A 35-member Belgian security delegation, including the Antwerp police chief, have completed a week-long training session in Israel on combating antisemitism, Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Ministry announced over the weekend.
The program, which comes at a time of heightened antisemitism around the globe, is the third such delegation organized by the ministry this year, and follows previous successful cooperation with security personnel from the Baltic States and Brazil.
Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli said that the initiative was intended to offer participants the skills and knowledge to effectively combat antisemitism back home.
The delegation was presented with “the unique challenges and threats which the Jewish community face in the shadow of increasing antisemitism in Europe,” and were also briefed on Israel’s struggle against terrorism, he said in a statement.
“The struggle against antisemitism is something that we are determined to pursue,” said Belgian Ambassador to Israel Jean-Luc Bodson. “We are determined to work not only from top to bottom [in society], but from the other way as well,” he added.
The ambassador’s German grandmother has been recognized by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial as Righteous Among the Nations for saving Jews during the Holocaust.
Antwerp Mayor Bart De Wever noted that the city had a long history with the Jewish community, citing their resettlement in the Belgian port city during the Spanish Inquisition.
“We have a years-long history with the Jewish community in Antwerp and we are committed to their well-being,” he said.
The delegation also visited the Old City of Jerusalem and Yad Vashem during their stay.
About 30,000 Jews live in Belgium today, composing 0.25% of Belgium’s population. Most live in Brussels or Antwerp, which has one of the largest ultra-Orthodox Jewish populations in Europe.
Earlier this year, Israeli President Isaac Herzog delivered an address in the European Parliament in Brussels to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.