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May 20, 2015 11:50 am

Belgian Jews Turn to Self-Defense Training After Deadly Brussels Museum Attack

avatar by David Daoud

The World Betar Movement has set up self-defense courses in Belgium for local Jews. PHOTO: World Betar Movement official Facebook page.

Jews in Belgium have begun enrolling in a local Krav Maga class to learn self-defense, in response to the attack on a Jewish museum in Brussels last year that left four people dead, Israeli news site NRG reported on Tuesday.

Following the fatal attack at the Jewish Museum of Belgium, Zionist youth group World Betar established the courses to train Belgian Jewish youth in Israeli-style self-defense.

In addition to these courses, Betar’s newly inaugurated Belgian branch said it would conduct other activities encouraging immigration to Israel among local Jews.

The opening ceremony for the Belgian branch of Betar was attended by Betar CEO Neria Mayer, head of the World Zionist Organization’s Department for Activities in Israel and Countering Antisemitism Jacob Haguel, director of Betar in Belgium Shimon Breihart and youths affiliated with the Belgian chapter of Betar.

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During the ceremony, Mayer said that the opening of the new branch was Betar’s answer to terrorism.

“We are working mainly to strengthen immigration to Israel, but the rising antisemitism in Europe is causing many Jews to want to master the art of self-defense. This is our secondary mission, to train and strengthen you, in order to ensure that the Jews of Europe never again feel helpless or frightened,” he said.

“Wherever antisemitism rears its head,” Betar will be there to confront it, Mayer said in an interview with NRG.

During the inaugural ceremony, a woman passing by on the street began shouting antisemitic slogans and making the Nazi salute in front of an Israeli flag. Betar activists quickly removed her from the vicinity of the ceremony.

A year ago, a lone gunman opened fire at the Jewish Museum of Belgium, in the country’s capital of Brussels. Three people – two Israeli victims, Emanuel and Miriam Riva, and a French woman named Dominique Sabrier – were killed at the scene. Alexandre Strens, a young employee of the museum, was critically wounded and later died of his injuries.

About a week after the attack, 29-year-old Mehdi Nemmouche, an Algerian-born French citizen, was arrested in Marseilles in connection with the shooting. A French prosecutor said Nemmouche had links to radical Islamists and had spent over a year in Syria prior to the attack. If he is charged, Nemmouche will be the first known case of a radicalized Islamist returning from Syria and carrying out a terrorist attack, according to the British Telegraph.

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