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May 29, 2015 / 11 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Brussels’

Belgian Minister Vows to Uphold Jewish Ritual Slaughter

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

Flemish Minister for Animal Welfare Ben Weyts has reversed his position on the issue of Jewish ritual slaughter in Belgium.

The minister advised the European Jewish Association (EJA) this week he intends to “enforce in all aspects” Belgian law facilitating the practice of ritual slaughter. The Brussels-based EJA represents Jewish communities across Europe.

Weyts offered his full apologies in a letter to EJA General Director Rabbi Menachem Margolin Wednesday for the “misunderstanding” which prompted the public backlash to his previous call for a total ban on the practice in Belgium in televised comments.

The minister’s clarifications came following Margolin’s appeal against apparent plans to implement a total ban on the practice of Jewish ritual slaughter, insisting such a move “is against freedom of religion”.

Speaking on Belgian television show ‘De Zevende Dag’ (VRT) in late September, Weyts had declared that he would actively pursue a total ban on the practice of animal slaughter without pre-stunning.

If successful, Weyt’s attack on shechita, as the practice is called in Hebrew, would have been implemented by 2015.  Margolin emphasised that the Jewish practice of shechita is “the most humane method of slaughter” as it ensures the welfare of the animal not only at the time of slaughter, but also concerns itself with “the conditions in which animals are raised before their slaughter.”

“After reading your letter, I regret that apparently my declarations regarding the slaughter of animals without prior stunning as prescribed by certain religious rites have been misunderstood,” the minister wrote.

“As you have indicated, European regulation no. 1099/2009, stipulates that prior stunning of animals is not required in case of slaughter prescribed by religious rites. From now on this regulation will be enforced in all its aspects.”

Margolin thanked Weyts for his clarification, adding, ” I am very happy that we were able to come to an understanding about the importance of kosher slaughtering for Jews, not only in Belgium, but all over Europe.”

The European Jewish Association has previously successfully campaigned against legislation to restrict the practice of ritual slaughter in Poland, in addition to appealing against similar legislation in Denmark, as well as legislation against male circumcision in Germany.

SWIFT Refuses to Suspend Israel, Russia

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) has announced it will not buckle to pressure to disconnect Israel – or for that matter, Russia – from its international transaction system.

“SWIFT regrets the pressure, as well as the surrounding media speculation, both of which risk undermining the systemic character of the services that SWIFT provides its customers around the world. As a utility with a systemic global character, it has no authority to make sanctions decisions,” the group said in a statement released on Monday.

“SWIFT services are designed to facilitate its customers’ compliance with sanctions and other regulations, however SWIFT will not make unilateral decisions to disconnect institutions from its network as a result of political pressure,” the communique said.

The international Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement has been trying to pressure the system – as well as numerous corporations and other systems – to boycott Israel in an attempt to destroy its economy. BDS supporters are hoping that through economic destruction, Israel will be forced to withdraw from territory it won in the defensive war forced upon it by Arab nations in 1967 – including numerous Jerusalem neighborhoods restored to the Israeli capital since that time.

Disconnecting Israel from SWIFT would isolate its economy from international trade. However, the Brussels-based SWIFT is incorporated under Belgium law, the system noted, blocking it from making such unilateral decisions.

“Any decision to impose sanctions on countries or individual entities rests solely with the competent government bodies and applicable legislators. Being EU-based, SWIFT complies fully with all applicable European law,” the statement said.

Last month, the SWIFT system transmitted more than 21 million financial messages per day between more than 10,500 financial institutions and corporations, in 215 countries, according to the RT news site.

Over the summer there were discussions among EU leaders on whether to consider disconnecting Russia from the SWIFT system as means of pressuring Moscow into backing away from the Ukraine conflict.

Arson Attack on Brussels Synagogue

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Arsonists set fire to a Brussels synagogue on Tuesday, that was previously firebombed in 2010, but Jewish officials are not ready to declare the incident as anti-Semitic.

The wife and two children of the synagogue’s caretaker, who was not present at the time of the arson, suffered slight smoke inhalation after the fire broke out on the fourth floor of the building, where they live.

