(JTA) – A Jewish family has its dog to thank for their escape from a fire that police believe was set intentionally in their Paris-area home, an anti-racism group said. The family was awakened after midnight Friday night, Nov. 3, by the dog’s insistent barking to discover that their front door was on fire, with smoke rapidly filling up the interior of their apartment in the southeastern suburb of Creteil. Someone had doused the door in a highly flammable liquid at set it alight, police concluded. The family told police they suspected an Arab neighbor, who has expressed extremist and antisemitic views online. Police detained the neighbor in connection with the incident. Last week, an unidentified person set the family’s car on fire.
In 2014, Creteil saw an antisemitic incident that horrified many French Jews, in which three men broke into a Jewish family’s home because they assumed they would have money due to their ethnicity. Encountering a young couple inside the home, one armed suspect guarded the woman’s boyfriend and another took his credit card to a cash machine while a third raped the woman. The victims said the assailants insulted them with antisemitic slurs.
Coming amid a major increase in antisemitic violence in France, the incident echoed for many the traumatic murder and torture in 2006 of Ilan Halimi, a Jewish phone salesman who was abducted by a gang led by a career criminal with a history of targeting mostly Jewish victims. Earlier this year, Sarah Halimi, a physician and kindergarten teacher, was murdered inside her home by an Islamist neighbor whom prosecutors say was motivated by antisemitic hatred. She was not a relative of Ilan Halimi. The unprecedented wave of violence against Jews in France and Belgium has seen more than 12 people die since 2012 in at least three jihadist attacks on Jewish targets.