Fears of a resurgence in violent antisemitism were raised after an attack at a Jewish museum in the centre of Brussels on Shabbos left three people dead and one badly injured.
The attack, on the eve of federal, regional and European parliamentary elections, prompted Belgium to heighten its terror alert level and increase protection at Jewish buildings and the Israeli embassy.
Speaking at the scene of the attack, Joëlle Milquet, the Belgian interior minister, said it was too early to say whether it was an antisemitic attack but the target suggested “there are strong grounds for presuming so”. Belgium’s prime minister, Elio Di Rupo, made an announcement expressing support for the Jewish community. “All Belgians are united,” he said. Police arrested one suspect and were looking for a second.
Witnesses said two people were seen getting out of car parked near the museum. A gunman then opened fire, shooting indiscriminately before getting away.
About 40,000 Jews live in Belgium, half of whom reside in Brussels. According to Viviane Teitelbaum, a member of the Brussels legislature, antisemitic attacks reached a peak in the early 1980s but dropped off before a recent rise in anti-Jewish sentiment. “It has been a very difficult place to live” for Jews, she said, adding that many young people are leaving the country.
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