More open, unchallenged violence against Jews in France and Belgium. Will we have the guts to tell the French where to stick their Beaujolais Nouveau when it hits the shelves here in North America?
May 30, 2002 The Daily Telegraph (London)
Thanks to member Rabbi Dov Fischer for forwarding this important, disturbing article to us.
Dressed in the striking black mantles and shtreimel fur hats of the Hassidic Jews, Eli Fallick and his son stood out as targets for a gang of
20 Arab youths laying in wait.
The two were smashed to the ground on their way to the Belz synagogue in Antwerp, near the dividing line between the fast-growing Moroccan quarter and the Jootsewijk, where the city's 12,000 orthodox Jews live.
They were kicked ferociously about the body and head as a chorus of teenage attackers spat at them, chanted "Dirty Jew" and praise to Hitler, the now-routine lexicon of abuse in Muslim street attacks. "They went on and on kicking. I couldn't believe what was happening to us," said Mr Fallick, a diamond trader, speaking in a mixture of Yiddish and broken French. "I'm absolutely sure we would have been done for if the police hadn't arrived so quickly," he said. Mr Fallick was barely out of hospital a few days later when his 10-year-old daughter was assaulted on her way back from school. She was slapped, punched and humiliated, but not injured. Now she must walk to and fro in a group with an escort, like any child in Antwerp who is visibly identifiable as Jewish.
The incidents are now so common that they rarely make it into the local press, though last weekend it was reported that the Maccabee sports centre on the outskirts of Antwerp had been vandalised for the fourth time this year. A group of Moroccan teenagers tore up the furniture and daubed swastikas on the walls.
This is eerily familiar to Pinhas Kornfeld, who escaped the Nazis as a child, living underground for three years in Vichy France. He is one of only 1,200 Antwerp Jews to have survived the Holocaust and return to rebuild what was once been a great centre of Jewish enterprise.
Another 27,000 were sent to the gas chambers. "If we don't stop this now, it is going to take a very dangerous turn, the sort of turn we haven't seen for 60 years," he said in his well-guarded offices at Antwerp's Diamond Centre.
"It all begins when you start stigmatising groups. Hitler used to call the Jews 'communists' and Stalin called them 'capitalists': now they're starting to call Jews 'murderers', which is a way of saying its OK to target them."
Antwerp is not alone. The Anderlecht Synagogue in Brussels was attacked with Molotov cocktails last month; another in Charleroi was sprayed with gunfire; Jewish bookshops, butchers, and, above all, cemeteries are routinely vandalised - just statistics among the 2,000 anti-Semitic incidents reported since September 11, an average of 18 a day, with attacks on France's 700,000 strong Jewish community topping the list.
Yesterday, Europe's Jews began to protest, marching through Brussels to the European Parliament building waving Israeli flags. "We will never accept synagogues being set on fire in Europe, 55 years after Auschwitz," said Michel Fridman, the German vice-president of the European Jewish Congress.