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Antwerp: Chassid Attacked Amid Kehilla’s Fear Of Removal Of Army Protection

A Belzer chassid was attacked by an anti-Semitic thug this week.

The chassid, in his 60s, was on the way home from the Belzer Beis Medrash when a thug began punching him in his face. Jews nearby overpowered the assailant and called the police. Hatzalah volunteers arrived at the scene and provided emergency treatment to the chassid before evacuating him to the hospital.

The assailant was arrested by the police.

The incident occurred amid fears of the Jewish kehilla in Antwerp of the pending removal of army protection from Jewish institutions across the country by September 1, despite rising anti-Semitism in Belgium and across Europe.

The decision was made by the Belgian government as part of a plan to reduce the number of soldiers in Belgian cities.

Thousands of soldiers were deployed across Belgium in 2015 following the terrorist attacks at Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in Paris. But the new government sworn-in in 2020 made a campaign promise to “gradually withdraw” the military from urban centers.

The government has not offered an alternative plan to protect Jewish institutions.

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the chairman of the Association of Jewish Organizations in Europe (EJA), wrote a letter to the Interior Minister asking her to reevaluate the decision in light of the fact that “anti-Semitic threats are at a high and Jews are harassed on a daily basis.”

“During the year of the coronavirus, and especially following the conflict between Hamas and Israel, we’re seeing a significant increase in threats and assaults against Jews in Belgium and across Europe,” Rabbi Margolin wrote. “We do not understand the decision or the timing.”

Michael Freilich, a frum MP in the Belgian Parliament, has been working for months to reverse the government’s decision and ensure protection for Jewish institutions. He has appealed more than once to the Parliament to ensure protection for Jewish institutions but his proposals were not approved.

“I’m disappointed that my request last week to the Parliament was denied but there’s another opportunity to ensure protection for Jewish educational institutions in a meeting today between leaders of the Jewish communities and the Interior Minister,” Freilich told B’Chadrei Chareidim on Wednesday.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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