Dramatic video footage has emerged showing French Jews clashing with Muslim extremists outside the Don Yitzchak Abarbanel Synagogue in eastern Paris on Sunday, after anti-Israel protesters violently attacked the synagogue and attempted to force their way in.
The attack left the Jewish community "shocked", one community member told Arutz Sheva, noting that even amid the current alarming levels of anti-Semitism in France such a mob attack on a synagogue had left people particularly shaken.
On Monday, Serge Ben Haim, one of the leaders of the Jewish community in Paris, told IDF Radio that the incident was reminiscent of Kristallnacht, and said that it was time for French leaders to start tackling anti-Semitism more seriously.
The video, which was uploaded Monday and is entitled "Pro-Israelis who break everything in front of the synagogue on Rue de la Roquette," illustrates how in the absence of an effective political response, young Jews are increasingly feeling forced to take matters into their own hands.
Young Jewish men can be seen wielding metal poles and chairs, and hurling chairs and other missiles at the Muslim extremists, who respond in kind. At one point, the Jewish group charges the anti-Israel crowd, forcing them back, but their attackers later regroup and in turn charge the apparently outnumbered Jews. One Jewish man can seen being badly beaten by the mob before police finally intervene to drive them away.
Commentors under the Youtube video claim the incident proves that Jews "provoked" the anti-Israel crowd into attacking the synagogue, but one community member said the video was misleading, comparing it to selectively-edited videos of IDF soldiers which show false evidence of Israeli "crimes" by excluding crucial context.
"What you have to understand is the background to this," said the witness, who asked to remain anonymous. "A synagogue in a different neighborhood of Paris was attacked the previous day at about 6 p.m., when it was still Shabbat, by a much smaller group a few dozen Muslims who hurled abuse and spat at worshippers. People are very afraid."
She said that the clash on Sunday actually began when the anti-Israel group attempted to storm the Don Yitzchak Abarbanel Synagogue, which at the time was hosting a rabbinical conference. She claimed that police were called but were very slow in responding, and only arrived in sufficient numbers to push back the protesters after the President of the French rabbinate made a direct phone call to French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who then contacted Paris's Chief of Police to dispatch sufficient forces to the synagogue.
A spokesman for the French Jewish Defense League - the Ligue de Defense Juive or LDJ - said that roughly 60 Jewish youths took part in the clashes, 50 of whom were LDJ members and the remaining 10 of whom were members of the Betar youth movement. He said that Jewish volunteer security guards outside the synagogue remained there and did not participate in the clashes themselves.
The spokesman also claimed that apart from police inaction there was a woeful lack of "even unarmed" security guards outside some Jewish institutions, and said that the incident illustrated the importance of Jewish schools and synagogues taking extra security precautions.
He said six police and three Betar members were injured in the clashes, but did not know how many anti-Israel rioters were injured. Seven Muslim extremists were arrested by police later in the week in connection to the incident, he added.