gaza operation and its fallout are worrying Jews enough as it is, without this even added to the equation. Worse, it sends a signal to other European countries to do likewise. I am urging the Belgian government to reconsider this decision or at the very least offer a solution in its stead.”

 

Rabbi Margolin has written to the Belgium Minister of the Interior, Annelies Verlinden, seeking an urgent meeting and asking for the move to be reconsidered:m v 23_6