by Cynthia Blank
Witnesses at a cafe in Brussels say EU labor union head tried to choke woman while asserting 'Hitler should have exterminated all Jews.'
The assault, in full view of other restaurant patrons, occurred on the patio of the "Italiano" cafe near European Union headquarters in the city, Haaretz reports.
A 50-year old Italian woman - a department head at the European Council - saw a man at the cafe holding a metal plaque engraved with "Mussolini" and praising the World War II-era Italian fascist leader.
She apparently infuriated the man by informing him that "he [Mussolini] was still a dictator," to which the man replied: "Dirty Jewess … Hitler should have exterminated all Jews, just like Jews today are exterminating Palestinians."
According to the woman's complaint, the encounter quickly turned violent with the man then hitting her on the head with the metal plaque, slapping her and grabbing her throat in an effort to choke her.
When other people at the cafe got up to stop him, he resisted, shouting, "All you Jews should have been killed."
Several visitors in the cafe recognized the attacker as Stefan Gersh, a Maltese EU official and the president of the EU labor union Generation 2004, and gave the woman his name.
Although not Jewish, she rushed to the police to lodge a complaint and also turned to Joel Rubinfeld, president of the Belgian League against Anti-Semitism (LBCA), who launched his own probe into the attack.
Based on Belgian's laws against racism, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, LBCA also filed an official complaint against Gersh.
“This serious incident illustrates yet again that you don’t have to be Jewish in order to be a victim of anti-Semitism," Rubinfeld told Haaretz on Wednesday.
"In light of the multiple witness accounts, I’m sure that the ones responsible at the European Union will take the right steps, including firing the assailant. In the meantime we have demanded that he be suspended until the end of the investigation.”
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