‘Dirty Jew, We’ll Kill You!’: Latest Victim of Antisemitic Violence in France Describes Harrowing Ordeal
The Jewish man who was brutally assaulted in Paris last week by two men yelling antisemitic abuse described the ordeal in a graphic account carried by a French newspaper on Tuesday.
Speaking to Le Parisien, the victim — named only as David S. — recalled last Thursday’s attack, during which he was strangled, beaten and left for dead by his assailants. The attack occurred in the apartment building where his parents reside in the 19th arrondissement of the French capital.
“The images keep coming back to me, again and again,” David said. “They used me as a punching bag. I asked myself, is it possible, in 2020, to be beaten up like that simply because you are Jewish?”
29-year-old David, who was wearing his kippah when he was attacked, explained that he had arrived at his parents building on Rue Archereau last Thursday to collect his 7-month-old daughter. While he was tapping the door code to enter the building, the assailants — described as two well-dressed black males in their 20s — hurried in behind him as the door opened. They then rode with David in the elevator, launching their attack when they arrived at his parents’ floor.
Screaming epithets and threats that included “Dirty Jew!”, “Dirty son of a whore!”, “Dirty race!” and “You’re a dead man, we’ll kill you!”, the two men leapt on top of David.
“One was strangling me while the other was punching me,” David recounted. “Then they opened the fire escape door and threw me down the stairs. I was lying at the bottom, on the ground. They followed to beat me up and to rip my watch off my wrist and strangle me again.”
David said he believed momentarily that he would die. “You have no strength left,” he said. “You’re not breathing. You just want it to end.”
Beaten unconscious, David was discovered a few minutes later by his father, who had opened his apartment door to see his sons’ belongings scattered along the floor leading to the fire escape.
The family immediately called the local police station to no avail. According the National Bureau for Vigilance and Countering Antisemitism (BNVCA), a group that advocates for victims of antisemitic violence and has become a civil party in David’s case, the police told the family that no officer was available because of a separate “emergency” that was being dealt with in the locality.
David eventually filed a complaint with the police in the neighborhood of Val-de-Marne, where he himself lives. He said he was reassured by an officer he spoke with that the two assailants had been caught on security cameras and would be found. He is now in recovery, having suffered severe bruising, a broken tooth and a damaged eye alongside strangulation.
The assailants also made sure to steal his Rolex watch.
Several French politicians condemned the attack on David, among them Laëtitia Avia, who represents Paris in the French parliament and who has campaigned for tougher measures to combat racism and antisemitism online.
“All my support David, courage,” Avia declared on Twitter.
Former Prime Minister Manuel Valls — who has frequently spoken out against the rising antisemitism in France — also voiced solidarity with David and his family.
“Each antisemitic act is a defeat for the Republic,” Valls said.
Francis Kalifat — the president of French-Jewish representative organization CRIF — placed in the attack upon David in the context of continuing violence against French Jews. During the last three years, two elderly Jewish women — Sarah Halimi and Mireille Knoll — have been murdered in antisemitic attacks, while 2019 registered a 53-percent increase in violence targeting Jews.
“Is another murder of a Jew necessary before serious and effective measures are taken? Words are no longer enough,” Kalifat protested.
In a letter to French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s director for international relations, Shimon Samuels, said that “the French Jewish community has three needs: Security, Security and Security.”
A survey of antisemitism in France published by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in January found that nearly one quarter of the country’s 500,000 Jews had been subjected to at least one violent antisemitic assault in their lifetimes.