Police personnel are seen at the site of a shooting in central Brussels, May 24, 2014..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo pledged to establish a joint commission with the World Jewish Congress and local Jews to strengthen communal security, combat racism and strengthen Holocaust education and “facilitate the exchange of information,” the WJC announced on Monday.
The announcement came following a meeting with the Premier in Brussels.
A delegation of WJC leaders met with Di Rupo and senior ministers following last week’s shooting at the Brussels Jewish Museum
in which four people, including two Israeli Jews, were shot to death by Islamist Mehdi Nemmouche.
Nemmouche, who was radicalized in Syria last year, entered the museum with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, opened fire and fled. He was arrested in France on Friday.
That attack, European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor said at the time, was indicative of a “permanent threat to Jewish targets in Belgium and across the whole of Europe.”
Less than a day later, two Jews were savagely beaten outside of a synagogue in a Paris suburb.
The WJC said that Di Rupo told them that he supported “closer European cooperation to fight radical movements, and pledged that there would be no tolerance of hate speech.”
Speaking outside of the museum, WJC President Ronald Lauder told the press that “what we don’t want is that a young generation of Jews grows up with fear.”
At a recent press conference at Tel Aviv University, Kantor told Israeli reporters that unless Jews can be made to feel more secure, “Normative Jewish life in Europe is unsustainable.”
According to a poll conducted by the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights, up to a third of Jews in several western European countries are mulling emigration due to perceptions of insecurity.
Lauder also called on Europeans to clamp down on its citizens fighting abroad.
“Coming back to a Europe they hate, they were taught to kill. How we stop them, I don’t know, but we know very much that security forces today in Europe have to be made much stronger. They are not able yet to handle some of these people… Security forces in Europe must be strengthened. They are unfortunately not yet able to combat the general radicalization effectively,” he said.
The threat of Islamism, he continued, also affects Christians and is not merely a Jewish problem.
Maurice Sosnowski, president of the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Organizations in Belgium, said that while the response of the Belgian government and security forces was excellent, a politicized stateschool system was responsible for creating an atmosphere of anxiety.
“Instead of talking about the Shoah [Holocaust], some teachers prefer to talk about the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, and they put Israel on a par with the Nazis. That is not acceptable,” he said.
Last year Jewish groups criticized Belgian educational authorities this week after a government-funded website was discovered to be hosting lesson plans comparing Israelis to Nazis.
A lesson plan on the klascement.
be database included a cartoon comparing contemporary Gazans with Jews incarcerated in concentration camps as well as a role-playing exercise in which students were asked to imagine the world through the eyes of a Hamas sympathizer, Joods Actueel, a monthly Jewish newspaper, reported in September.