After anti-Semitic graffiti has resurfaced in Uccle, Viviane Teitelbaum calls on the Brussels government to make the fight against anti-Semitism a priority. “The number of anti-Semitic offenses is increasing in our region. The Brussels government must do something.”
Last Saturday BRUZZ reported that the residents in the Olmpjeslaan in Uccle noticed that a wall in front of a house was covered with graffiti . It read ‘Juif’ (Jew) a few days after Yom Hashoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day, also called Shoah in Hebrew. It is unclear why the building – it concerns a dental practice and a few apartments – was targeted. The names of the residents were also defaced.
“I was shocked. It’s always a shock when something like this happens. You never get used to something like that,” responds Brussels MP from Ixelles Viviane Teitelbaum (MR). “This is an attack on the lives of Jews in Belgium, in our region.” It is the second time in a few months that anti-Semitic graffiti has appeared in the Churchill district. End of last year someone had put the words ‘Juif=Nazi’ on, among other things, the Kasteel de Walzinlaan.
For the anti-Semitic graffiti from last weekend, the police are still investigating to track down the perpetrator. The location is a few hundred meters from the places where anti-Semitic graffiti was seen last year. In addition, the letters of last weekend’s tag are very similar to last year’s. The police therefore suspect that it is the same perpetrator and that he may live in the area.
“The municipality of Uccle always responds by quickly removing the graffiti,” continues Teitelbaum, himself a Jewish. “After the previous graffiti, I had put a question to the Brussels government about this. The number of anti-Semitic offenses is increasing in our region. The Brussels government must do something. The fight against anti-Semitism should become a priority for the Brussels government, but that is not the case.”
“The Brussels government must come up with a plan against racism and anti-Semitism. There is a distinction between those two things. It is always a form of exclusion, but there is a different logic behind it. By making the distinction you can better understand and combat these issues, but the Brussels government does not do that. The word anti-Semitism does not even appear in the policy statement.”
‘Fear of being identified as a Jew’
However, anti-Semitism is a problem that Jews in Brussels increasingly face. “We have a problem,” the CCOJB, the association of Jewish organisations in Belgium, tweeted Monday with a photo of the graffiti in the Olmpjeslaan. Teitelbaum says so too. “In Belgium, we have seen an increase in the number of anti-Semitic offenses of 36 percent in 2020, compared to the previous year, over the last five years it is an increase of 56 percent,” the MP refers to a study by the European Commission. Agency for Fundamental Rights. “What worries me is that facts like this aren’t even linked to events in the Middle East right now.”
During the corona crisis, Teitelbaum saw a flare-up of anti-Semitism during the demonstrations against the corona policy. Anti Vaxxers wore Stars of David when people like Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit) were depicted as Hitler. Teitelbaum: “Vaccination policy was seen as a way to wipe out the population and all kinds of conspiracy theories were circulating. We saw that not only on demonstrations, but also on social media.”
“Apart from the corona crisis, we are seeing more anti-Semitism. There is also a problem in secondary school classrooms in Brussels, where we see a lot of anti-Semitism among Muslim students. We find it in all layers of society.”
According to Teitelbaum, facts such as the anti-Semitic graffiti in Uccle lead to behavioral changes among Belgian and Brussels Jews. “Something like this weighs more and more on Jews, who no longer dare to show that they are Jewish. We note that many Jews now refuse to participate in Jewish events or do not dare to wear a kippah. For example, I know many Jews who no longer dare to hang a mezuzah , a Jewish tradition. Out of fear, they don’t want to be identified as Jew. It’s a big problem.”