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France: Jewish man beaten by attackers shouting “dirty Jew”

A 30 year-old Jewish man, who was walking home from work, was beaten by a group of men on a street in Creteil, France, a suburb south of Paris.

Despite the fact that one of the attackers called the victim an antisemitic slur, a “dirty Jew”, the police have not classified the incident as an antisemitic attack, the local judiciary police have opened up an investigation and are currently trying to determine if the crime was motivated by antisemitism.

The crime occurred in the courthouse neighbourhood, an area that Jewish businesses helped develop. Petty criminals are known to frequent the area.

Haaretz reported that when the police showed the victim 120 photographs of local criminals, he was able to recognize one of his attackers. The Haaretz article also revealed that “police believe the same local thug attacked a non-Jewish man on the same day.”

Albert Elharrar, the leader of the Creteil Jewish community, told the press that “the local thugs” assaulted the victim, a father, who was “returning home from work”. The perpetrators “hit” [the victim] “from behind” and “threw him on the ground and beat him”.

Elharrar told Le Parisien that “the victim was brave enough to hit one of his aggressors back, which allowed him to try to escape, but they caught him.”

Creteil, which is the home to approximately 22,000 Jews, is one of France’s largest Jewish communities  As reported in Haaretz, Elharrar believes that, despite this attack, Creteil is a “safe” city for Jews. “This is a place where different communities live side by side”.

However, in the past three years, there has beenan antisemitic robbery and a rape, which motivated several Jewish families from Creteil to move to Israel. But Elharrar thinks that “it’s not because of Creteil itself, but [because of] the feeling of insecurity in France altogether”.

According to French Jewish leaders, antisemitism stills threatens the safety of Jews. In 2015, there were 808 assaults on Jews, a record high, which caused many French Jews to leave the country. But despite a 61% reduction of hate crimes against Jews in France in 2016, the Jewish community remains vigilant.

Therefore, it is of great concern that the Jewish man, who was attacked in Creteil, was called a “dirty Jew”. As Elharrar pointed out in the Haaretz article:”he wasn’t wearing any distinctive sign”, like a Jewish skull cap, that would have “identified him as Jewish”.

Unfortunately, there is not enough evidence, at this point in time, to determine if the attackers marked the victim as a Jew because they saw him  enter a synagogue, or a kosher supermarket. However, the fact that there was no obvious way to identify the man as Jewish opens up the disturbing possibility that the attackers could have been searching for victims in the Jewish community. The police must conclude their investigation before it is known if the attacker intentionally tracked the victim, in order to commit an antisemitic crime.