Belgian MP files bill to ensure continued protection for Jewish sites

The bill will ensure synagogues and Jewish institutions receive priority.

Orthodox Jews in Antwerp, Belgium, in 2012 (photo credit: ALEXANDER STEIN/ULLSTEIN BILD VIA GETTY IMAGES)
Orthodox Jews in Antwerp, Belgium, in 2012
Belgian Jewish lawmaker Michael Freilich has filed a bill in parliament in Brussels that he hopes will help ensure that synagogues and Jewish institutions receive priority protection after soldiers are no longer deployed to protect urban sites for fear of terror attacks.
The Belgian army has protected such locations since 2015 but the soldiers are to be stood down by next September.
Some in Belgium feel that the soldiers create a deterrence but others think that protection is better left in the hands of the Belgian police, particularly officers with expertise in counterterrorism.
While it is expected that the Belgian government will act to ensure protection of Jewish sites, Freilich wants to ensure this through legislation.
As a member of the opposition New Flemish Alliance party, Freilich has proposed bill that will be voted on in February, to require that Jewish sites receive the same level of protection as other sensitive Belgian sites.
In a speech in parliament last week, Freilich said that “living under threat level three has an effect on a person, all the more for parents.”
As a father of four, he said, the matter was also personal.
“When you send your kids to school and you know that the threat of an attack is possible and probable, and you are grateful for the armed soldiers every time you drop your children off at school.”
The soldiers provide a “strong deterrent effect. If we replace them, please ensure it is done in a good way with proper funding and weapons.”
On this matter there cannot be any difference between “majority and opposition parties,” Freilich said, adding that, “a terrorist does not query ‘who did you vote for.’”
He asked parliament to “please ensure that these people, these parents, these children” who have to live in a high risk area are “not left out in the cold.”
Belgium has suffered a number of terror attacks in the past decade, including one at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in 2014 in which four people were killed, and on March 22, 2016, there were two attacks at Brussels Airport and another at Maelbeek train station in which 32 people were killed and 340 were wounded.