Influential French Jews met with the country’s education minister about changing an unpopular approach to teaching the Holocaust to fifth-graders.
Holocaust survivor Simone Veil and Serge Klarsfeld, the president of the Association for Sons and Daughters of the Jewish Deportees of France, were among those who met Wednesday with Xavier Darcos in an effort to redraft President Nicolas Sarkozy’s proposal to have 10- and 11-year-olds adopt the name of a child killed during the Holocaust.
The plan has been intensely criticized. Following Sarkozy’s announcement earlier this month, 85 percent of those surveyed in an Ifop poll “disapproved” of the proposal. Veil had denounced it for being too heavy a burden for young children, while Klarsfeld supported the idea.
Though maintaining that Sarkozy “will not back down” from his plan, which is scheduled to launch in September, government officials have responded consistently to criticism by offering the alternative option of pairing an entire classroom rather than individuals with a child victim.
On Feb. 18, Darcos made that option seem more like the only one available one when he said, “We’re going to move things a little bit, so that it will be a class rather that will adopt a child.”
The education minister’s committee is charged with coming up with a new proposal that is “admissible, educational and not traumatizing,” Darcos said.