Whereas 30 years ago the majority of French Jews enrolled their children in public schools, because of Muslim Jew-hatred and escalating Muslim violence against Jews in France, now only a third of them do so. The rest attend Jewish or private schools including Catholic and Protestant institutions.
JPost Stephane Tayar, a 43-year-old communications and computers specialist, says “Enrolling a Jewish kid into a public school was normal when I was growing up. Nowadays forget it, it is no longer realistically possible. Anti-Semitic bullying mainly by Muslims means it would be too damaging for any Jewish kid you put there.”
This common impression among Jews in France is responsible for the departure from public schools of tens of thousands of young French and Belgian Jews, who at a time of unprecedented sectarian tensions in their countries are being brought up in a far more insular fashion than previous generations.
Whereas 30 years ago the majority of French Jews enrolled their children in public schools, now only a third of them do so. The remaining two-thirds are divided equally between Jewish schools and private schools that are not Jewish, including Catholic and Protestant institutions, according to Francis Kalifat, the newly elected president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities.
The change has been especially dramatic in the Paris area, which is home to some 350,000 Jews, or an estimated 65 percent of French Jewry. “In the Paris region, there are virtually no more Jewish pupils attending public schools,” said Kalifat, attributing their absence to “a bad atmosphere of harassment, insults and assaults” against Jews because of their ethnicity, and to the simultaneous growth of the Jewish education system.
The increase in schoolyard anti-Semitism in France, first noted in an internal Education Ministry report in 2004, coincided with an increase in anti-Semitic incidents by Muslims overall. Prior to 2000, only a few dozen incidents were recorded annually in France. Since then, however, hundreds have been reported annually. Many attacks — and a majority of violent ones — are committed by Muslims, who target Jews as such or as payback for Israel.
Since a Muslim jihadist murdered three Jewish children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse, Jewish institutions across Europe and French Jewish schools especially have been protected by armed guards – most often soldiers toting automatic rifles.
In neighboring Belgium, the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism has documented multiple incidents that it said were rapidly making Belgian public schools “Jew-free.”
The atmosphere is pushing many French Jewish parents to leave for Israel, which is seeing record levels of immigration from France. Since 2012, 20,000 Jews have made the move, with 8.000 more expected to leave this year.