Jewish teen, woman lightly wounded in Paris-region anti-Semitic attacks

A Jewish boy and a woman were assaulted in separate anti-Semitic incidents in the Paris region.

The incident involving the woman occurred on May 13 on a street in Sarcelles, an impoverished northern suburb of the French capital where some 60,000 Jews live in close proximity to many Muslim immigrants from the Middle East and Africa.

The woman was lightly injured by three African women who assaulted her because she complained to them about the behavior of children, whom the Jewish woman thought belonged to at least one of the African women, the National Bureau for Vigilance Agaisnt Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, wrote in a report published Friday. The children, the report said, had hurled a soccer ball at the daughter of the Jewish woman, identified in the report only as L.D.

As they were allegedly assaulting the woman, witnesses heard the African women shouting anti-Semitic remarks, including “Hitler didn’t finish the job” and a statement about Jews being “a filthy race,” according to the report. “You need some more beatings,” one of the women also said.

Police were called to the scene and the alleged victim filed a criminal complaint for assault. She was also treated in the hospital for her injuries, which required several days of recovery.

“Increasingly, banal conflicts involving Jews degenerate into anti-Semitic incidents and assaults,” BNVCA wrote in its statement, which urged police to “get to the bottom of what happened.”

Separately, on Friday, four unidentified young men assaulted a 16-year-old Jewish male who was wearing kippah as the alleged victim was leaving his home in central Paris, according to a BNVCA report. The perpetrators stole the teen’s cellphone and hit him in the eye.

The perpetrators, aged 17 to 20, had an Arab appearance, the report said. A fifth individual, also of Middle Eastern descent, approached the scene and encouraged the perpetrators to “break” the victim, whom he called a coward.

The beating stopped when an Asian woman intervened and threatened to call the police. The victim filed a complaint after being treated for minor to moderate injuries connected to his emergency eye surgery at Rothschild Hospital.

Paris-area mayor: Burning car by synagogue unrelated to Charlie Hebdo attack

A car that caught fire outside a synagogue near the site of the deadly attack on the Paris headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine was not related to the attack, the mayor of a Paris suburb said.

Mayor Francois Pupponi of Sarcelles, a heavily Jewish suburb of Paris, said the fire that erupted Wednesday afternoon was “accidental.” Some reports said the car caught fire due to a mechanical error.

The French news website JSSNews reported and posted photos showing that the car was located directly in front of the Synagogue of Garges-Les-Gonesse in an area where cars are not permitted to park.

In July, the synagogue was attacked during a pro-Palestinian rally in reaction to Israel’s military operation in Gaza.

The attack on Charlie Hebdo left at least 12 dead and 10 injured, including five seriously.

Wanna kill me? Take a number

My friend Alain Azria gave me a puzzled look when I told him, with some indignation and disbelief in my voice, that I had just heard talk of killing Jews at an unauthorized anti-Israel demonstration last month in Paris.

A young black man with a Parisian accent told a dozen friends loudly, but without shouting, “OK, guys. Let’s go hunt some Jews.”

His friend answered, “Let’s break their heads.” To which the first speaker replied, “Catch them fast, kill them slow.”

The group blended into a mass of thousands of people who were marching toward the Gare du Nord train station while shouting slogans accusing Israel of genocide.

My shock stemmed from the fact that while anti-Semitic violence accounts for a fair share of my reporting here in Europe, I have personally been insulated from it — perhaps because I live in Holland, where such occurrences are rarer, or maybe because I had lived most of my life in Israel, where one receives only a theoretical understanding of the phenomenon.

But for Alain, a freelance news photographer who specializes in documenting France’s anti-Semitism problem, this was just another day at the office. Which is to say he didn’t really have time for my astonished discovery of the banal.

“OK, OK, welcome to Paris. Now let’s move it along,” he said as he took us on a shortcut designed to reach the station before the procession.

Over the course of the following fortnight, as Israel’s fight against Hamas in Gaza continued to fan the already considerable flames of anti-Semitic violence and incitement across the continent, I would come to better understand Alain’s apparent nonchalance at the hate fest he was documenting.

This understanding came through frequent visits to Paris — including the scene of one attempted pogrom — and discussions with professed anti-Semites there. But it also grew out of observing unprecedented phenomena gripping the area around my own home in The Hague that the Dutch media have dubbed “the Sharia triangle.”

Shocked by how acceptable anti-Semitism has become in France, I was glad to be back home in the Netherlands, a country where I chose to settle in part because of its strong tradition of tolerance. But in Schilderswijk, my neighborhood of The Hague where roughly half the population is Muslim, hundreds demonstrated three times since July 7 at rallies that featured flags of the ISIS terrorist group and calls to slaughter the Jews. On Sunday, the protesters were back on the street, hurling stones at police.

Central to my understanding of the banalization of anti-Semitic violence in Europe were the July 20 riots in Sarcelles, a northern suburb of Paris with many Muslims but with a Jewish population large enough to earn it the nickname of “little Jerusalem.”

There I saw riot police fending off a predominantly Arab mob that, unable to reach the main local synagogue, had smashed the windows of Jewish and non-Jewish businesses while chanting “death to the Jews” in Arabic and French. The avenue leading to the synagogue was shrouded in a cloud of tear gas and black smoke that rose from several fires that crackled on the asphalt and tram tracks. Nearby, rioters hurled a firebomb at a synagogue, resulting in little damage. It was the ninth assault on a French synagogue since July 8, when Israel’s military operation against Hamas began.

The temporary breakdown of the rule of law may seem strange to many Americans, but it is normal in France, where police often opt to contain rather than bust illegal behavior by Arabs from the suburbs of large cities — to “let sleeping dogs lie,” as Sammy Ghozlan, a French former police commissioner and founder of the National Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, told me.

“We call these areas ‘the lost territories’ because they are no-go areas for police, who fear the escalation of a minor incident into a repeat of the 2005 riots,” he said. “You have such areas in Israel, too,” he reminded me.

More than the breakdown of public order, I was surprised by the drilled response of local Jews. Within minutes of the eruption of the riots in Sarcelles, 100 of them gathered with baseball bats and other weapons. Surrounding the besieged synagogue, they started singing the French anthem. I asked several of them when they began relying on their own strength for their defense. The older ones said it has been like this for many years. The teenagers added, “Since forever.”

Stuck at the train station of Sarcelles — the riots disrupted train traffic, and taxi drivers generally avoid the area after dark — I overheard an Algerian man explaining to a Congolese woman that it was the Jews of Sarcelles who struck first.

“Like always, first they attack or steal or kill, then they bring the media to lie about it,” said the man, who identified himself to me as Mohammed abu-Chaich, a security guard at Charles de Gaulle Airport. “I hate Jews, I’m not ashamed to say it.

“They initiated the war in Algeria just to kill Arabs,” abu-Chaich, who is in his 40s, told me of his country’s civil war, waged by Islamists. “Hitler killed them for similar reasons,” he added loudly as others around him nodded approvingly.

Feeling sad from my conversation with abu-Chaich (I didn’t tell him I was Jewish), I went into a Cameroonian restaurant for dinner. It wasn’t long before I ended up chatting with some of the patrons about Africa — a continent where I have worked and which I love. Ten minutes into the conversation, two of my interlocutors invited me to stay with them during my next visit to Yaounde.

I was feeling tipsy from the cheap banana beer and happy to have my new Cameroonian friends restore my faith in mankind when one of them began speaking hopefully of the bright future that lay ahead for his country when it finally taps its massive reserves of liquid gas.

“It will be heaven,” he said. “I just hope the Jews don’t take it away from us like they did in Germany before Hitler used that gas to kill them.”