“It would seem that the fire was set deliberately,” Laurens Dumont, a spokesman for the city prosecutor, told AFP.

Jewish community officials were even more careful and declared that anti-Semites may not have torched the synagogue because Torah scrolls and sacred books were not burned.

Of course, the arsonists could have anticipated that the fire would spread and would destroy the Torah scrolls, but Jews in the Diaspora often prefer to suppose that they are not targets of hate crimes and that they are not in danger.

Maybe it was not an arson.

Maybe it was not anti-Semitic.

We hope it wasn’t, but don’t be surprised if it was.

Maybe the fact that the synagogue is located in a heavily-populated Muslim area is only coincidental.

Maybe.

2000 Mourn Brussels Victims at Silent Vigil

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

BRUSSELS (JTA) — A crowd of approximately 2,000 gathered for a silent vigil in front of the Jewish museum in Brussels where an unidentified shooter killed four people.

The gathering on Sunday came 24 hours after the shooting at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in the center of the country’s capital.

Prime Minister Elio di Rupo was among the Belgian politicians who cleared time to attend the vigil on Election Day.

“Elections are usually a celebration for democracy, but this year that celebration is in the shadow by this terrorist attack,” he said later that day at a news conference. “My thoughts go out to the Jewish community and their families.”

At the vigil, many lit candles in memory of the four victims and placed flowers and Israeli and Belgian flags at the museum’s entrance. Two of the victims were an Israeli couple on vacation. Emanuel and Miriam Riva of Tel Aviv, both in their 50s, were shot in the head and died instantly, as did Dominique Chabrier, a French volunteer at the museum.

A fourth fatality was identified as Alexandre Strens, a museum employee in his 20s. Strens died in the hospital hours after he was shot. “It is good to hear the Belgian politicians sharing their outrage at this Saturday’s attack,” said Robin Sclafani, director of CEJI, a Jewish Brussels-based not-for-profit which promotes tolerance through education. ”I hope they can finally hear the alarm this time for what is a wake-up call that has been snoozed too many times already.”

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, director of the European Jewish Association, or EJA, called on European governments to set up a pan-European task force to fight anti-Semitism.

“Condemnation after a predictable attack is nothing but a way to cleanse one’s conscious” unless it is accompanied by concrete actions, he said.

Also Sunday, police released security camera footage of the perpetrator entering the museum with an automatic assault rifle and asked for the public’s help in locating him and other accomplices, including a driver who drove him to the museum in an Audi.

Neo-Nazi Parties Win Seats in 2 European Parliament Elections

Monday, May 26th, 2014

For the first time ever, neo-Nazi political parties have won seats in the Brussels-based European Parliament, according to the latest exit polls. The election took place yesterday (Sunday, May 25), just a day after three Jews were murdered and a fourth person seriously wounded in a terror attack at the city’s Jewish Museum.

Is it a surprise that one of the parties was located in Germany? But a second country also voted in neo-Nazis as well — and not so far from Israel, either.

The neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NDP) won one MEP (Member of the European Parliament) seat in yesterday’s European Union (EU) elections, coming in fourth with one percent of the vote in German polls. In the 1930s, Germany’s Nazi party was officially named the ‘National Socialists.’

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s pro-EU Christian Democratic Union party won 36 percent of Germany’s vote, followed by the Social Democrats, a center-left coalition partner with 27.5 percent. But in third place was the new “Alternative for Germany” with 6.5 percent of the nation’s vote, according to The Daily Mail. And the anti-EU AfD party was reported to have won as many as six MEPs; the party has advocated for ending the country’s use of the euro as currency.

However, Germany was not the only country that flipped to the right, by a long shot.

In Greece, for the first time the extreme-right neo-Nazi ‘Golden Dawn’ party won three seats, coming in third with nine percent of the vote. The anti-EU Syriza party also took the lion’s share of the vote, with 27 percent, an ominous sign, analysts said.

