Thousands of people took to the streets of Brussels on Sunday in a protest against antisemitism, after a surge in outbreaks across Europe amid the war between Israel and the Hamas terror group.
The European Commission has warned that European Jews are facing threats after a spike in antisemitic incidents across Europe.
Brussels police said around 4,000 people attended the march in the Belgian capital, with some holding placards reading: “You don’t have to be Jewish to march against antisemitism.”
“An old evil is resurfacing in Europe,” EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said, during an event to light one of the candles of a Hanukkah menorah in front of the Commission and European Council headquarters in Brussels.
“Swastikas have been painted on the homes of Jews. Synagogues have been vandalized. Jewish children have been locked in their schools because the streets are not safe for them. This is horrific. And it is painful,” von der Leyen said.
“There should be no place for this hatred, especially here in Europe. And there is no justification for the rise in antisemitism. No war, no political argument, can excuse it,” she said.
“This moment of celebration must also be one to say that never again will we tolerate hate against Jewish people,” von der Leyen said.
She added that the EU would create a new award to celebrate Jewish cultural heritage.
The EU Commission has already announced an array of measures to tackle rising hate speech and crime including additional funding to protect places of worship.
Antisemitism has skyrocketed around the world since war erupted between Israel and Hamas after the Hamas-led October 7 massacre, in which some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, massacring some 1,200 people and seizing some 240 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.
Israel responded with a military campaign aimed at toppling the Hamas regime in Gaza and ensuring the end of its threat to southern Israel, as well as securing the release of the hostages.