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Sustained assault on 10 year old Jewish girl at her school: an indication of a wider malaise in French society?

At the beginning of October 2017, a ten year old Jewish girl was verbally abused and beaten up so badly by her classmates, for several days in a row, because she was Jewish, that she sustained injuries to her ribs and abdomen and had to be hospitalised.

The girl is French and attended a school in the 18th arrondissement in Paris, where most of her classmates were Muslim.

The girl’s mother, who wished to remain anonymous, said, One of the schoolboys, named Ishmael, beat her after saying ‘I do not love you because you are Jewish.’ The boy also told her: not to pronounce his name Ishmael, for it is the name of a prophet.”

The mother reported the incident to France’s antisemitism watchdog, the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Antisemitism (BNVCA). Paris’s Local Education Authority confirmed to the BNVCA that they would take the incident seriously, and would transfer the girl to a school of her choice.

According to an account on 6th October 2017 by Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the child’s mother added that the family had suffered a psychological shock and needed help. She said that her daughter had nightmares and was constantly afraid of being assaulted.

The CUFI article sets out what looks to be a pattern for the persecution of Jews in France:

  • An increasing number of Jewish families are moving their children from public (state) schools because of growing antisemitism from Muslims in state schools

  • In 1970 only 7,000 French children attended Jewish schools. Today, there are 35,000 Jewish children in Jewish schools in France. In addition, 35,000 Jewish children attend private Christian schools

We also learn that 40,000 French Jews have emigrated to Israel since 2006, and the exodus peaked after the attacks on Charlie Ebdo and Hyper Cacher supermarket. Approximately 10% to 35% had returned to France subsequently but it is believed that the attacks on French Jews since 2006 had acted as a catalyst.

It is suggested that there are parallels between the plight of French Jews and Jews in the UK as regards authorities’ apparent inability, (and what looks to be unwillingness in certain cases in the UK), to act to the full extent to protect their Jewish citizens from attack and punish the perpetrators of such attacks to the full extent of the law. Campaign Against Antisemitism’s latest research has shown that attacks on Jews and Jewish establishments are increasing but prosecutions are falling, and where perpetrators are prosecuted, the sentences handed down are so lenient as almost to be laughable.

At a micro level, the French 10 year old has had to leave the school whose staff had so consummately failed to keep her safe. Just last week, Everyday Antisemitism reported on a mob attack on a group of Jews who were leaving their Synagogue, the latest in a long line of examples of serious antisemitic violence. At a macro level, Jewish emigration from France is increasing, ostensibly for the same reason. Somehow, hatred of Jews has become acceptable in France and the UK to the extent that those whom Jews rely on to keep them safe seem to be almost incapable of doing so, therefore Jews are leaving.

What lessons can be learned from these events before it is too late?