Around 250 Belgian Jews out of roughly 30,000 left for Israel last year, according to data from the Jewish Agency, which is providing logistical support for those moving to the Hebrew state. This trend has always existed, but has increased over the last five years or so due to “imported anti-Semitism”. This is according to Betty Dan, President of the Belgian Zionist organisation (OSB), and Henri Benkoski, vice-president of the Committee for the Coordination of Belgian Jewish organisations (CCOJB).
On Sunday, the Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu reiterated his call to European Jews to emigrate to the Hebrew State after the attacks in Copenhagen.
The fact that more and more Jews are making the decision to leave Belgium for Israel is not linked to the “electorate” call, according to Betty Dan and Henri Benkoski. “Alyah (“return to Israel”) has been on the increase for years. It has been going up for four or five years, and the Nemmouche case made it more urgent for some”, says Betty Dan. According to figures from the Jewish Agency, the yearly emigration average was around 100 in the 1990s, and reached 150 over the next decade. Emigrations jumped up to 247 in 2010, and then became relatively stable up until 2014 (250).
The increasing amount of requests for advice on moving to and arriving in Israel have led to an Alyah fair being organised in Belgium for the first time in March.
Despite its situation, there are proportionately less attacks on Jews in Israel than elsewhere, says Henri Benkoski. For Betty Dan, the Hebrew State is without a doubt the best option available. “Jewish people will have less, as life is harder, but they will be safe”, she says. She added that the anti-Semitism in Europe is not linked to conflict in the Arab world.