Anti-Semitism at schools a major aliyah factor, French Jewish leader says


(JTA) — Rampant anti-Semitism in French public schools and threats against Jewish ones are spurring Jewish emigration, a leader of French Jewry said.

“The atmosphere for Jews in France is pretty bad,” said Roger Cukierman, president of the CRIF federation of French Jewish communities.

The choice for parents, he added,” is either to send children to public schools, where they may be beaten and insulted [for being Jews] or to send them to Jewish schools, where they may be targets for fanatics and murderers. This is why we see more and more people deciding to go to Israel.”

Cukierman’s comments were made Thursday in a conference call with members of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations, an umbrella group representing 50 national Jewish organizations in the United States. On Jan. 9, four Jews were killed at a kosher supermarket near Paris.

Christian private schools are emerging as a preferred choice for many Jewish parents, according to Cukierman.

He estimated that one-third of French Jewish parents send their children to public schools, and that of the French Jews who leave, about two-thirds go to Israel.

Immigration to Israel by Jews, or aliyah, from France in 2014 stood at approximately 7,000 people — nearly four times the number of Jews who made aliyah in 2012.

Cukierman also spoke of mixed feelings regarding the deployment of 10,000 French troops around Jewish schools and institutions following the attack.

“On the one hand, we are satisfied with that, on the other, imagine children seeing in front of the school army personnel with machine guns and imagine the parents when they have to think that they are leaving their children in a situation which may become dangerous,” he said.

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