Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu blamed anti-Israeli incitement in Europe for Saturday’s terrorist attack at a Jewish museum in Brussels in which four people were murdered – an Israeli couple, a French woman, and a Belgian man.
“This act of murder is the result of constant incitement against Jews and their state.
Slander and lies against the State of Israel continue to be heard on European soil even as the crimes against humanity and acts of murder being perpetrated in our region are systematically ignored,” Netanyahu said Sunday morning.
In another attack the same day in France, two young Jewish men were savagely beaten by two unknown assailants as they left a Paris synagogue.
President Shimon Peres called upon European leaders to take action against anti-Semitism.
“We must act without hesitation against any form of anti-Semitism. The leaders of Europe should lead the struggle against anti-Semitism, which is rearing its head across the continent,” Peres said.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton – as well as leaders from Germany, the United Kingdom, and France – all spoke out against the Brussels attack.
“Everything possible must be done to find those who carried out this attack. There must be no impunity for terrorism,” Ashton said.
But only Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo picked up the phone and called Netanyahu to personally express his condolences and to update him on the investigation.
“As of now, you are the only European leader who has called me on this issue,” Netanyahu said. “I am very disturbed by the growing anti-Semitism in Europe,” he added.
To his cabinet Netanyahu said that Jewish building over the pre-1967 lines generates more response in Europe than terrorism against Israel.
“There are elements in Europe that rush to condemn the construction of a flat in Jerusalem, but do not rush to condemn – or offer only weak condemnations of – the murder of Jews here or in Europe itself and, even worse, welcome unity with a terrorist element such as Hamas, which calls for the destruction of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said.
“We oppose such hypocrisy, we protest against it, we will continue to always state the truth, we will continue to fight terrorism, and we will continue to build up our state,” he said.
The previous night Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman bluntly blamed those who call to boycott Israel for creating an atmosphere that led to the attack.
On Sunday European leaders spoke out against hatred of Jews but did not link it to Israel.
French President Francois Hollande said, “We must do everything to fight against anti-Semitism and racism.”
Both British Premier David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague sent messages to Belgian leaders. Cameron offered Britain’s help “to confront such bigotry across Europe.”
Hague wrote, ”Tragic events like these only strengthen our resolve to work with you and others to eliminate such shocking extremist, discriminatory behavior in Europe and elsewhere across the world.”
Peres called Belgian Jewish Community head Maurice Sosnowski on Sunday morning to convey his condolences.
“We are with you in this difficult time. We share your sense of shock and profound sadness.
If there is anything that we can do, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.
Our heart is with you, the families, and the community,” Peres said.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said Sunday that her Belgian counterpart, Annemie Turtelboom, had called her to explain that in Brussels the government sees this incident as an attack on the fabric of its society.
”I told her that Israel represents Jews throughout the world,” Livni said.
Livni thanked Turtelboom for the call and explained that leadership is measured by the way it deals with hate crimes against minorities.
Jerry Lewis and Reuters contributed to this report