"They yelled 'dirty Jew,' and cursed and spat on my son and his friends. A squabble ensued, but it appeared to be over after a few minutes. But 10 minutes later my son and two of his friends were surprised to see the same three young Arab accompanied by 10 other teenagers. This time they were armed with a hammer and metal objects." This is how David Azulay described the attack on his son Eli in the French city of Villeurbaine over the weekend.
Eli Azulay sustained injuries to his head and neck. One of his friend suffered lacerations to his forehead and ears, while another friend was injured in his shoulder. The three were treated at a local hospital but were released after a short time.
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Speaking to Ynet, the father said his son has recovered physically, "but psychologically he's weak, very frightened. When people attack you with a hammer – it's not an not an everyday occurrence. My son is 19, and his friends are about 20, and they are all afraid to leave the house. Eli isn't angry because it's not in his nature, but he's been very quiet since the incident."
David Azulay works at a local Jewish school that is run by Chabad. The school's principal, Rabbi Shmuel Gorvitch said he and some of the victims' relatives met with Villeurbaine's mayor on Monday. A local police representative and a government official also attended the meeting.
"They promised to do everything in their power to catch the assailants," the rabbi said.
David Azulay said the officials spoke "like politicians" and predicted that it would take some time before the assailants are apprehended.
"I'm not optimistic," he said, "I'm not afraid, but I don't think the situation will change."
French authorities were quick to condemn the attack, with French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault calling it "an unbearable act of violence.
"This attack… proves that we must constantly fight all forms of racism and anti-Semitism. We must do so using harsh measures, but also through education for tolerance," he said.
French Interior Minister Manuel Valls also denounced the attack, calling it "a deliberate attack against the republic."
Rabbi Gorvitch said Villeurbaine's Jewish community has been targeted before. "We are regularly cursed at and spat on." Just last month, he said, a youngster riding on a motorcycle fired rubber bullets at a car that was being driven by a man wearing a yarmulke.
"The car's window was open, and the (Jewish) man was hit by the bullets. Luckily, he was only lightly wounded," the rabbi told Ynet.
Azulay mentioned another incident in which a young Jewish man was attacked with a hammer. "Such incidents don’t happen every week, but a few times a year in a country such as France is a lot," he explained.
"This is the country of freedom and democracy, so these incidents should not occur so frequently."
As for the possibility of making aliyah, Azulay said "a similar problem exists in Israel, so moving there is not necessarily the solution. We face different enemies over the years, but the Jews continue to live."