EU official at center of police probe after alleged anti-Semitic attack on co-worker

EU labor union president denies charges he is anti-Semitic, saying incident has been "blown out of proportion"; complainant says she was physically and verbally attacked.

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September 3, 2015 15:52
2 minute read.
EU flags

EU flags. (photo credit: AFP/ DANIEL ROLAND)

 
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A European Union official is the subject of a probe by Belgian police after he allegedly physically and verbally attacked a co-worker, calling her a “dirty Jewess” during an anti-Semitic diatribe.

The Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism (LBCA) said Thursday that it had filed a complaint against 45-year-old Maltese official Stefan Grech, who is president of an EU labor union called Generation 2004.

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A 50-year-old Italian complainant had reached out to the organization, providing it with copies of her complaint, as well as testimony by a friend and witness.

The incident dates back to July 16 and occurred at an Italian cafe in Brussels, near EU headquarters. LBCA president Joel Rubinfeld told The Jerusalem Post that the rampage was triggered by the woman’s surprise at seeing a man carrying a metal placard engraved with Mussolini’s name. She asked him why he was promoting the infamous leader, stating, “Mussolini was still a dictator.”

This sparked a slew of allegedly anti-Semitic insults. Though the woman is not actually Jewish, she did not feel obliged to state her religion and simply replied “I could be a Jew.” The man then allegedly took the metal sign and hit her in the face with it, before taking her neck between his hands and attempting to strangle her.

“He was talking about Nazis and Jews,” a Spanish friend of the victim told police, “They were racists comments, that was very clear.” The man was also allegedly heard saying, “Hitler should have killed all the Jews.”

Grech’s Facebook page displays a number of anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian posts.

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The victim of the attack went to the police that evening to file a complaint against her co-worker, whom she had not been acquainted with previously, but whose name witnesses at the cafe gave her. The woman told Rubinfeld that she checked herself into hospital the next day after waking up with a headache, and a doctor found that she was suffering from a head injury, concussion and shock.

Following the attack she has been seeing a psychologist and needs to take anxiety medication, and has said she is afraid that her co-worker will want to “finish off the job.”

The LBCA denounced the incident, which was apparently captured on surveillance cameras, though this has yet to be confirmed. Rubinfeld described the occurrence as “a violent anti-Semitic incident which shows once again that today you don’t need to be Jewish to be a victim of anti-Semitism.”

He expressed confidence that the conclusion of the investigation would result in the dismissal of the EU official, but called on the Union to suspend the alleged perpetrator until then.

“This guy has done something very serious which contravenes the very basic values of the European institution, so we expect the commission will take strong measures against this guy and he will be fired,” Rubinfeld told the Post.

Asked to comment on the incident, Grech told the Post that he cannot comment before he gets a lawyer. “I learned about this incident from the media yesterday, and it is being blown out of proportion.” He was keen to state categorically, however, that he is not an anti-Semite. “I never even hurt a mouse. I have nothing against Jews or against any nationality,” he continued. “It happened at a bar. It was people joking around about politics and it got out of control.”

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