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Report: Mezuzah installation spurs anti-Semitic harassment, assault

(JTA) — A Belgian woman said she was severely beaten weeks after she and her Israeli spouse installed a mezuzah on the door frame of their home near Antwerp.

According to the couple’s lawyer, Cindy Meul was attacked by her neighbors on May 24 in Aartselaar, five miles south of Antwerp. Meul lives there with her life partner, Ruth Sverdloff, a professional tennis player from Israel and a Belgian citizen.

Meul remained hospitalized for 15 days, according to the lawyer, Michael Modrikamen.

The story was first reported on Sunday in the Jewish Belgian newspaper Joods Actueel.

Modrikamen said the assault was preceded by weeks of anti-Semitic harassment by several neighbors, whom he did not name for legal reasons. The harassment, he said, began directly after the women installed the mezuzah on May 1.

Meul told Joods Actueel that since the mezuzahs were installed, neighbors shouted anti-Semitic insults at her and Sverdloff on a daily basis, including “stinking Jews” and “Jews out of this building.”

Two of the neighbors reportedly appeared at Meul’s doorstep on May 24 when she was alone and said they had come “to finish what the Nazis started,” she alleged in a deposition to police. The two neighbors allegedly barged into Meul’s home and proceeded to beat her inside.

Modrikamen complained of foot dragging on the part of the police, whom he said refused to register a complaint against the neighbors until after the beating. He said one police officer refused to process a complaint by Sverdloff because she failed to file it in Flemish.

Joel Rubinfeld, the Brussels-born co-chair of the European Jewish Parliament, said, “The reports concerning this case are extremely disconcerting: It sounds like something from 1930s Germany. Especially disquieting is the authorities’ apparent inaction.”

Earlier this month, prosecutors in Brussels decided not to file charges in a 2011 case in which a 15-year-old Jewish girl was attacked outside her school by five boys who called her a “dirty Jew” before hitting her repeatedly in the face.

“A pattern of indifference emerges,” Rubinfeld said.

Claude Marinower, Antwerp’s alderman for education, who is Jewish, told JTA on Sunday he would study the details of the Meul case and make internal inquiries as necessary.

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