Islamists, Leftists Target Europe's Jews

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BRUSSELS -- Europe's history shows that when economies collapse or a tyrant rises, Jews often become a target.

Today, anti-Semitism is once again on the rise in Europe and as CBN found recently in Brussels, much of it is driven by a growing Muslim population.

When a radical Muslim murdered three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, earlier this year, French leaders called it an "isolated incident."

Yet, the numbers show otherwise. A recent poll found that 24 percent of French citizens hold anti-Semitic views.

In Spain, that number more than doubled to 53 percent. And in Hungary, a whopping 63 percent of the population admitted having anti-Semitic feelings.

The same poll found the trend also growing in Britain -- up 7 percent since 2009.

"This is a threat certainly not only to the Jewish community, it is a threat to European culture itself, to democracy itself," explained Michal Gur-Aryeh, Israel's deputy ambassador to Belgium.

Defusing Anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism has gotten so bad that the Belgian government must now fight the problem of Holocaust denial.

"[The Belgian government] has the purpose of educating, especially, Muslim youth about the Holocaust. Obviously, it is their ignorance that is leading to much of this anti-Semitism that we're seeing," Gur-Aryeh told CBN News.

A large mosque that CBN News visited in the heart of Brussels, near the headquarters of the European Union, is another sign of the times.

Muslims now make up about 30 percent of the population in the city, and some say the rise of Islam is directly related to the rise of anti-Semitism in Brussels.

One of the more shocking incidents in Europe's capital city came when five Muslim girls brutally beat a 13-year-old Jewish classmate last year, calling her a "dirty Jew."

Belgium now puts a special representative in each prosecutor's office to address hate crimes like this.

Still, Maurice Sosnowski, a Jewish leader in Belgium, told CBN News that effort isn't enough for some in his community.

"The fact is, we have a lot of people who are thinking about leaving. I must say the truth," he said.

Growing Hostility

Sosnowski teaches at the Free University of Brussels, where he has criticized the administration for its silence over the growing anti-Semitic climate on campus.

"There are activists, I would say people from the extreme left wing, associated with Islamists. Those two [groups] are very active on the ground," he added.

Sosnowski said that alliance drives a campus movement known as "BDS," meaning "Boycott, Divest from, and Sanction Israel."

"When they call for a boycott, that's not a debate. It's not a synonym of debate," Sosnowski said.

"If you're at a conference and you defend Israel, you cannot speak," he continued.

As war looms in the Middle East, some European Jewish leaders worry their communities will be targeted.

This happened four years ago when Islamists and leftists led violent protests during Israel's operation against Hamas. Militants vandalized synagogues and physically attacked a number of Jews.

And the hostility wasn't confined to Europe. Large anti-Israel rallies took place in some American cities as well.

Now, the hope is that the growing anti-Semitism can be stopped from spreading any further.

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CBN News
Erick Stakelbeck

Erick Stakelbeck

CBN News Correspondent

Erick Stakelbeck is a sought after authority on terrorism and national security issues with extensive experience in television, radio, and print media. Stakelbeck is a correspondent and terrorism analyst for CBN News.  Follow Erick on Twitter @Staks33.