Fearing Hate Crimes, French Principal Says He Kept Jewish Students Away from His School

A former French school principal from the city of Marseille has revealed the depth of anti-Semitism in public schools, saying that he regularly warned Jewish students not to attend his institution because for fear of hate crimes.

His comments come at a time when the number of Jews attending public school in France has dropped significantly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported Sunday. Whereas 30 years ago the majority of Jewish children were enrolled in public institutions, now only a third are. The remaining two-thirds are divided equally between Jewish schools and private schools that are not Jewish, including Catholic and Protestant institutions.

The retired principal, Bernard Ravet, spoke about his experience in a newly published book that he co-authored together with Emmanuel Davindenkoff, a Le Monde journalist.

In an interview with a French newspaper, Ravet revealed what he replied to a colleague from a private Jewish school in Marseille when he was asked to accept an Israeli boy whose mother wanted him to attend Ravet’s school.

It was clear that “the boy would get beat to a pulp” as soon as other students would find out that he was an Israeli Jew, Ravet said. He added, “hiding my embarrassment, I asked the mother whether she had considered enrolling her boy at Yavneh,” a Jewish school in Marseille.

After he was informed by the mother that Yavneh was full, Ravet personally intervened and got the boy accepted because he could not guarantee his safety in the public institution that he worked for.

Ravet first realized that his school had turned into a no-go zone for Jews, when during a radio interview, one of his student said about Jewish children at the school that “if there are [any]), then they have to hide it.” Ravet said the comment sent “a chill down my back.”

According to the retired principal, Jews are not the only minority group persecuted at his school. He also discovered Islamist verses that preached violence against homosexuals and the mutilation of thieves.

His co-author Davindenkoff told JTA on Thursday that it was a shocking “failure” of the education system that Jewish children can no longer attend public school in safety.

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,” Francis Kalifat, the president of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions, told JTA last year, attributing their absence to “a bad atmosphere of harassment, insults and assaults” because of their ethnicity.

Meanwhile, France’s Interior Minister strongly condemned an anti-Semitic hate crime in Paris that took place last Thursday, in which three Jews were tied up, beaten and robbed. Ben Cohen reported in The Algemeiner that the perpetrators told their victims, “you are Jews, you have money.”

At a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Nazi deportation of Jews from Paris in July, French President Emmanuel Macron vowed, “we will not surrender to anti-Zionism, because it is a reinvention of anti-Semitism.”

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