Video surfaces at sensitive time for French Jews; family of Jeremy Cohen demands authorities treat case as antisemitic hate crime.
By Pesach Benson, United With Israel
Video footage has surfaced suggesting that Jeremy Cohen — a French Jew who was run over by a tram in a Paris suburb in February — was fleeing a group of Muslims who attacked him.
His family is now demanding that authorities who re-opened the investigation treat the case as an antisemitic hate crime.
Cohen was run over on the night of February 16 in the Paris suburb of Bobigny. Police believed Cohen was killed by accident and reported the 31-year-old’s death as “pedestrian run over.”
The video’s existence was first reported by Radio Shalom in France. Filmed by a hand-held phone from above the street, the footage shows Cohen getting into altercation with a group of people and running into the street.
The moment of impact is not seen, but the aftermath is.
Cohen’s kippah made him identifiably Jewish, the family told the French-Jewish newspaper Tribune Juive.
Prosecutors have reopened their investigation. But in a worrying sign to French Jews, authorities have not acknowledged the possibility of antisemitism being a factor.
Adding to the case’s sensitivity, the video came to light on April 4, the anniversary of the 2017 murder of Sarah Halimi, which was mishandled by French authorities.
Halimi, a 65-year-old a retired doctor and schoolteacher was brutally killed her neighbor, Kobili Traore. The son of immigrants from Mali, Traore broke into Halimi’s Paris apartment and beat her up while yelling “Allahu akbar,” “I have killed the Satan,” and Koranic verses. He then threw Halimi’s body off her third-floor balcony to the street below.
It took French authorities three months to acknowledge the attack as antisemitic. A court found that Traore had antisemitic motivations but also ruled that because he had used marijuana, he was not responsible for his actions. Traore, who has never been tried for Halimi’s death, is currently being held in a psychiatric facility.
A parliamentary committee investigating the affair raised further questions in January about decisions made by the police, the psychiatrists and the judiciary.
The Bobigny video also comes days ahead of France’s first round of presidential elections, scheduled for April 10. Two right-wing candidates vying for Jewish votes, Éric Zemmour and Marine LePen, sharply criticized the police for downplaying the attack’s antisemitism.
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