Fighting back: Belgian Hasidic Jew throws attacker to the ground

The suspect is a Ukrainian refugee who was shouting antisemitic comments at a group of religious Jews on Friday night.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A visibly Jewish man turned the tables on his attacker this past weekend in Antwerp, Belgium, throwing him to the ground and sitting on him until police arrived, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported Tuesday.

The incident, on the street near the city’s main train station, was filmed by a group of young non-Jewish men from a nearby balcony. A man dressed in Hasidic garb is seen being accosted by a man who talks to him for a few moments before raising his arm in a threatening manner.

Before he could land a punch, however, the Hasid tackled him and held him down.

A spokesperson for Shomrim, a security organization for the Jewish community, told JTA that the police arrived a few minutes later and took the man to jail.

He also noted that there have been at least 20 similar antisemitic incidents in the city in the past year.

According to Orthodox website Yeshiva World News, the suspect is a Ukrainian refugee who was shouting antisemitic comments at a group of Hasidim on Friday night.

It quoted a Shomrim volunteer who said that other Ukrainians have been caught by the group after “stealing bikes, breaking into apartments and threatening Jews on the streets…. We’re coordinating with the police and reporting every incident.”

Belgium has been struggling with rising antisemitism of the homegrown variety as well. In an Ipsos survey reported last November but taken in 2019 and 2020, some 26% of those surveyed revealed antisemitic views. Four percent were strongly anti-Semitic, 10 percent said they would discriminate against anyone of Jewish origin.

The Unia anti-discrimination organization said  it was aware of 115 antisemitic incidents in Belgium in 2020, a jump of 56% compared to previous years.

In the most infamous antisemitic attack in the country in recent years, former French ISIS fighter Mehdi Nemmouche gunned down four people outside the Brussels Jewish museum in 2014. Two were an Israeli couple and two worked at the museum.  He was given a life sentence for the “terrorist murders,” and his accomplice, who had supplied him with the weapons, was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The UN’s educational, scientific and cultural agency (UNESCO) dropped a famed annual carnival in Belgium from its Intangible Cultural Heritage list in December 2019 due to outrageous antisemitic displays on some of the floats. These have included huge puppets of religious Jews surrounded by money and rats and a representation of a World War II cattle car used to transport Jews to concentration camps, surrounded by marchers dressed in Nazi uniforms.