By Ben Cohen
A Jewish couple in Paris was assaulted and robbed in their own home earlier this week, a Jewish communal security organization confirmed on Thursday, raising the concern that the attack was the latest in a series of “home invasions” targeting Jews.
In a statement, the BNVCA — an antisemitism monitoring agency based in the French capital — said that it condemned the “violent assault suffered by a Jewish couple Shalom H., at their home in Aubervilliers, on Monday, April 22 at 10 PM.” The agency said that the four hooded assailants had “probably” targeted the couple because of the traditional Jewish mezuzah affixed to their front door.
The couple themselves were reported to be badly traumatized following the attack, during which they were both beaten, subjected to death threats and then robbed of 5,000 euros in cash along with various items of jewelry.
Located in the Seine-Saint-Denis area to the northeast of Paris, Aubervilliers is one of several economically-deprived suburbs where a previously significant Jewish population has dramatically declined in number, as residents facing antisemitism on a daily basis have moved to other parts of the city or made aliyah to Israel.
According to French polling expert Jerome Fourquet, “over the last fifteen years, [the size of the Jewish community] has collapsed in a series of municipalities in Seine-Saint-Denis,” in many cases from over 500 families to less than 100. Approximately 40 percent of the area’s residents are Muslims, mainly of North African background.
The BNVCA said it was calling on local police to identify and prosecute the perpetrators of Monday’s attack. “Once again, the myth of the Jews and their money leads evildoers to prefer Jews when choosing a target,” the agency stated.
For more than a year, a broader pattern of “attacking Jews as close as possible to their homes” had become visible, the BNVCA added.
The exodus of French Jews from neighborhoods plagued by antisemitism was highlighted in the speech given by Francis Kalifat — the president of French Jewish communal body CRIF — to his organization’s annual dinner in February.
Speaking to an audience that included French President Emmanuel Macron, Kalifat noted the release of government statistics that showed a 74-percent rise in the number of antisemitic attacks in France over the previous year.
“In 2018 as in previous years, French Jews were insulted, harassed, threatened, robbed, assaulted or beaten because they were Jews,” he said.
“Who are their aggressors?” Kalifat continued. “Too often, young Muslims.”
Speaking to the same gathering, Macron declared that “France must draw new red lines [against antisemitism] and we will do so.”