BRUSSELS, Belgium – A Belgian teacher insists he didn’t mean to tell a student she should be put on a “freight wagon.”
The Emile Jacqmain school board in Brussels has summoned the unnamed high school math teacher, demanding to know why he told a Jewish student, “We should put you all on freight wagons.”
A 16-year-old female student filed a complaint against him for “inciting racism and anti-Semitic hatred,” the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports.
“One does not joke about such subjects,” the girl responded after his remark.
Moments earlier, the teacher reportedly told another student with a Polish-sounding last name to “go back to Poland” while imitating a “German accent.”
After making the remark the girl, the teacher offered a qualified apology, saying, “I did not mean to say it, and I apologized to anyone shocked by it,” according to RTL.
Despite the “apology,” the girl’s parents filed the complaint, which the school board processed “promptly.”
“My feeling is that this teacher meant to say exactly what he said, and that this is yet another example of the anti-Semitism that is making life increasingly difficult for Belgian Jews here,” Joel Rubinfeld, president of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, tells the JTA.
Tens of thousands of Belgian Jews were rounded up by the Nazis during World War II and sent to death camps in Poland.
Newsweek reports there has been a “spike” in anti-Semitic attacks in Europe “fueled by the war in Gaza.”
Stephen Pollard, the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, says, “These people were not attacked because they were showing their support for the Israeli government. They were attacked because they were Jews, going about their daily business.”
In 2014, a gunman opened fire on the Jewish Museum in Brussels and killed four people.
A recent poll found 76 percent believed anti-Semitism had “worsened over the past five years in their home countries,” with the darkest turn occurring in France, Hungary and Belgium.
“ADL Global 100 surveyed 53,000 adults in 102 countries. It found that 26% held deeply anti-Semitic attitudes, answering “probably true” to six or more of 11 negative stereotypes of Jews,” Newsweek reports.