Pro-Palestinian protesters crash Brussels concert by Israel-bound Phildelphia Orchestra


(JTA) — Two pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted a concert in Brussels by an American orchestra bound for a performance in Israel and a Jewish pianist.

The concert Thursday in the Belgian capital by Hélène Grimaud, a well-known French pianist of Jewish ancestry, had to be paused as security escorted from the hall two women who were chanting about “creating Palestine,” La Libre Belgique reported.

Grimaud was accompanied at the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles by the Philadelphia Orchestra, which is on a tour that includes several European countries and Israel.

The protesters did not say whether they were there over the orchestra’s plans to visit Israel or because of Grimaud, who headlined promotional material about the concert.

Separately, the RTBF broadcaster in Belgium reported Thursday that Brussels Chief Rabbi Albert Guigui and other Jews cited security concerns in declining the channel’s request to film them walking on the street while wearing a kippah for a program about anti-Semitism. Guigui told the channel that he stopped visibly wearing a kippah in 2001 after he was attacked in an anti-Semitic assault.

Joel Rubinfeld, the president of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, or LBCA, agreed to the request, but only if RTBF provided a security detail, Bruzz reported.

In April, a non-Jewish man wearing a kippah in Berlin was assaulted by an attacker shouting “Jew!” in Arabic. The victim was an Israeli Arab who said he donned the kippah to test whether it had actually become dangerous to wear the head covering in Germany.

In 2016, a community leader in France, Tzvi Amar, warned Marseille Jews to avoid wearing kippahs. And in 2014, a Danish Jewish school in Copenhagen urged its students to come to school wearing baseball caps over their yarmulkes.

At least a quarter of Europe’s Jews had resolved not to wear their kippahs or any other Jewish symbol publicly before any of the debates even took place, according to a 2013 survey in nine countries. In that European Union poll of 5,100 Jews — the most comprehensive study of its kind — 49 percent of 800 Swedish respondents said they refrained from wearing clothing that identified them as Jewish. In Belgium, whose capital city is the seat of the European Union, the figure was 36 percent.

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