“The location chosen and the theft of numerous Stars of David leave little doubt as to the anti-Semitic nature of the perpetrators’ intentions”, said Charleroi Mayor.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association, noted that ‘’certain members of the government in Belgium are giving these hatemongers a boost in their statements.’’
At least 85 graves in the Jewish section of a cemetery in Marcinelle, near the city of Charleroi in Belgium, have been desecrated.
According to the initial investigation, only the Jewish section of the cemetery was targeted, indicating the anti-Semitic nature of the vandalism.
No graffiti or written messages were found. The perpetrators stole the Stars of David affixed to the graves, according to the cemetery’s gravedigger.
The damage is due to the fact that, in order to be stolen, the objects had to be unsealed from the graves, probably with tools.
“The location chosen leaves little doubt as to the anti-Semitic nature of the intentions,” Charleroi’s Mayor Paul Magnette wrote on social network X.
The city of Charleroi has lodged a complaint with the police, according to Belgian newspaper Le Soir , and has informed each of the families affected by the damage. “I would like to express my solidarity and support for the families affected by these unspeakable acts. Anti-Semitism is an evil that we must continue to fight with all our might”, said Magnette, who is also President of the french-speaking Socialist ;
An investigation is underway to determine the circumstances of the damage.
Belgium has seen an increase in reports of anti-Semitic acts or remarks since the outbreak of the war between Israel and the Hamas on October 7.
On Wednesday, the Belgian government again reported an increase in such reports, pointing out that the Jewish community, its schools and places of worship are currently the subject of particular vigilance on the part of the police.
Yves Oschinsky, president of CCOJB, the umbrella representative group of Jewish organizations in Belgium, described the desecration as ‘’a horror’’. He sees the theft of the Stars of David as an attempt to rob the dead of their very identity.
In a reaction, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association (EJA), declared: ‘’The damn antisemites who vandalized the tombstones in the cemetery are disrespectful and uneducated cowards who pose a real threat to Belgian society.‘’
He warned the Belgian authorities that if the rioters are not caught and punished severely, they may turn their blind hatred towards the living people as well. He noted that ‘’certain members of the government in Belgium are giving these hatemongers a boost in their statements.’’