Threats and violence as antisemitism on rise in France
A FRENCH former headteacher has admitted advising a Jewish pupil to attend a private school for his own safety in a shocking example of the rising tide of antisemitism in France.
The revelation emerged in a book co-authored by the retired teacher Bernard Ravet and Emmanuel Davindenkoff, a Le Monde journalist.
In an interview for L’Express newspaper, Mr Ravet recalled how he asked his counterpart at a private Jewish school called Yavneh in Marseille to accept an Israeli boy who had hoped to enrol at his school, Versaille. He told the newspaper he “knew the boy would get beaten to a pulp” as soon as the other students discovered his background.
“Hiding my embarrassment, I asked the mother whether she had considered enrolling her boy at Yavneh,” he said. When the mother replied that the Jewish school was full, Mr Ravet intervened and managed to get the boy accepted, he told L’Express.
Mr Ravet said a journalist had previously interviewed children at his school and asked if there were any Jewish pupils there. Mr Ravet said he had “a chill down my back” when he heard one reply: “If there are, then they have to hide it.”
Only a third of Jewish pupils now attend public schools in France — compared with three decades ago when the majority did. The rest attend either Jewish or private schools, according to Francis Kalifat, the president of the CRIF Jewish umbrella group in France.
In an interview with JTA last year, Mr Kalifat said: “In the Paris region, there are virtually no more Jewish pupils attending public schools.” He blamed the trend on “a bad atmosphere of harassment, insults and assaults” against Jewish pupils, as well as the growth of the Jewish education system.
In the same week as the revelations emerged, a family was beaten and robbed in their home near Paris because they were Jewish, French authorities said.
Attackers entered the home of Roger Pinto, the 78-year-old head of Siona, an association “defending the Jewish people and the state of Israel”, his wife and his son, according to Mr Pinto’s lawyer, Marc Bensimon. They cut off the electricity before holding three members of the Jewish family hostage and threatening to kill them. Mr Pinto was kicked several times in the head, Mr Bensimon said, and the assailants made off with jewellery, cash and credit cards.
One of the victims managed to escape and alert the police, according to antisemitism watchdog BNVCA, as authorities and anti-hate groups confirmed the family were targeted because of their religion.
According to a BNVCA statement, the attackers told the victims: “You are Jews, you have money. We take money from Jews to give to the poor.”
Drawing a link between the Paris attack and the Marseille school story, the European Jewish Congress (EJC) called for stronger measures to be taken by French authorities on “societal antisemitism and its passive acceptance”.
Moshe Kantor, President of the EJC, said: “Parts of French society are becoming increasingly antisemitic on the one hand, and this hate towards Jews is being accepted and tolerated by other parts.”
Victims told: ‘You are Jews, you have money’
Israeli Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman has become an advocate for medicinal cannabis