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Jewish man stabbed in Zurich in suspected antisemitic attack

An Orthodox Jewish man was stabbed in a suspected antisemitic hate crime in the Selnau area of Zurich, Switzerland shortly after Shabbat ended on Saturday evening, according to the Zurich canton police.

A 15-year-old Swiss assailant stabbed a 50-year-old Orthodox Jew, critically wounding him. The wounded man was hospitalized, and the assailant was arrested at the scene of the alleged crime. Police had come to the scene after initial reports that there was an argument between several people.

The police said that they have opened an investigation, and have included the possibility that the incident was an antisemitic crime.

The Blick news site reported that one eyewitness said that “the perpetrator laughed when he was arrested.” Some initial reports indicated that the assailant yelled “death to the Jews” or “death to Israel” during the attack. Police are calling on witnesses to come forward.

Jewish community reviewing security arrangements

The Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG) stated that the Jewish community’s security arrangements were being reviewed after the attack, though, “It is assumed that no further threat to Jewish people and institutions is expected at the moment. Nevertheless, all members of the Jewish community are called upon to behave cautiously and prudently until further notice.”

Synagogue in Zurich (credit: Ikiwans/Wikimedia Commons)

“The SIG is deeply shocked that a community member fell victim to such an attack. Physical attacks on Jewish people in Switzerland are very rare. The Jewish community has been spared from such life-threatening attacks for the past two decades. However, there has been a significant increase in such physical attacks since October 7th,” added the federation. “The SIG’s thoughts are with the victim and his relatives. We pray for a full and speedy recovery.”

European Jewish organizations condemned the attack, citing reports that the attacker had shouted antisemitic and anti-Israel slogans before and during the assault.

“There’s a disturbing trend of leveraging the Palestinian cause as justification for targeting Jews,” said the European Jewish Congress.

The Conference of European Rabbis said that the incident was further evidence of the growing threat of rising antisemitism since the October 7 massacre.  

Conference of European Rabbis president Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, who was born and raised in Zurich, said that authorities needed to investigate possible sources of incitement in the alleged attacker’s community.

“A fifteen-year-old boy should not rise in the middle of the day and take a knife from the kitchen to kill a passing Jewish person,” said Goldschmidt. “This is a glaring warning to European leaders. We must increase monitoring of incitement centers wherever they may be.” 

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