Jewish Centers Around the World Reinforce Security After Attacks in Belgium, Canada, France, Morocco, Netherlands, Thailand, Turkey
Jewish centers around the world are increasing security measures, with some even closing their doors, because of a surge in violent anti-Semitic attacks against Jews.
The frequency and violence of the attacks has been building for months, but open anti-Semitism has become a global phenomena since Israel began Operation Protective Edge in response to Hamas rockets from Gaza three weeks ago.
Violent anti-Semitic attacks have now been reported around the world: in France, nine synagogues have been attacked, some firebombed and a Jew was marked for a beating via a group on Facebook; in Belgium, a veteran jihadist of the Syrian war shot four people at the Brussels Jewish Museum; and in Morocco, the rabbi who leads the Casablanca Jewish community was beaten on his way to synagogue.
Protests in favor of ISIS turned into hate speech against Jews in the Netherlands, while violence was reported at pro-Hamas rallies in North America; in the U.S., in Seattle and in Boston; and in Calgary, Canada. At the weekend, in Miami and Miami Beach synagogues and cars parked outside were vandalized, with graffiti “Jew” and “HAMAS.”
In Norway, the Oslo Jewish Museum said it was closed on Friday as “a preventive measure taken in light of the shooting in Brussels” and would open again on Tuesday, while the Jewish Museum of Trondheim, in western Norway, will remain closed until further notice following police advice. On Thursday, the head of Norway’s intelligence service, the PST, said it had “recently received information that a group of extremists from Syria may be planning a terrorist attack” in the country “within days.”
As some Jewish centers closed, others took steps to strengthen security measures.
On Monday, Rabbi Nechemia Wilhelm, of Chabad in Bangkok, said, “There is already security around Chabad Houses in Thailand but our fear is that the terrorist organizations will seek to open new fronts against Israel, including targets abroad. The aim is to increase the current security and upgrade it so that Chabad Houses can continue to serve as a warm and safe place for every Israeli.”
“The open and welcoming nature of Chabad, along with the large Muslim community in Thailand, has turned the Chabad Houses into a potential target for terrorist organizations,” said the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which is funding the security boost for Chabad of Bangkok, along with four other Thailand Chabad outposts. The upgrades include more security personnel, more closed-circuit cameras and steps to reinforce the physical security of the Chabad Houses.
“Last week’s protest at the Israeli embassy in Bangkok included posters declaring ‘Jews are terrorists’ and the crowd burned Israeli flags,” the Fellowship said. “Chabad in Thailand has noted that during previous IDF operations, Chabad Houses were targeted by protesters.”
Fellowship Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein said, “During these difficult days, not only are we increasing our support for the citizens of southern Israel through mobile bomb shelters and emergency packages, we are equally committed to supporting and protecting Jewish communities around the world – we go where we are needed.”
In the past decade, The Fellowship said it has granted $6 million worth of security provisions for hundreds of Jewish communities in Latin America, Australia, Europe, the Far East, the Former Soviet Union, and Islamic countries.
Experts in anti-Semitism have also sounded the alarm. On Monday, Professor Charles Asher Small, director of ISGAP, the New York-based Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy said, “Around the world, Jew hatred is becoming an acceptable expression of protest.”
In a statement, ISGAP quoted Roger Cukierman, president of the CRIF, the umbrella organization representing the Jewish community in France, who said, “They are not screaming, ‘Death to the Israelis’ on the streets of Paris, they are screaming, ‘Death to the Jews.'”