90-Year-Old Jewish Man Pushed Out of Building, Killed in France

May 24, 2022
Municipal police car in Lyon, France, 2013. Photo by zhukovsky/Deposit Photos

A 90-year-old Jewish man was reportedly killed after his neighbor allegedly pushed him out of their building.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) and Israel Hayom reported that the victim, identified as René Hadjaj, was pushed from the 17th floor of his building on May 21. Police arrested the suspect, 51-year-old Rachid Kheniche, on May 24. Authorities have ruled out antisemitism as a motive, as they believe the killing resulted from an unrelated conflict between the two neighbors. Hadjaj was reportedly wearing a kippah at the time of his death.

However, Stop Antisemitism claimed to have uncovered “troubling antisemitic tweets” from Kheniche, where he purportedly went “on a rant regarding [French presidential candidate Marine] Le Pen’s appearance on an Israeli magazine cover and claims her mother is Jewish.”

Former New York Democratic Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who heads the Americans Against Antisemitism watchdog, tweeted that the suspected killer “was already known to police & many previous threats were ignored!”

Both JTA and Israel Hayom noted that the French Jewish community has drawn comparisons between Hadjaj’s killing and the killing of Sarah Halimi in 2017. Halimi, who was 65 at the time of her death, was also thrown out of her building. French courts ruled that Halimi’s suspected killer, Kobili Traore, was unfit to stand trial because he frequently smoked marijuana. Traore allegedly shouted “Allahu Akbar!” and “I have killed the [demon]!” after Halimi was thrown out of the building.

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