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Israeli Filmmaker Attacked at French Festival

Yariv Horowitz was reportedly beaten just before winning best film award

Adam Chandler
March 28, 2013
Scene from Horowitz's 'Rock the Casbah'(Berlinale)
Scene from Horowitz's 'Rock the Casbah'(Berlinale)

Another potentially stunning turn in the life of Jews in France: Just moments after Israeli filmmaker Yariv Horowitz screened his film Rock the Casbah about the First Intifada at the French Film Festival, he was reportedly attacked and beaten unconscious by a gang of Arab teens.

The director lost consciousness and was treated at the festival. After recovering from the blows he received, he returned to the festival area in “good condition”.

After the violent incident, Horowitz’s film won the Special Prize of the Jury for Best Picture. Israeli singer and musician Assaf Amdursky also received an award for a movie he wrote music.

A few weeks ago, we wrote about the controversial, but seemingly undeniable exodus of the Jewish community from France, which has been happening quietly and consistently over the course of the past decade. Last year’s statistics also cited a alarming 58% increase in anti-Semitic attacks in France, including a shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse.

This latest incident though, which we’ll have more about as details emerge, seems particularly brazen. To have an Israeli filmmaker assaulted while attending a film festival where he wins a prize is something you’d be hard-pressed to believe, even if you saw it on film.

Update #1, March 30: Doubts are reportedly now being cast on Horowitz’s account of his attack at the Aubagne International Film Festival. In an unconfirmed statement, festival general manager Gaëlle Rodeville was said to have asked Horowitz to retract his story. There are also said to be videos of what is being characterized as a minor incident involving Horowitz, but those videos have yet to be released. We’ll know more later.

Update #2, April 2: More reports contradict the Commentator‘s original story and Horowitz’s account in Haaretz. While Horowitz was indeed attacked, it was apparently by one person, whose identity remains unknown. Horowitz stands by his story while Gaëlle Rodeville has continued to ask him to retract it. According to the JTA, Richard Prasquier, the head of the French-Jewish umbrella organization, has weighed in saying “there is no evidence to suggest the attack was anti-Semitic. Claiming this is irresponsible.”

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.