BRUSSELS (JTA) — A young rabbi from the Netherlands said unidentified individuals threw stones at him at a park in Brussels in a suspected anti-Semitic incident.
The rabbi told JTA about the incident Saturday on condition of anonymity, citing a desire to have his name “associated with positive issues and not anti-Semitism.”
Meanwhile, Israeli flags were removed at least twice from a central Brussels square that was turned into a memorial for the 31 people killed in a series of bombings in the city last week and replaced with Palestinian ones.
In the rock-throwing incident, the rabbi said he was walking through the park in Brussels’ southern district of Forest with a friend when “stones were thrown at us. For one reason only: being visibly Jewish.” No one was hurt in the incident, he said. The rabbi said he did not see the people who threw the stones at him and his conversation partner.
“I sometimes see groups of young Arabs in parks,” the rabbi said. “I smile at them and usually nothing happens, but this time I was in conversation when the stones started getting thrown.”
The rabbi, who is in Brussels to visit family, said he has had anti-Semitic insults hurled at him sometimes in the Netherlands, but never stones.
Commenting on the assault, he said: “I hope and pray that the leaders of the Muslim communities in Europe … stop their unhealthy obsession with Israel and the Jewish communities and they should start taking responsibility for their youth.”
In the flag incidents, the flags were taken from the Place de la Bourse, where the locals are remembering the victims of the airport and metro station bombings on March 22. The Islamic State terrorist group has taken responsibility for the attacks.
In one case, a woman in Muslim garb wearing a scarf emblazoned with an image of the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem was filmed removing an Israeli flag, possibly tearing it and stuffing it under another flag after placing a Palestinian one on the square.
In another, men speaking Arabic filmed another man covering an Israeli flag with a Palestinian one.