Jewish pupil advised against French public school for 'own safety'

Headmaster feared that the boy would be 'beaten to a pulp'


A French former head teacher has admitted that he advised a Jewish pupil to attend a private school for his own safety.

In a shocking example of the rising tide of antisemitism across the Channel, a new book reveals that the then school principal stepped in to ensure the child was accepted at a Jewish school.

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.

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