Two Israeli reporters have told of their disturbing encounters with anti-Semitism during a stay in Brussels, where they were called “dirty Jews,” among other slurs.
Well-known Israeli broadcast journalists Dafna Liel and Amalya Duek were subjected to an obsenity-filled, anti-Semitic tirade by a taxi driver on Wednesday evening.
“We were frightened. He started to curse us for a couple of minutes” before demanding three times the normal rate for the trip, Liel told The Jerusalem Post by phone from Brussels on Thursday. The driver had first asked them if they were Israelis.
“I was so scared I said ‘okay, we will pay you,’ and I really felt that he might attack us. He looked so angry, he had this crazy look,” she recalled.
Later that evening in a public place, a friend of Liel’s was angrily told by a man that he would not sit anywhere near an Israeli.
“We are only here for four days. Actually, before it happened I didn’t think anything like could happen,” she added, noting that a religious member of their group stopped wearing his kippa in public after the cab incident.
“Until you meet it you don’t imagine. We have all been around to Europe [but] you don’t think it exists until it hits [you] in the face. I can’t tell you [what I think about the future of European Jewry] because I don’t live here, but we have two incidents in four days and we are small group. It’s not a good feeling.”
The incident occurred just over a week after Chief Rabbi Avraham Gigi sparked controversy with his observation about the lack of a future for Jews in Belgium.
Some 23 percent of Jews in living in Europe refrain from wearing religious garb or symbols in public due to fear of provoking anti-Semitic reaction, according to a 2013 study released by the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights.