BRUSSELS (JTA) — A Belgian watchdog on anti-Semitism warned that the country’s public schools are becoming “Jew-free” zones because of harassment.
Joel Rubinfeld, president of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, made the remark in an interview for the weekly Le Vif/L’Express published earlier this month. He revealed that the only Jewish student at the Emile Bockstael high school in Brussels left following harassment and threats from classmates after she posted a picture of an Israeli flag on Facebook.
The school “has become Judenfrei, there are no more Jewish students there,” Rubinfeld said, using the German-language term that the Nazis applied to locales which had been rendered “free of Jews.”
Rubinfeld also said that a growing number of parents are being forced to pull their children from public schools all over Belgium.
According to the weekly, the last Jewish student at Emile Bockstael, identified only as Sarah, posted a picture of herself holding the Belgian flag alongside the Israeli one in summer. She received 288 abusive comments, including threats, on Facebook, also by classmates and other pupils she did not know.
In September, she began attending one of the Brussels region’s three major Jewish schools, but the harassment continued. On Sept. 10, she received a photo of a former classmate performing a Nazi salute telling her that she is missed.
Her parents, who have four children, pulled her two older twin brothers from public schools for similar reasons, the weekly reported. Only their eldest child was able to matriculate in a public school.
Last week, Menachem Margolin, an Israel-born rabbi who runs the European Jewish Association lobby group in Brussels, said certain members of European Jewish communities should be permitted to carry firearms to defend themselves against anti-Semitic attacks like the Jan. 7 slaying of four at a kosher supermarket near Paris.
On Monday, the CCOJB umbrella group of French-speaking Belgian Jews distanced itself from his call, saying in a statement that it “can only be explained by ignorance and panic.”