“Euroscepticism,” – a relatively new term – is criticism of the European Union and opposition to the process of political European integration – belief that integration weakens the nation state – and this trend ruled the elections on Sunday, as The Daily Mail pointed out.

In Italy, the anti-EU “Five Star” (M5S) movement, headed by ex-comedian Beppe Grillo, appeared to be headed for a close second place with 25 to 28 percent of the vote. First place was just a shave ahead by Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi’s center left Democratic Party (PD) with 29.5 to 32.5 percent of the vote.

In France, Marine Le Pen made headline when her hardline French National Front party proved the most popular with a quarter of the vote, 11 percent ahead of the ruling Socialists. Le Pen called for new elections in France and labeled the EU Public Enemy Number One, saying it is “like the old Soviet Union – it can’t be improved.” In fact, President Francoise Hollande’s party came in third with 14.7 percent of the vote, following the center-right UMP, which garnered 20.3 percent.

In Sweden, the Feminist Initiative Party also won seats in the European Parliament for the first time, with around seven percent of the vote. However, so did far-right Sweden Democrats.

In Belgium, where election coverage competed with coverage of the terror attack at the Brussels Jewish Museum, Flemish separatists were the big winners in the parliamentary elections there. But it will be months before a new government is formed.

The center-right New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) has a third of the votes in Flanders, where 60 percent of Belgian residents live and where Dutch is spoken – this, after 80 percent of the votes are counted. N-VA leader Bart De Wever said he believes the king will grant him the right to attempt to form a coalition, but it will mean finding potential French-speaking allies. Due to the Belgian system, there are effectively two elections, each with at least parties in two languages – French and Dutch. At least two from each side will be needed to form a coalition.

“Moderate” Muslims Silent on Brussels Attack

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

“Moderate” Islamic groups have remained silent on the murder of four people at the Brussels Jewish Museum on Saturday.

In contrast to Jewish groups, which have roundly denounced price tag vandalism in response to nearly every incident, as of this writing not one major Islamic organization in Europe, North America, Australia or the Middle East has condemned the yesterday’s murders in Brussels.

Non-Jewish leaders in Belgium spoke out immediately about the attack.  Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo said, “Our country and all Belgians, regardless of their language, their origin or their beliefs, are united together to face this despicable attack on a Jewish cultural center.”

The country’s Interior Minister, Joelle Milquet, spoke out immediately upon hearing about the attack. Belgium would  “apply to a maximum level of protection to Jewish sites,” he said.

While many left-wing activists, including the Haaretz daily, cautioned that “it is too early to jump to conclusions aver the identity of the shooter in Saturday’s terror attack,” even the left-wing mouthpiece was forced to conclude that “for now, the scenario of radical Muslim attackers… is most likely.”

But that does not seem to have moved “moderates” like Feisal Abdul Rauf, the author of “What’s Right With Islam” and spiritual leader of The Cordoba Initiative who gained notoriety by trying to build an Islamic prayer centre on the ruins of the World Trade Center. Rauf’s website fetters statements about violence at the Boston Marathon and condemning the burning of Christian homes in Pakistan. But the murder of Jews by Muslims appears to be off the Cordoba radar.

Same could be said for the Islamic Council of Victoria (Australia), despite the fact that leaders of that group have protested their depiction as radical terror sympathisers for many years. Other “moderate” groups that have yet to condemn the shooting include the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe, Native European Muslims Assembly, the Islamic Center of Southern California, the Organization of the Islamic Conference

Updated: 3 Killed in Brussels Jewish Museum Shooting

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

Two men and a woman were killed in a shooting at the Brussels Jewish Museum on Saturday morning. A fourth person who was seriously injured is in the hospital.

Twelve people were treated for shock.

Belgium’s interior minister told Belgian TV that the attack might be anti-Semitic.

Witnesses say the attack was done by a single shooter.

Belgium media is reporting that a suspect has been arrested, and police are looking for a second suspect.

42,000 Jews live in Brussels.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said that the attack was the result of the unending incitement against Jews and the state of Israel, in Europe.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/at-least-3-killed-in-brussels-jewish-museum-shooting/2014/05/24/

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