Nidra Poller’s account:EASY PREY IN PARIS
PJM in SeattleNovember 25, 2006
The “Celebrations”In which a French policeman protects a Jewish fan of Israeli soccer team assaulted by Paris St. Germain hooligans. Score: 1 dead, 1 critically injured. National state of anti-Semitic denial continues in France unabated.PJM’s Paris editor Nidra Poller’s continuing coverage of events in France. 24 November 2006The news broke with typical French fuzziness: a plainclothes policeman, who came to the rescue of an Israeli pursued by 150 enraged Paris St. Germain fans, fired into the crowd killing one assailant and critically wounding another. The incident occurred after the Hapoel Tel Aviv soccer team beat Paris St. Germain 4 to 2 at the Parc des Princes stadium near the bois de Boulogne. The first image that came to mind was punk jihadis—the kind who burn buses and smash policemen’s heads, and may also be PSG fans—hot on the heels of an Israeli, breathing smoke and lusting for blood. And finally a policeman does the sensible thing, and shoots before getting his head bashed in. But now what? Won’t the banlieue explode before midnight? This is the incident they all dreaded.Then the first details squeezed through the tight net that separates a radio broadcast from The Facts: in fact, the bad guys are hooligans from the notorious Kop de Boulogne section of the stands (the punk jihadis occupy the “Auteuil” section at the opposite side of the stadium). Skinheads, racists, high voltage trouble makers, many of them affiliated with the unsavory Front National. By midday TV newsrooms had pulled up archive footage of previous exploits too numerous to mention. Typical hooligan stuff. Plus a new incident that occurred this morning when about forty of the same stripe turned up at the Camp des Loges where the team was training. An official came out to “dialogue” with them (you know, that is the French solution for all the world’s ills) and they attacked him and whoever else they could punch or kick, including journalists and cameramen, before they were subdued. Were they arrested? Come to think of it, I don’t know. Probably not. One of the punchers was a husky black guy. You’ll soon see why I mention this un-PC fact.The plainclothes policeman who protected the Hapoel TA fan is a French Caribbean, Antoine Granomort. He is presently in police custody, as are five of the hooligans, accused of various charges including racist and anti-Semitic insults. It looks like the policeman will be acquitted on grounds of self defense. But who knows, he might fall into the hands of a judge who has used up his leniency on head-busting racaille and decides to crack down on a “trigger-happy” policeman. Like the French Ministress of Defense who wants to shoot down Israel airplanes flying over Lebanon.The dead fan, 25 year-old Julien Quemener, and the injured fan, 25 year-old Mounir Bouchaer, were both known as “card-carrying” members of the “Boulogne Boys.” The latest reports say the policeman only fired one shot; the bullet went through Bouchaer’s chest, piercing a lung, and straight into the heart of Quemener. Which would tend to confirm the policeman’s declaration, that he fired upward at a sixty-degree angle, aiming at someone who was about fifty centimeters to a meter away from him…After carefully gathering and crosschecking every available scrap of information, this is the closest I can get to an accurate account of the chain of events.Yanniv Hazout—Israeli or more likely a Jewish Frenchman carrying or wrapped tifosi-style in an Israeli flag—was leaving the stadium with four or five friends when a gang of about 150 men described as PSG fans started to chase them. (This was the clue I missed before my morning coffee; the gang was never described as “youths.”) Philippe Broussard of l’Express, former sports journalist and expert on hooliganism, who witnessed the attack, describes the crowd as an extremely violent dangerous horde, shouting racist and anti-Semitic insults. One source claims that Yanniv and his friends decided to break up…but I find that hard to believe. I’ll have to wait until the Jewish media get the full story on that. Yanniv was alone when Broussard saw the policeman trying to protect him, telling him “stay behind me, stay behind me.” Someone else describes Yanniv pulling the policeman’s sleeve, trying to guide him over to a McDonald’s on the far side of Porte St. Cloud Square.Granomort, who is assigned to the transport brigade, was not on duty at the stadium that night. One report says he was watching over the parked police cars. Hopefully he will tell his side of the story when he is released from police custody. Knowing what we know of people battered senseless or kicked to death, of policemen ambushed, attacked with iron bars, getting their heads smashed, we can measure the courage of Antoine Granomort who risked his life to protect a young man bearing an Israeli flag in Paris in this day and age.He could have left Yanniv to his sorry fate. No one would have blamed him. Who would have even known there was a plainclothes policeman in the vicinity?Granomort tried to hold the attackers off with tear gas. He emptied his canister. They advanced, undaunted. They knocked him down, or he tripped and fell. He was kicked in the head and groin. Did he get up, or shoot from the ground at someone who was about to kick him senseless? No reliable eyewitness testimony has been made public on that detail. He says he warned them that he was a policeman. Then fired one shot.He and his protégé ran into the Macdonald’s on the other side of Porte St. Cloud Square. The enraged mob followed them. Smashed the windows. The policeman, the Hapoel fan, and a few customers ran to the second floor of the restaurant.Broussard speculates that the mob didn’t come into the restaurant because they were afraid they would be trapped inside. Maybe, maybe not. Were they actually thinking anything? They shouted racist and anti-Semitic insults. Granomort called for help with his walky-talky. Someone said “he’s a cop.” Does this mean they didn’t know before? It’s hard to describe the words and deeds of a mob, even if you are on the scene. Did they all belong to the Kop de Boulogne? Did they know someone had been shot, did they hear Granomort say “Police! Stand back!”