Brussels synagogue torched

Once again, Jews and Jewish institutions are the targets in Europe. Authorities in Belgium are being cautious about drawing conclusions in an incident Tuesday, in which several fires were set in a synagogue in a section of Brussels that used to be heavily Jewish, but now is heavily Muslim in population.

The European Jewish Press reports:

A fire, which appears to be criminal, broke out early Tuesday morning at a synagogue in Brussels. According to Belgian daily La Dernière Heure, one or more people  managed to enter the building and set several fires on the fourth floor of the building.

Three people, a woman and two children were present at that time in the synagogue, were slightly intoxicated by the fire which was quickly extinguished by Brussels firefighters Brussels. The three are the family of the synagogue’s caretaker who was absent that day. (snip)

Asked about the reasons of the fire, Yehuda Guttmann, president of the Jewish community of Anderlecht, declared: "I do not know ... If the act was anti-Semitic, the authors would have burned a Torah, the sacred books. And that's not the case. Here we live at peace with everyone.’’

I wish that were the case. However, it may well be that the attackers hate Jews but are so ignorant that they know nothing about the Torah. Mere desire to harm or kill Jews could well have been the motive. And the perpetrarors could be what the European media delicately refer to as "youths" --  with no further identification.  It is not as if this incident is unprecedented:

The synagogue was already targeted by a Molotov cocktail in 2010 "Neighbors had extinguished the flames," recalled Guttmann.

The incident occurred almost four months after the shooting attack at the Jewish Museum of Brussels in which four people were killed.

On Sunday, stones and bottles were thrown at people visiting a memorial dedicated to the Jews in Belgium who were killed in the Holocaust. The memorial, which is located nearby the Anderlecht synagogue, was open to the public in the framework of the European Day of Jewish Culture.