Synagogues in Brussels were closed on Shabbat for the first time since the Second World War after a terror threat forced a four-day lockdown in the city.
As tensions mounted, the city’s chief rabbi said Belgium’s 50,000 Jews were living in fear and that there was “no future” for Jews in Europe.
Rabbi Avraham Guigui said: “There is a sense of fear in the streets, they understand that they too are targets of terror. Jews now pray in their homes and some of them are planning on emigrating.”
He added: “There has been aliyah to Israel as well as emigration to Canada and the US… People understand there is no future for Jews in Europe.”
But stressing the opening of new shuls and schools around Europe, the European Jewish Association’s Rabbi Menachem Margolin said: “We urge all community leaders to stand up in defence of the right of European Jews to remain in their historic homelands should they choose to.”
Others noted the irony of friends in Israel showing their concern for people in Brussels. Daniel Schwammenthal, director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute, which is based in the city, said: “You know something has gone awfully wrong when you get phone calls from friends and family in Israel who are worried about your personal safety in Europe’s capital.”
He also expressed frustration at the reaction of city authorities, comparing it to the actions of Israeli authorities at the height of the second intifada.
“Not even when facing the most horrendous Palestinian terror wave in the early 2000s did Tel Aviv shut down public life or declare a state of emergency,” he said.
“Europe’s leaders, often busy criticising Israeli anti-terror techniques, would be well-advised to quickly call their colleagues in Jerusalem.”