? Some of them smashed the windows of the Mcdonald’s and some pasted Front National Jeunesse stickers on what was left of them. And one, shown only from feet to shoulders, gave his version to a TV reporter. He said “we,” not “the horde,” and made “us” sound far too reasonable to be true.Tonight a small crowd gathered outside the Parc des Princes stadium to honor the fallen fans. Quenemer’s best friend looked right into the camera, all pain and loss and crying for justice. Justice, unfortunately, may well be more of the same stomping, smashing, thrashing.Claude Barouch, president of the UPJF (Union des patrons et professionnels juifs de France) was at the stadium last night. Of course. He was surprised by the low level of security for a high risk game. Fifteen thousand Jewish fans of an Israeli team. No frisking, no ID control. Député Claude Goasguen drafted a bill last year to combat violence in stadiums. He would like to see it strictly enforced. Interior Minister Sarkozy promised results. The president of PSG, sitting in front of a red background printed with alternating Nike swishes and “Fly Emirates,” made an empty non-committal statement at a brief press conference. He would like this problem to disappear and leave the box office in peace. But something tells me this is one more ongoing thing that is going to just keep going on.And the French are always bad mouthing Americans. We’re the brutes, the gunslingers, the world class stompers. Michael Ledeen told me last spring that he bought season tickets to the baseball games. Good family fun. People of all sorts and stations in life, peaceably assembled.What did Paris do to deserve this inopportune clash of civilizations?UPDATE 25 NovemberOk, now we have all done some in-depth investigations. I’ll begin with my own. Eyewitness—a young security guard in front of a synagogue Saturday morning. Of course he had seen the PSG-Hapoel game. The atmosphere was okay during the game…there were so many Jews. But when we came out of the stadium they were harassing us, roughing us up, calling us “sales feujs” [dirty kikes], taunting, “Where are your flags, huh? Afraid to show them now?” It was going on all over the place. The CRS [riot police] just stood there and watched.He saw the beginnings of the incident at Porte St. Cloud…and didn’t linger. There were no problems in the metro because there were so many transportation security police. He wonders…if Hapoel had lost the game would the PSG fans have been so aggressive?Interviewed by the AFP, Patrick Bittan, martial arts instructor at the GIGN [elite commando force of the Gendarmerie] gives a more dramatic description of Jews forced to pass through tightly structured gauntlets. “They asked if we were Jewish, or just said ‘Jew’ to see how we reacted, they looked in people’s bags to see if they had an Israeli flag, something Jewish. I saw two or three guys really get hit.”The missing link. And yet it’s so obvious. Of course it was not one incident, not one or even five Hapoel fans, it was Jews in general who were hassled. Libération reports that the kops of Boulogne, who usually pick fights with the banlieusards of the Auteil tribune, forgot their rivalry and went after the Jews. Rumors had circulated that the Betar and the Jewish Defense League were going to arrive in force. Yeah, sure. That’s what the K tribe said when they marched into the Jewish quarter in paramilitary formation. So the skinheads and the punk jihadis had to rough up Jews to prevent a Betar-JDL massacre?Yanniv Hazout was interviewed on TV. All they showed was his jeans and shoes—Nikes or Adidas, I couldn’t tell. He expressed his gratitude to the policeman who rescued him. Just looking at his shoes you could tell the young man was still in shock from his brush with death. Hazout says Granomort shouted loud and clear that he was a policeman, and ordered the mob to back off. He showed his gun. Someone mocked him, “it’s not a real gun.” They thought they had easy prey, a jackpot, a Black and a Jew. Granomort warned several times before shooting.The mother of Julien Quenemer, who worked as a home appliance technician, swears that he was not a hooligan, didn’t pick fights. Mounir, of Moroccan origin, had moved from Paris to the provinces. A friend says he wasn’t violent. It was a mob, and whoever got shot it wasn’t someone in the fifty-fifth row who just happened to be passing by. All kinds of nice kids from decent families who got good grades in school burned cars and attacked policeman last November.Countless eyewitnesses quoted in the media today concur. It was a savage horde, they were out of control, they shouted “dirty Nigger, dirty Kike, we’re going to kill you.” Some reports say they also shouted “Le Pen for president.” I don’t know why that seems comical. One young man explained that the PSG fans weren’t really out to do a pogrom on Jews, they were just fed up because the team lost but, he added, there was an undercurrent because of the “extreme right, and sympathy for the Palestinian cause.”Interior Minister Sarkozy met with all concerned parties this morning and solemnly swore to impose draconian measures on soccer clubs and their fans. In case of non compliance, they will play to empty stadiums.Ségolène Royal said “Amen.”And Antoine Granomort, presented to the court as a material witness (and not charged with involuntary manslaughter as originally expected), has just been exonerated on the grounds of self-defense and released.The PSG fans who threw punches yesterday at their team’s training camp, left a graffiti on the wall, promising that justice will be done. Their idea of justice is what we would call revenge. Will they now accept the verdict of the court? Or will our hero, Granomort, have to face that mob again, and again?