'Silent Attacks': French Jews Fear New Form of anti-Semitic Assaults

No more shouts of 'dirty Jew': Latest attack of 8-year-old Jewish boy near Paris was carried out in silence, leading to a potentially more lenient punishment

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Police officers stand guard in front of the Sarcelles synagogue in Sarcelles, north of Paris, on July 21, 2014.
Police officers stand guard in front of the Sarcelles synagogue in Sarcelles, north of Paris, on July 21, 2014.Credit: AP
Shlomo Papirblat
Shlomo Papirblat

A Jewish boy of 8, wearing a kippa, was attacked this week on a street in the suburb of Sarcelles, near Paris. The assailants knocked the boy to the ground and beat him, all the while maintaining strict silence – a new tactic becoming increasingly common in anti-Semitic attacks.

These “silent attacks” are apparently intended to avoid severe punishment, as the police treat general attacks more leniently than attacks accompanied by anti-Semitic taunts.

The district’s police said on Tuesday that “at this stage the investigation is conducted on the assumption that the attack was motivated by anti-Semitism.”

Shouts of “dirty Jew” and similar utterances, which characterized attacks on Jews in the past, have recently been replaced with silence, making it more difficult for the police to determine that the assailants chose their victim because of his kippa or Jewish appearance.

The 8-year-old boy, who was on his way to enrichment lessons at school in the early evening wearing a kippa, ritual fringes under his shirt and long sidelocks, said he was attacked by black youths of 15-16, whom he did not know. He managed to escape eventually and hid under a parked car.

About three weeks ago a Jewish high school girl was similarly attacked by an unknown assailant in Sarcelles and Jewish businesses were also attacked. The town has a large Jewish population. Joel Margi, president of the Consistoire, the umbrella organization of Jewish congregations in France, spoke to the media in recent days of an “outburst of anti-Semitism,” and called on the authorities to stop the deterioration.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Wednesday that France is facing a "new form of anti-Semitism" marked by violence, deploring an assault of the 8-year-old boy.

To fight something, one must have "the courage to put a name on it ... to acknowledge that, yes, there is a new form of anti-Semitism, violent and brutal, emerging more and more openly in our land," Philippe said.

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed anger at the attack and denounced it on his Twitter account. “An eight-year-old boy was attacked today in Sarcelles. Because he was wearing a kippah. Every time that a citizen is attacked because of their age, their appearance or their religion, it is an attack on the whole country. “And it’s the whole country that must rise up today alongside French Jews to fight with them against these disgusting attacks,” the post said.

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