Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday phoned an Israeli student who said he was assaulted in Paris, apparently for speaking Hebrew.
The Israeli, who has been identified as Yogev, told the prime minister he was sending his dad a voice message as he boarded the Paris Metro, when he was attacked.
“I can’t think of any other reasons besides the Hebrew language,” Yogev can be heard saying on speakerphone in a video released by Netanyahu.
Yogev recalled losing consciousness and being hospitalized following the assault. He has filed a complaint over the attack with French police.
“The police officers, I must say, are very surprised. They don’t understand why a prime minister and member of parliament are calling me. To them this is a normal incident,” he said.
In response, Netanyahu said, “To us this is not a normal incident and we are not prepared to accept it.”
The prime minister wished Yogev a speedy recovery, “both physically and mentally,” and told him he could call at any time.
On his Twitter account, Netanyahu wrote the incident “appears to be an anti-Semitic act.”
“We’ll do everything to fight any expression of violence and anti-Semitism,” he said.
תקיפת הסטודנט הישראלי בצרפת | חבר הפרלמנט הצרפתי מאיר חביב כתב בפייסבוק: "התקיפה הזו היא סימפטום לאנטישמיות החדשה והאולטרה-אלימה שמשתוללת בשכונות על רקע האיסלאמיזם, שנאת ישראל ותיאוריות הקונספירציה. אין הוכחה טובה מזו שאנטי-ציונות היא האנטישמיות החדשה"@yoavz pic.twitter.com/epKY9sDE8j
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) December 10, 2019
According to France’s National Bureau of Vigilance Against anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, Yogev was accosted by two males, one of whom struck him on the head, body and face, causing him to faint.
“They hit me a few times. My glasses broke and I lost consciousness,” he was quoted saying by the Ynet news site. “Luckily people helped me.”
He added: “It is clear to me they attacked me only because they heard I’m Israeli.”
Yogev said after his release from the hospital, he went to police to file a complaint but was told to return in six hours. He then reached out to Meir Habib, a prominent Jewish lawmaker in France’s National Assembly, who 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.
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.