Belgian Gay Couple Attacked After Installing Mezuzah, Lawyer Claims

Israeli woman's partner hospitalized for 15 days following attack; violence preceded by weeks of anti-Semitic harassment by neighbors, lawyer adds.

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A Belgian woman was severely beaten after her Israeli spouse installed a mezuzah on the door frame of their home near Antwerp.

According to the couple’s lawyer, neighbors of Ruth Sverdloff from Israel attacked her life partner, Cindy Meul, on May 24 at the couple’s home in Aartselaar five miles south of Antwerp. She remained hospitalized for 15 days, according to the lawyer, Michael Modrikamen.

The violence on May 24 was preceded by weeks of anti-Semitic harassment on the part of several neighbors, whom Modrikamen did not name due to legal reasons. The harassment, he said, began directly after the women installed the mezuzah on May 1.

Meul told the Jewish Belgian paper Joods Actueel that since the mezuzahs were installed neighbors shouted anti-Semitic insults at her and her spouse, Sverdloff, on a daily basis, including “stinking Jews,” and “Jews out of this building.”

Two of the neighbors appeared at Meul’s doorstep May 24 when she was alone and said they had come “to finish what the Nazis started,” according to her testimony. The two neighbors barged into Meul’s home and proceeded to beat her inside.

Modrikamen complained of foot-dragging on the part of the police, whom he says refused to register a complaint against the neighbors until after the beating. He said one police officer refused to process a complaint by Sverdloff, a professional tennis player from Israel and a Belgian citizen, because she failed to file it in Flemish.

Joel Rubinfeld, the Brussels-born co-chair of the European Jewish Parliament, said: “The reports concerning this case are extremely disconcerting: It sounds like something from 1930s Germany. Especially disquieting is the authorities’ apparent inaction.”

Earlier this month prosecutors in Brussels decided not to file charges in a separate case from 2011, in which a 15-year-old Jewish girl who was identified in the Belgian media only as Oceane was attacked outside her school by five boys who called her a “dirty Jew” before hitting her repeatedly in the face. “A pattern of indifference emerges,” Rubinfeld said.

Claude Marinower, Antwerp’s alderman for education, who is Jewish, told JTA on Sunday he would study the details of Sverdloff’s case and make internal inquiries as necessary.

Illustration: MezuzotCredit: Courtesy

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