Belgium insurer refuses cover for Jewish kindergarten over anti-Semitic attack risk

Reuters/Raheb Homavandi
A Belgian insurance company has refused to renew the policy of a Jewish kindergarten in Brussels. They cited the recent growth of anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish organizations, adding that the risk of insuring the school was too high.

The European Jewish Kindergarten is located in the same Brussels district as the European Union headquarters and it normally enrolls around 20 to 30 children per year. The decision by the Belgian insurance firm not to renew the school’s insurance policy was taken in relation to a marked increase in the number of terrorist and anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish institutions over the last few years.

A spokesperson for the European Jewish Association said, “The insurance agent contacted us a few days ago with the unpleasant news that the insurance company we’ve worked with up to now is not prepared to extend the kindergarten’s insurance policy, in the current situation, due to the high risk entailed by a Jewish institution,” according to Haaretz.

READ MORE: 2 Israeli tourists among victims of Brussels shooting, assailant caught on CCTV

In May 2014, four people, including an Israeli couple were killed at Brussels Jewish Museum by an Algerian-born militant who had been living in France.

The decision by the Belgian insurance firm has been met with anger amongst the European Jewish community, with Rabbi Menachem Margolin - director of the European Jewish Association and of the Rabbinical Center of Europe - saying, “It’s an absolute disgrace that the situation has come to this.”

The rabbi also implored European governments to do more to protect Jewish institutions across the continent, despite repeated requests and numerous warnings.

"It is unfortunate to see that the insurance companies have realized what many European governments have not - Jewish institutions are a target for terrorist attacks and we need to make sure that they are protected by security forces," Margolin added, as cited by the Israeli television station, i24news.

READ MORE: Jewish institutions on high alert after Copenhagen attacks

In February, a gunman killed two people in separate incidents in Copenhagen. The attacks took place at a free speech event and outside a synagogue in the Danish capital, where a guard was killed. This prompted the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reiterate calls, urging Jews living in Europe to return ‘home’ to Israel.

The Israeli leader first made the comments following the deadly Paris attacks in January, where gunmen stormed the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and then a kosher store on the outskirts of the French capital.

"Israel is your home. We are preparing and calling for the absorption of mass immigration from Europe. To the Jews of Europe and to the Jews of the world I say that Israel is waiting for you with open arms,” he said.

The Israeli prime minister, who was seeking re-election at the time, added, "Extremist Islamic terrorism has struck Europe again... Jews have been murdered again on European soil only because they were Jews.”

French President Francois Hollande hit out at Netanyahu’s comments, saying "Jews have their place in Europe and in particular in France."