update deskAntisemitism

Arabs attack grandmother of Israeli lawmaker in Paris suburb

MK Sharren Haskel accused the French government of failing to protect the country's Jewish community from violence.

MK Sharren Haskel attends a debate at the Knesset in Jerusalem, June 28, 2023. Photo by Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90.
MK Sharren Haskel attends a debate at the Knesset in Jerusalem, June 28, 2023. Photo by Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90.

The grandmother of Israeli opposition lawmaker Sharren Haskel (New Hope) was the victim of an antisemitic assault by “Arab thugs” outside Paris, the Knesset member told JNS on Thursday.

“After Oct. 7, there has been an explosion of antisemitism, targeting and attacking the Jews, resulting in physical attacks, death and rape of Jews in France,” Haskel told JNS, confirming a report by Israel’s Kan News public broadcaster on the incident, which took place earlier this week.

Two Arabs attacked the 88-year-old victim after she left her home in Val-d’Oise, just north of Paris, for a doctor’s visit, according to the report.

One of the assailants reportedly punched Haskel’s grandmother in the face, breaking her teeth and knocking her to the ground. After the fall, one of them was said to have continued to kick her in the back while shouting, “Dirty Jew, dirty old lady, this is what you deserve.”

Haskel told JNS, “She tried to hide it from my family because she was embarrassed and ashamed, but she couldn’t. It could have ended far worse. Today, she went to the hospital to be examined as part of her filing a complaint with the police.”

French authorities confirmed to Kan that a probe had been opened into the attack. In the complaint, the victim noted, “I think they saw my Star of David necklace, otherwise they wouldn’t know.” She had to seek medical attention for pain in her back, knees, shoulder and right wrist.

“I have no hope in the French authorities for treatment,” the younger Haskel wrote in a post on X on Wednesday, charging that the government led by French President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling Renaissance Party “allows blood libels to be spread against Israel, and as a result, the Jewish community suffers from violence, rape, murder.

“The Israeli government must lead the fight against the explosion of antisemitism,” Haskel said. “Jewish communities around the world are inseparable from us, and we have a great responsibility towards them.”

The center-right lawmaker called on all Diaspora Jews, including her grandmother, to return to the Jewish people’s “national, cultural and historical” homeland, writing, “We have one home.”

In an op-ed published on the French website Causeur on Wednesday, Haskel said the time had come to “demand an end to the state-run anti-Israeli propaganda—led by Agence France Presse and the French public media—that has fueled this growing antisemitism.”

In the piece, she alleged the Arab attack on her grandmother was “covered up to avoid boosting [Marine Le Pen’s] National Rally during election time and to play into the hands of the current government, which is now allied with the worst antisemites of the [far-left] LFI [La France Insoumise, or ‘France Unbowed’].”

France’s far-right topped the country’s first round of legislative elections on Sunday for the first time, with the National Rally winning about one-third of the vote. Finishing second was the left-wing coalition, New Popular Front, which includes LFI, with 27.99% of the vote.

The decisive second round will take place on Sunday.

“I am being very cautious about the recent election,” Haskel told JNS. “I see how the far-left is actually spreading antisemitic discourse and hatred towards Jews and Israel. It is very difficult for me to know how the National Rally will approach situations like that, but I have a great hope that at least to start they’ll try to combat it.

“What I really know is that there has to be radical change in France to make sure minorities are protected,” she said. “We need action to deter Islamist radicals attacking Jews, to put them behind bars and make sure this never happens to anyone’s grandmother—ever.”

The National Rally has endeavored to reach out to Jewish voters. In a June op-ed in Le Figaro, Le Pen, in the wake of the rape of a Jewish girl, excoriated the left and Macron’s party for allowing Jew-hatred to fester in France.

“The latest act to date, the appalling rape of this 12-year-old girl because she is Jewish, stirs my heart and should revolt the whole of France,” Le Pen wrote, adding that an attack on Jews is an attack on all French.

Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli (Likud) said on Monday that if Le Pen were to be elected president of France, “In my eyes, this is good for the State of Israel with 10 exclamation marks.”

While Macron has condemned antisemitism, he has often taken a critical stance towards the Jewish state’s war against Hamas. In March, he said that the transfer of Gazans from Rafah to humanitarian zones ahead of the Israeli military operation in the city would constitute a “war crime.”

In November, he claimed in an interview that Israel was killing women and children. “De facto—today civilians are being bombed. These babies, these women, these old people are being bombed and killed. So there is no reason for it and no legitimacy,” the French leader said.

The remarks drew condemnation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that Macron “made a serious mistake, factually and morally” and that “the responsibility for any harm to civilians lies with Hamas-ISIS and not with Israel.”

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