The rabbi of Nord-Pas-de-Calais in northern France was violently attacked Thursday morning by a 20-year-old man while walking in the lanes of the Paris North train station.
Rabbi Elie Dahan said, “I arrived from Lille and was walking in the Paris station when the man, who was accompanied by a woman, looked at me and cried: dirty Jew, you are looking at me, I will punch you, dirty Jew," Dahan recounted. "He then punched me before running away.”
“My glasses were broken and my eye started bleeding. Several people try to catch my attacker but he escaped," said Dahan, who added that he was surprised by this attack. "I think the guy wanted to show off to his girlfriend. He saw my beard and hat, and told himself: here is a Jew to beat.”
The rabbi was taken to a nearby hospital after the incident. Police said the attacker could not be identified, but a “well-informed source” told the European Jewish Press that surveillance cameras in the train station had probably filmed the event.
Anti-Semitism on the Rise Worldwide, Especially in France
The Chief Rabbis of France and Norway have called on Jews not to step outside with obvious Jewish symbols, according to Professor Dina Porat, who authored a new study of worldwide anti-Semitism with Dr. Roni Stauber.
Both researchers are from the Tel Aviv University’s Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism.
The study, funded by the World Jewish Congress, noted a jump in the number of anti-Semitic incidents worldwide, a 31 percent increase over the statistics for the previous year.
According to figures released by the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF), the number of violent attacks against Jews in France rose by 45 percent in 2006.
There were 112 reports of assault, compared with 77 the year before, and the number of all anti-Semitic acts, including vandalism, rose from 124 to 213.
In French-speaking regions of Canada, the number of violent attacks against Jews last year also leaped to double that in 2005.
The worst incident was the murder last February of Ilan Halimi, who was tortured to death in France. The attack spurred other anti-Semitic incidents, as did the Second Lebanon War war against Hizbullah last summer.
There are approximately 600,000 Jews in France, which also has the largest European population of Muslims.
South Florida Follows Israel as a Haven for French Jews
Jews fleeing anti-Semitism in France are flocking to southern Florida, according to a report in the Miami Herald last month. Jewish organizations estimate that 2,000-4,000 French Jews live in the Miami-Dade County area.
"The general hostility of Muslims in France toward Jews, is...behind my decision to leave,'' Rod Kukurudz, who now lives with his wife and their three daughters in Surfside, Florida, told the paper.
"French Jews see the handwriting on the wall and say, `We're not going to wait until it's too late,' '' said Greater Miami Jewish Federation official Jacob Solomon.