French Jewish teen assaulted while leaving synagogue

The boy had been at synagogue with his family when he was attacked while exiting the building.

March 2, 2018 16:47
2 minute read.
French police

French police officers [Illustrative]. (photo credit: REUTERS)

French police have arrested four teenagers who are suspected of attacking a Jewish boy as he left a synagogue in Montmagny, north of Paris, on Wednesday.

The alleged attackers, aged 14 and 15, surrounded the victim, 14, and punched him as he exited the synagogue. They broke his glasses and stole his kippa while shouting antisemitic remarks, including “Dirty Jews.”

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The assault took place during Purim, when the synagogue would have been filled with congregants. The boy’s brother and sister were reportedly with him at the time, though he left the building alone.

While the police originally characterized the assault as antisemitic, a judge ruled that it was not, according to the attackers’ lawyers.

Following the attack, Rene Taieb, president of the Jewish communities of the Val-d’Oise region where the attack took place, met with Frederic Potier, who oversees the French government’s Interministerial Delegation for the Fight Against Racism, Antisemitism and LGBT Hate. The two met to discuss a new government plan to combat such incidents. The plan will be unveiled during the government’s new National Education Week Against Racism and Antisemitism in March.

In an interview just after the assault, Potier told the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) that combating antisemitism “is a fight that must be carried out relentlessly” regardless of the forms in which it is manifested. He also said that while there will be no miraculous cessation of the phenomenon, he believes that the government and leaders have “the collective capacity to change the minds” of those who espouse antisemitism.

French MP Meyer Habib said in a statement Saturday night that he expects the authorities to take action against rising antisemitism in French suburbs. He noted that on Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron is scheduled to deliver a speech at the annual CRIF conference. “I certainly expect him to address this issue,” said Habib.

“Unfortunately, recently we have witnessed many cases of antisemitic attacks in France. The president and the prime minister responded to the recent cases with strong words, but after words, actions are needed, and that – we, unfortunately, have not seen yet,” Habib added.

“Hatred of Israel is the main engine of antisemitism today in France,” he continued. “Remember the demonstrations over [2014’s] Operation Protective Edge: It started with pro-Palestine messages and ended with cries of ‘Death to the Jews’ and attacks on synagogues in the heart of France, and these things seep into the streets and suburbs.”

The recent assault marks at least the third time a Jewish minor has been attacked in France since the beginning of 2018. In January, an eight-year-old boy was beaten in a Paris suburb. He was wearing a kippa at the time of the assault. Also in January, a 15-year-old Parisian girl’s face was slashed as she walked down the street. She was wearing the uniform of her Jewish high school.

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