The mother of two Jewish brothers, who are recovering after being severely beaten last Motzoei Shabbos outside of a Paris shul, told The Algemeiner on Thursday that her family isn’t fearful.
“We are not afraid, we are not scared and we’re going to get back on our feet and stay strong,” said the mother, who asked to remain anonymous. “We don’t want to give the feeling to people that we feel weak or anything. However, we are worried, we are concerned about what’s going on.”
“The fact is that the climate is very bad, very scary, and that there is an increase in small or verbal attacks currently and recently,” she said.
“Although it’s very sad that we had to go through this and experience this, we know that G0d is protecting us and watching over us, and we need to focus on how to progress, and how to move forward and continue to do what we have to do.”
Her sons, aged 18 and 21, were heading to Chaare Tsion Synaogue, in Créteil, when they were beaten with brass knuckles by two attackers who later fled on foot and by bicycle. The brothers suffered multiple contusions and were hospitalized in serious, but not life-threatening, condition.
The youngest testified anonymously on BFM TV, saying, “We were trying to walk down the street with our kippot [skullcaps]. Two Maghreb [men] came and beat us. They started by my brother with brass knuckles, scarred him all over the face and beat me.”
Their mother said she was “very troubled and very much overwhelmed” when she first heard about the brutal assault her sons faced in Créteil, home to one of the biggest Jewish communities in Paris. She is now hoping to find a positive aspect to their painful experience that may benefit the rest of the Jewish community. “I’m trying to strengthen myself by saying there must be something good that will come out of this for the Jewish people,” she said.
The brothers’ lawyer, Maitre Severine Benayoun, told The Algemeiner that the attack left them “very badly harmed, physically.”
“They are a very good Jewish family,” the lawyer said. “They are very shocked to go through what they are going through now. Emotionally, it has very much shaken them.”
The eldest brother was released from hospital after being treated for a fracture near his eye, though no surgery was needed, Benayoun told The Algemeiner. He will visit an eye doctor in the coming days, his mother said.
“He’s going to try to see again because he couldn’t see anything before because the fracture was so big. It’s still very painful and it’s still very hard for him when he eats,” she said. “He’s still in shock. He doesn’t talk a lot.”
The younger brother has already returned to school, his mother said.
When asked if she thinks the assault was anti-Semitic, Benayoun said, “totally, it’s obvious.”
“There is an interview of the younger brother and he disclosed what happened: they came, they did not say anything, they tapped him on the shoulder, and punched him on the face right away and they started fighting. There was nothing happening beforehand between all of them,” Benayoun explained.
“It’s not like they [tried to] steal something from them. Steal their cell phone or their wallet or something. They were walking, somebody came to them, attacked them and left,” the lawyer said.
An investigation into the incident and the hunt for the perpetrators is ongoing. Benayoun said the local authorities’ concern was heightened as the attack happened almost simultaneously to the fatal shooting at the Jewish Museum of Belgium where four died, including two Israelis.
The boys’ mother commended officials for their work and said authorities are performing their duties objectively. While the French government recognized Saturday’s assault as anti-Semitic, Benayoun believes stronger legislative measures should be taken to fight such attacks.
“These kinds of anti-Semitic attacks or infractions should be more strictly sanctioned and punished,” she said. “This is what can stop them for continuing what they’re doing.”