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Author(s): Ben-Rafael, Eliezer
Date: 2017
Abstract: Contemporary works have shown that antisemitism is far from moribund in Europe and it is in this context that in 2012 was conducted extensive research in the EU on current perceptions and experiences of antisemitism among Jews in Europe. I present and analyze here results that relate specifically to Belgian Jews (438 subjects out of 6,200 in eight countries). The first objective of this work is to learn about the Jewishness of our sample. Hence, we find that 40% of the respondents identify themselves as secular Jews; 15% consider themselves liberals; more than a quarter say they “observe certain traditions”; one sixth define themselves as Orthodox Jews. The data confirm, at this point, that there is only a limited correlation between religiosity and Jewishness: less religious or even non-religious people tend to express an identification with, and commitment to, Jewishness that were not weaker than the Orthodox’. The various factions are also united by a general feeling that while Belgium cannot be considered as an antisemitic state, it is currently experiencing virulent antisemitism in wide milieus. This antisemitism is bound to a sharp anti-Israelism salient in public life, the media, and the Internet. More than a number of other communities in Europe, Belgian Jews see antisemitism reigning in their environment with a gravity. They testify that the Israel-Palestine conflict weighs on their sense of insecurity; they confess that they have often considered the option of emigrating and they openly accuse Muslim extremists of inciting antisemitism. Belgian Jews also feel more vulnerable to antisemitic attacks and tend to resent a weakening in their position in society. On the other hand, what grants support to the Belgian Jews in these circumstances is that they often belong to the properous segments of the population. Moreover, there is the vitality of the community where one finds multiple forms of expression and activity - magazines, radio, clubs, synagogues, museums, etc.- and above all, exceptional educational infrastructures. These resources allow Belgian Jews, if not to protect themselves against the virus of antisemitism, at least to face it.