Belgian Military Protection of Jewish Sites to be Withdrawn

Many thanks to Gary Fouse for translating this article from the Belgian Jewish daily Joods Actueel:

No extra security measures after withdrawal of soldiers out of Jewish neighborhood on September 1

August 20, 2021

In spite of earlier promises to guarantee the security of the Jewish community after the withdrawal of the military on September 1, the cabinet of the Minister for Internal Affairs has confirmed to Joods Actueel that there will be no extra personnel or budget made available. The minister declares her “understanding” for the concern. The Jewish community is “shocked” and wants further consultations. But for the government, the matter seems to be closed.

Joods Actueel was able to speak about this with Peter Poulussen, communications director for Annelies Verlinden. This confirms the following decisions of the cabinet. The soldiers will no longer remain on the street, neither the federal police nor the General Security Service (DAB) will take over the surveillance task, and there will be no extra budget for local police or for the deployment of private surveillance firms that the Jewish institutions may themselves hire.

However, Minister Verlinden had declared the following in Parliament on June 30: “I understand the concern from the Jewish community and their representatives. We have continuously underlined that we want to guarantee the same level of security as the current level. And I shall not fail to reassure the Jewish community on that as much as possible. We shall spare no expense to guarantee the security.”

The terror threat is set by the OCAD and the Federal Crisis Center. For our country, that has been lowered to terror level 2 for the last couple of years. That means that an attack at this moment is not very probable. Exceptions are a few embassies (which have their own surveillance) and the Jewish institutions. They are at terror level 3, which means that the threat of an attack is not only “possible”, but “probable”.

Disbelief

Yohan Benizri, Chairman of the Coordination Committee of the Jewish Community of Belgium, reacts with disbelief to the news. “We don’t understand this ambiguous attitude of the government. On the one hand, they promise for months that the same level of security will be guaranteed after September 1, but on the other hand, they refuse all of our questions.” Yet, Benizri still believes in a last-minute solution, and he won’t give up all hope-though at this moment, he is “very concerned”.

The Forum of Jewish Organizations is withholding comment for now. “We are in contact with the government and await an official response to us before we react,” says vice-chairman Philippe Scharf.

“Distrust motion”

Michael Freilich, N-VA member of Parliament and also a pillar of the Jewish community, reacts sharply. “On June 30, Minister Verlinden answered my question in the Chamber. On this, she indicated that the government ‘would spare no expense’. How you can promise this and then do the diametric opposite is beyond me.”

Michael Freilich: “This is a motion of distrust toward the entire Jewish community, which sends a clear signal that their security is not a priority for the federal government. There have been several attacks on Jewish targets in our country, in Europe; the situation in the Middle East and Afghanistan does nothing to suggest that this period is over. I call on the minister and the government to review this despicable decision.

“All government parties have butter on their heads in this. My resolution in Parliament to take the security of the Jewish community to heart has been voted down several times, the last time this past July 15, which causes me pain.”

Local forces

According to Minister Verlinden, the police forces in Antwerp and Brussels must pay for security with local resources. Police Chief Serge Muyters had earlier indicated that the setting up of long-term static security assignments was not possible without additional resources, and that such was not part of the standard package belonging to the local police.

Five times no

The Jewish community had presented the government with five avenues to continue providing for their security. They were rejected one after the other. The five avenues:

1.   Allow the soldiers to stay at their posts as long as the heightened terror level is in effect.
2.   Provide federal police agents to take over the task if necessary.
3.   Adapt the KB to transfer the task to the DAB [General Security Service], which was established after the attacks in Brussels and Zaventem.
4.   Provide resources for local forces if they must organize it themselves.
5.   Provide a budget with which schools and institutions can hire security for themselves.
 

De Wever

The Antwerp mayor, Bart De Wever (N-VA), also reacted:

“In recent years, the Jewish community, as well as the Antwerp police zone, have greatly appreciated the deployment of Defense after the attacks against the Jewish Museum in Brussels and in Paris. Our city is thankful for the hard work our military has delivered.

“The heightened threat level for the more than 80 Jewish institutions in Antwerp, in which we must, of course, give particular attention for a safe school environment, will, unfortunately, not yet end. The situation in Afghanistan, in which we cannot underestimate the mental impact on the violent tendencies within Islamic extremism, makes us realize that all the more.

“Both the leadership of the Antwerp Police Zone and I have urged the federal government to provide federal resources for the requirements of this security, which is determined by the federal government, even after the cessation of Defense deployment.

“The federal ministers for internal affairs, including the current ones, have always promised that this would be done. The city of Antwerp, meanwhile, has taken on more than its responsibility, through investments in technological and infrastructural security and the further development of the special service (DIA/ISRA) within the Antwerp Police Zone. But for the physical security of the Jewish community, 36 extra full-time employees are necessary, which the Antwerp Police Zone cannot supply without cutting core tasks from fighting crime and working in proximity. It was thus, always unthinkable for the city and the various ministers that the local police would take on this task alone.

“After various discussions over months, leaving our local police and my cabinet under an illusion, the minister decides now barely two weeks in advance that there will finally be no federal deployment. After the disappearance of the military, the Antwerp Police Zone has to take care of it alone. Even alternatives, for example, concerning the financial support for extra capacity with the local police, were just ignored. Moreover, the timing is hallucinatory. In September, there are several Jewish holidays that require special security measures.

“I take this very seriously. Whenever a local government in this country takes on more because the federal government is lacking, it seems afterward to be the case that there is no discussion of any subsequent federal responsibility. That is the world turned on its head and a further illustration of how the federal institutions are stuck.

“If the minister will not take on her responsibility, Antwerp will. With thanks to the excellent functioning of the Antwerp Police Zone and mindful of the security of the residents of Antwerp. In the coming days, I will, together with the leadership of the force, study how we will handle the cessation of the Defence [military]. But this is nothing less than a breach of promise from the minister and a slap in the face of the Antwerp Jewish community and our local police.”

8 thoughts on “Belgian Military Protection of Jewish Sites to be Withdrawn

  1. Arm and train the members of the community. Ask Israel to send a training team. Stand back and watch the problem solve itself.

  2. In this era of Anarcho-Tyranny, folks need to learn to protect themselves, because the government is going to protect the criminals.
    How stringent are the anti-self defense laws in Belgium? Can Jews carry walking sticks? Maybe ones with nice heavy brass or steel grips on them?
    Or maybe they can check with their grandfathers or great-grandfathers to find out where they hid the Sten guns in 1945?

  3. If you are a jew in western Europe and haven’t left yet? You will be a statistic shortly, the muslims are going to kill you.

    • Unless “the best laid plans of mice and men go astray” again? What if there was a real awakening? Hopefully there
      is somehow a silent ethnic majority including so many non Muslims.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.