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March 8, 2016 6:38 pm

French Leader Decries Attacks on Jewish Schoolchildren as Police Search for Assailant Who Targeted 13-Year-Old Boy on Way to Synagogue

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CRIF President Roger Cukierman. Photo: EJP.

CRIF President Roger Cukierman. Photo: EJP.

The leader of France’s Jewish community denounced what he called the “unbearable” situation of children victimized by antisemitism, the European Jewish Press (EJP) reported.

Roger Cukierman expressed concern about Jewish kids “suffering physical and verbal abuse at public schools” during a radio interview on Monday, ahead of the annual dinner of CRIF, the umbrella organization for French Jewry over which he presides.

This is the reason, Cukierman told Europe 1, that “today, only one third of Jewish children go to the secular schools; and two thirds attend either Jewish or Christian private schools.”

Cukierman’s statement came on the heels of Saturday afternoon’s violent attack in Paris against a 13-year-old boy wearing a kippah, the EJP reported.

According to the report, the boy was walking to meet his father at synagogue, when three youths, whom he later described as of “African origin,” shouted “dirty Jew” at him before pulling off his skullcap, grabbing him by the hair and ramming his head into a pole.

The boy, who suffered bruises to his face, joined his father and then filed a complaint with police against his assailants, who purportedly fled the scene at the first sight of passersby.

In response to this incident, said EJP, the Bureau National de Vigilance Contre l’Antisemitisme (the National Bureau of Vigilance Against Antisemitism or BNCVA) condemned the incident and called on law enforcement to make every effort to investigate it and apprehend the perpetrators of the “anti-Jewish aggression.”

The BNCVA also stressed that Jews who wish to wear their kippot in public should not “give in to intimidation,” stating that it is those who commit acts of hatred and discrimination against Jews who should be “worried, condemned and neutralized.”

At the CRIF dinner on Monday evening, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls – stepping in for President Francois Hollande, who had to bow out due to his presence at the EU-Turkey summit in Brussels on the migration crisis – denounced antisemitism from “the extreme Right and far-Left,” while responding to the spate of attacks on Jews in the country and indirectly discussing the wave of immigration to Israel.

“Yes, the Jews of France are too often afraid – to wear a kippah, to go to the synagogue, to go shopping in the kosher shops, send their children to public school. We don’t accept this reality,” Valls said. “There is antisemitism and anti-Zionism, which is simply synonymous with antisemitism and hatred of Israel. The Jews of France have built France and they must continue to build it; and at the same time I know the solidarity that binds you to Israel. Israel is a democracy, a nation that speaks to the world, and France will always be by its side.”

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