Demonstrators in Brussels hold a giant Palestinian flag and anti-Israel signs.
(photo credit: REUTERS/FRANCOIS LENOIR)
Well-known Israeli television journalists Dafna Liel and Amalya Dwek were shaken on Wednesday evening, when a cab driver in Brussels launched into a profanity-laden tirade, calling them “dirty Jews” and other anti-Semitic slurs.
Just over a week after Chief Rabbi of Brussels Avraham Gigi made controversial remarks about the lack of a future for Jews in the small western European nation, the pair, alongside an unidentified third woman, boarded a cab in the Belgian capital and were immediately asked if they were Israeli.
“We were frightened. He started to curse us for a couple of minutes,” before demanding three times the normal rate for the trip, Liel told The Jerusalem Post by phone from Brussels on Thursday.
“I was so scared, I said ‘Okay, we will pay you,’ and I really felt that he might attack us.
He looked so angry, he had this crazy look,” she recalled.
The anti-Semitic incidents did not stop there.
Later Wednesday evening, one of Liel’s traveling companions was approached by a man at a bar who asked her where she was from and angrily told her that he refused to sit anywhere near an Israeli.
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Several Palestinians in the mixed Jewish-Arab group visiting Brussels have also complained of what they characterized as “anti-Muslim hate” and a “tense atmosphere.”
“We are only here for four days. Actually, before it happened, I didn’t think anything like this could happen,” Liel added. She noted that a religious member of their group stopped wearing his kippa in public after the cab incident.
“Until you meet it, you don’t imagine. We have all been around to Europe [but] you don’t think it exists until it hits [you] in the face. I can’t tell you [what I think about the future of European Jewry] because I don’t live here, but we’ve had two incidents in four days and we are a small group. It’s not a good feeling.”
A third of Jews polled in a number of EU countries refrained from wearing religious garb or Jewish symbols out of fear, and 23% avoided attending Jewish events or going to Jewish venues, a 2013 study released by the EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights reported.
While 66% of those polled reported anti-Semitism as negatively impacting their lives, 77% did not bother reporting abuse or harassment.
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