Outrage in France over plan to delete 'Shoah'

By Michel Zlotowski, September 8, 2011

Film director and writer Claude Lanzmann has attacked the French Education Ministry for planning to "delete" the word "Shoah" from school textbooks.

Mr Lanzmann argued in a recent article for Le Monde that some at the ministry were trying to challenge the uniqueness of the Jewish genocide and give it the same historical status as the Allied bombing of German cities.

Mr Lanzmann claimed to have seen a circular published by the ministry stressing the need to stop the word "Shoah" from being used in French classrooms.

In an attempt to defuse an ongoing row, French Minister of Education Luc Chatel published an article in Le Monde to "reassure Lanzmann that no instruction was ever issued to the history teachers to ban the term 'Shoah' from our classrooms."

Mr Lanzmann and Richard Prasquier, President of CRIF, the umbrella body of French Jewry, met Mr Chatel so that he could clarify the situation.

Mr Prasquier said: "Indeed, some officials at the Ministry of Education in charge of the history curriculum in secondary schools are opposed to the use of the term 'Shoah'."

Mr Prasquier added that, according to those officials, Jews are using the uniqueness of the Shoah to achieve Zionist aims, hence the term had to be banned from schools. He added: "Others claim that 'Shoah' should be banned because it is a Jewish religious concept. This is nonsense. 'Shoah' means disaster, while 'Holocaust' has a very clear religious connotation; it means a propitiatory sacrifice offered to God.

"We see clearly the purpose of this controversy, which is led by teachers. They are not deniers of the Shoah, they want to reduce it to the rank of other 20th-century massacres to establish equivalence between the Shoah and the plight of the Palestinians."

Last updated: 12:31pm, September 8 2011