French Jews said to be pulling their kids from state schools

Anti-Semitic attacks soared in 2015 and expected to keep rising, says community leader

The head of the French Jewish community’s umbrella organization said many of France’s Jews question their children’s future in the country, and parents are pulling students out of state schools.

In an interview with Vice News published on Tuesday, the director general of CRIF, Robert Ejness, said anti-Semitic attacks spiked in 2015 and are expected to remain high in the coming year.

“The numbers for last year were very high, over 900 anti-Semitic attacks, and we believe this year will not be better,” Ejness said from the Le Marais neighborhood of Paris, a center of the Jewish community.

He said attacks ranged from insults or graffiti scrawled on buildings to physical violence.

French Jews, he said, “are very worried.”

“They are questioning the future of their children in this country, and this is an unstable situation that we have not known in the past,” he said.

In 1970, 7,000 French children attended Jewish schools, compared to 35,000 today. An equal number attend “Christian schools,” Ejness said.

But recently, increasing numbers of Jewish parents have been taking their children out of the public schools.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls addressed the issue earlier this month, saying he understands French Jews’ fear amid heightened religious tension in the country after attacks by Islamic extremists in Paris last year.

Valls expressed his “solidarity” toward French Jews and strongly condemned anti-Semitism, whether it comes from the “far-left” or the “far-right.”

“Yes, Jews of France are afraid to wear the kippa (the traditional skull cap), to go to the synagogue, to do shopping in a kosher market, to send their children to public school. That’s a reality, and a reality we do not accept,” Valls said at the annual dinner of the CRIF Jewish Council.

Ejness claimed the failed integration of many recent Muslim immigrants to France is behind the anti-Semitism.

“One of the issues is the integration of the Muslim population, essentially the Muslim population that has arrived in France in the last 20-30 years, that has not been integrated, which has refused also to be integrated into the French system,” he said.

“Even though the violent people are by far not the majority of the Muslim population — they are a very small part of the population — but a very small part is already many people,” he added.

Anti-Semitic acts in France have soared in recent years, increasing by 84 percent in the period between January 2015 and May 2015 compared with a year earlier, according to official statistics.

There have also been a series of attacks on French Jews, including a shooting at a kosher supermarket in Paris in January 2015 that killed four.

The attacks have driven a rise in immigration from France to Israel with a record of nearly 8,000 moving to the Jewish state last year, according to Jewish Agency figures.

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