Swiss Jews Fearful After Killing, Increase in Harassment on Streets

The release of a suspect in the recent slaying of a rabbi here comes as a Swiss Jewish leader is calling on observant Jews to take secure routes to synagogues.

The call made by Max Besserman, chief of security for Zurich’s Orthodox community, came after police released the 30-year-old suspect, saying they had little evidence that he was involved in the June 7 shooting death of Rabbi Abraham Greenbaum, a 71-year-old rabbi visiting from Israel.

The moves — and the growing fear among Switzerland’s roughly 20,000 Jews — come as anti-Semitism continues to mount in the Alpine nation.

The 1998 Swiss bank settlement, in which two major Swiss banks agreed to pay $1.25 billion to settle all claims surrounding Switzerland’s handling of Holocaust victims’ assets, led to an anti-Semitic backlash, as many Swiss citizens believe that international Jewry blackmailed the banks into the deal.

The nine-month old Palestinian uprising has made the problem worse, as religious Jews often are accosted in the streets and held responsible for Israeli actions against the Palestinians.

Many Swiss “do not accept that we are Jews with Swiss nationality, and not responsible for Israel,” said a teen-ager named Ilan.

The most frequent manifestations of public anti-Semitism are verbal harassments of Swiss Jews on the street.

Two observant Jewish children, Yossi, 10, and Miriam, 11, told Swiss Television last Friday that they have suffered such attacks “because we look different.”

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