Half of Belgian Jews hide identity because they feel unsafe

Seven out of 10 Jews in Belgium hide their identity at least occasionally because they do not feel safe. Just over half do not even dare to wear Jewish symbols at all, according to a survey published on Thursday by the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA).

Nearly 8,000 respondents (688 in Belgium) in 13 European countries were interviewed in the first half of last year, before the Hamas attacks on Israel in October and Israel's subsequent military offensive against the Gaza Strip. But 12 Jewish organisations were also surveyed earlier this year.

"Jews continue to face widespread anti-Semitism," the FRA said. 84 per cent of Jews in Belgium cite anti-Semitism as a major problem in their lives. No less than 97 per cent had experienced hatred against Jews in their daily lives in the 12 months prior to taking part in the survey.

Below EU average

The Belgian statistics are significantly worse than the European average. One in three Jews in Belgium is discriminated against because of their identity. The average for the 13 countries surveyed is one in five.

Forty per cent of Belgian Jews say they avoid Jewish events out of a sense of insecurity, 54 per cent even avoid certain places - the highest percentage of all countries surveyed.

Other outliers include the 49 per cent of Jews who had been harassed because of their Jewishness in the year before the survey (the European average is 37 per cent) and the 9 per cent who had been physically attacked in the previous five years (compared to 5 per cent across the EU).

Belgian Jews have little confidence in the authorities to combat anti-Semitism. Only 10 per cent say that the authorities in Belgium do this effectively. The average across the 13 countries is 18 per cent.



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