ADL Urges Belgian Government: Adopt National Strategy to Combat Anti-Semitism

New York, NY, September 18, 2014 … Following a string of recent anti-Semitic incidents in Belgium, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) urged the Belgian government to devise a plan to combat anti-Semitism and take increased measures to protect the county’s Jewish community.

ADL praised Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo for publicly condemning the anti-Semitic incidents and ordering increased security.

“Prime Minister Di Rupo’s public condemnation of the horrific anti-Semitic incidents in Belgium was eloquent and contained significant commitments to condemn all anti-Semitic acts, respond to hate speech and mobilize Belgium’s security services,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “The Jewish community is feeling vulnerable and unsafe after these incidents and needs protection and reassurance.”

In a letter, Mr. Foxman stressed the importance of transforming the prime minister’s commitments into words through the “adoption of a national strategy to combat anti-Semitism” to “safeguard the Belgian Jewish community.”

“A serious strategy would include among its measures: anti-bias education, counter-radicalization programs, law enforcement training to better recognize hate crimes, strict enforcement of hate crime laws, and an adequate level of protection for Jewish synagogues and communal institutions,” Mr. Foxman wrote.

On September 14, rocks and bottles were thrown at the Jewish Martyrs’ memorial, and on September 16, a synagogue in Anderlecht was the target of an arson attack. On September 10, a man on a tram shouted that Muslims were being killed in Iraq and “Belgium does nothing, it’s ruled by Jews, who should be killed.” A 75 year-old Jewish woman was attacked on August 13 by a man standing in line behind her at a municipal building after he overheard the woman give a Jewish-sounding name to a clerk.  The attacker hit her, threw her to the ground, and yelled anti-Semitic insults.

A recent ADL poll in 100 countries found that 27 percent of those surveyed in Belgium harbor anti-Semitic attitudes.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.