My original intention was to write this post on r/Belgium, but I figured I better think twice since the subreddit can be rather sensitive when it comes to racial issues(I do love the subreddit tho). Then I found this sub, and I am finally writing this here.
I am a Korean student currently studying in Belgium. I genuinely love this place and people, and personally never been exposed to racism myself. But I did sense that something weird is going on in this city, and I wonder if it is anti semitism.
The city where I reside in(Antwerp), has sizable Jewish community. I learnt about history and all that before I came here, hence I wasn’t surprised to see so many jewish people near my the hotel that I quarantined.
Later, I got out of hotel and started searching for a flat, and came across this real estate agent. She was super friendly 20-something woman and I genuinely felt comfortable at the first glance. We had small chit-chats here and there while looking for flats, and then one time she asked where I was residing in, and I answered it was the hotel near Central station. Then I added there were many jewish people around the hotel, so I suppossed it was Jewish street or sth in that sorts, and her face turned white.
She told me to get out of the hotel asap, and that while I am staying I shall not speak or go near to any of Jews. I never saw her getting so solemn before, and did not know how to response. I thought I better say yes and move on from this awkward situation, but alas my curiosity kicked in and I had to ask her why I shouldn’t go near them. She took her time(presumably to filter herself) and said “they are not nice people, and are very close-minded. They may issues with you(by “you”, I assume Asians)”.
Fast forward to last month, I suddenly recalled this fact in the middle of conversation with this newly transferred indian student, and told her the story and how absurd that was. She has the look of surprise for a sec, then said:” that is so interesting, I have the same experience” I instantly asked her for detail. Apparently she also stayed in Airbnb near Jewish street when she first came here, and the host also strictly warned her not to go near the street. She asked what was the reason, and then she told me that she noticed the host had hard time answering to it. After few seconds has passed he hesitantly answered “there are many kids there, you may get annoyed if you don’t like kids”. She said she did not buy that answer at all, and wondered what was that about ever since. I asked: “Do you think there is anti-Semitism going on in this city?” She answered:”yes, yes I do.”.
It was such an interesting interaction because both her and I, as POCs, did not experience any targeted racism first hand. We found this place to be an exceptionally tolerant city. However, on the other hand then both of us also collectively had this weird experience, and both of us got into the belief that there is anti semitism going on in the city.
I hesitant to write this part as it may sounds quite ignorant, but I do have hard time digesting the fact that (at least)some people here find Jewish, who I reckons to be white, less tolerable than us PoCs. Especially after all that horror went through in the last century, I thought people will offer much more tolerant view on them over the minorities.
Have any of you guys ever been to, or currently residing in Belgium? If so, have you had any experience that has resemblence to this?