PARIS – “I saw the fear in their [the congregation’s] eyes,” Aurelie A., a young Jewish woman, wrote in a blog on Tuesday, referring the attack by a mob on the Synagogue de la Roquette in Paris two days earlier.
Anti-Israel protesters surrounded the shul, which is also called the Synagogue Don Isaac Abravanel, trapping the worshipers inside and fighting with security personnel.
The rioters, who had broken off from a larger anti-Israel protest, were kept from entering by men from SPCJ (the Jewish community protection service), LDJ (the Jewish Defense League) and the Betar youth movement, who fought the attackers, in what turned into a street brawl. Three Jews ended in the hospital, according to another witness, Jewish press photographer Alain Azria.
Another Jewish journalist, Daniel Bensoussan, told The Jerusalem Post that the demonstration on Sunday, and others on Saturday, was organized by the far-left New Anticapitalist Party. Thousands of people – leftists and Muslims from the suburbs, among them many veiled young women – marched in the streets of the capital screaming: “Allahu akbar! We all are Palestinians! Israel murderer!” Bensoussan said.
One of them, Amid Hamadouch, 30, said he came “to say no to the massacre.” He was distributing leaflets: “Boycott Israel, the racist state.”
The demonstrators had come to Rue de la Roquette, near Place de la Bastille, to oppose a larger rally for Israel and for peace. Why did police ignore warnings about a possible clash, Jews asked later.
Aurelie A. belongs to a Jewish group, Collectif Haverim, and published her story in its blog, CH: “I had all the time the feeling of being in danger, because of my origins, the ambient fear of a new oppressor...
I was on my way to the synagogue... The corner of the street and Place de la Bastille was blocked by police... I saw black flags at another corner, with white Arabic writings, keffiyehs, Palestinian Authority flags... the crowd shouting: Death to Jews! My blood froze...
“In my car, Radio J [a Jewish station] was collecting funds for residents of southern Israel under the slogan: Am Israel Hai! In front of the synagogue, some 30 demonstrators fighting with police and our forces... I am pushed by a CRS [riot policeman] into the synagogue,” Aurelie A. wrote.
“Inside I see my uncle and CH members. The president of the Consistoire [the body governing the congregation] Serge Benaim wants to speak, but nobody listens, everyone is worrying, old people are afraid, women are crying.
“I think about Jabotinsky who used to call on Jews to learn to defend themselves.
And indeed, our Iron Dome is made of the militants of SPCJ, LDJ and Betar who push away the attackers. I light a candle for the soldiers and civilians of Israel. I saw the fear in the eyes of everyone.
Group by group, we are finally evacuated. Since the [German] Occupation, we never went through such misfortune.
“I told my father, who experienced this already, “but only in Algeria,” where he was born... “Yesterday a part of my love for France went away.
Yesterday, I was afraid, but hopefully only afraid.”