Jewish community uneasy following rabbi's murder

Werner Rom (right), pictured with Alfred Donath, president of the Jewish community federation, fears the attack was fuelled by anti-semitism Keystone Archive

The killing of an Orthodox Jew in Zurich 10 days ago has stirred up fears among the city's Jewish community, who suspect the attack was motivated by anti-semitism.

This content was published on June 18, 2001 minutes

Although police say there is no evidence the crime was motivated by racial hatred, Zurich's Jews have their doubts. The president of the city's Jewish community, Werner Rom, says people are worried because Abraham Greenbaum was clearly recognisable as an orthodox Jew.

"We cannot exclude an anti-semitic attack," Rom told swissinfo, adding that in recent years there had been four similar attacks on Jews, two of them fatal.

Rom also pointed to the fact that robbery could not have been a motive for the killing, because Greenbaum was carrying a large sum of money, which was not taken by his attacker.

According to police reports, the 70-year-old former rabbi had just left a synagogue in Zurich's Jewish district when he was shot dead by a young man. Greenbaum's son, Mordehai, said he could see no reason why has father should have been targeted, except for the fact that he was a Jew.

"That's why he was killed - there can be no other explanation," he told the Israeli newspaper, the "Jerusalem Post".

Another motive put forward for the attack is anger at the current violence in Israel, and the failure to agree peace terms with the Palestinians.

Rom told swissinfo that it was possible that the Jewish community was being held responsible for Israel's actions, but he said anti-Israeli sentiment was more commonly expressed in attacks on synagogues or Jewish institutions.

"Jews are made responsible for actions or non-actions in Israel," he said. "Israel is the focus of Jewish life..."

Zurich police were quick to apprehend a suspect in the killing, but released the man last week saying he had no connection with the crime. Since then there has apparently been no breakthrough in the investigation.

Despite the police's failure to find the killer, Rom says the Jewish community has not lost faith that an arrest will be made.

"We have full faith in the authorities," he said. But he added: "As long as we do not know who the attacker is and what the motives of the attacker are... the uneasiness will continue."


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