Israeli student in Paris says he was beaten unconscious for speaking Hebrew

Victim describes being assaulted on city’s metro after unidentified suspects heard him talking on phone; Jewish MP calls for investigation

Illustrative: Police officers stand on patrol at a Metro station outside the Louvre museum in Paris, February 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Illustrative: Police officers stand on patrol at a Metro station outside the Louvre museum in Paris, February 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

An Israeli student said he was assaulted Monday in the Paris metro after he was heard speaking Hebrew.

France’s National Bureau of Vigilance Against anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, identified the student as B. Yogev, 30. It said he entered the train at the Château d’Eau station in Paris and answered a phone call from his father before he was accosted by two men, described as tall and of African origin.

One of those men attacked the student, striking him on the head, body and face. The student fainted on the floor of the train car, according to the report.

“They hit me a few times. My glasses broke and I lost consciousness,” the Israeli was quoted saying by the Ynet news site. “Luckily people helped me.”

The student, who was hospitalized for his injuries, said “it is clear to me they attacked me only because they heard I’m Israeli.”

He said he went to police after his release from the hospital but was told to return in six hours. He then reached out to Meir Habib, a prominent Jewish lawmaker in France’s National Assembly.

Habib said he asked the interior minister to immediately order a police investigation into the incident.

“This attack is another symptom of the new ‘daily’ anti-Semitism,” Habib said, according to Channel 12 news.

The incident comes amid a spate of anti-Semitic incidents in France, many of which were in the east of the country.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, center, followed by Strasbourg Chief Rabbi Harold Abraham Weill, second right, walk amid vandalized tombs in the Jewish cemetery of Westhoffen, west of the city of Strasbourg, eastern France, December 4, 2019. (Jean-Francois Badias/AP)

The recent surge in anti-Semitic violence and hate speech has prompted soul-searching for many in France, which has long wrestled with its history of discrimination and prejudice against Jews.

The number of anti-Jewish offenses reported to police rose to 541 last year from 311 in 2017, after falling for two years.

The lower house of France’s parliament last week approved a draft resolution that calls hate of Israel a form of anti-Semitism, drawing praise from Jerusalem and Jewish groups. The 577 members of the National Assembly voted on the draft, which also calls on the government to join other European nations in adopting the definition of anti-Semitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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