Arson Attempt Latest in Antwerp's Anti-Semitic Response to Gaza War

Arson Attempt Latest in Antwerp's Anti-Semitic Response to Gaza War

REUTERS/Athar Hussain

Supporters of the Imamia Students Organisation (ISO) burn Israeli and U.S. flags during a protest against the Israeli air strikes on Gaza.

by Zalman Nelson - Antwerp, Belgium

January 6, 2009

( On Saturday night, unknown perpetrators shoved rags with lighter fluid into the mailbox of a Chabad family’s home in Antwerp, Belgium and lit them on fire. Luckily the fire did not catch on and the home sustained only minor smoke damage.

A family member told police they were awoken in the middle of the night by a burning smell and discovered the fire upon investigation. Police and fire teams responded immediately and promptly put out the blaze. The house, bearing a sign on the door with a picture of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, is clearly recognizable as Jewish, and with a frightening increasing in anti-Semitic event since the beginning of the Gaza war, members of the local Arab population of 40,000 remain prime suspects.

“There is great concern over safety since the war started,” said local Chabad Rabbi Shabtai Slavaticki whose outdoor menorah display was destroyed by vandals on the day the war started. “We are weighing ways to increase security.”

Rabbi Slavaticki told that Jewish schools in Antwerp have long employed Israeli trained security guards, but that synagogues are patrolled by local security services.

On Saturday nearly 100 youngsters were detained by the police for questioning after attempting to take part in an unauthorized demonstration in the heart of Antwerp against Israel.

“They were screaming ‘death for Jews’ and reports said many were armed with weapons,” said Rabbi Slavaticki.

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