French Jews are increasingly avoiding public schools, the leader of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF) stated Tuesday – amid skyrocketing anti-Semitism and major waves of French Jewish Aliyah.
"The numbers for this year were very high, over 900 anti-semitic attacks, and we do not expect this year to be any better," CRIF head Robert Ejness stated to VICE News, noting the situation is "unstable."
The result: French Jews have increasingly pulled away from the public school system, he said. Five times as many French Jewish children attend day schools in 2016 than in 1970, with 35,000 French Jewish children now in Jewish schools; 35,000 are also in Christian schools.
The statistics follow numerous reports of discrimination against Jewish students in public schools, including one incident in which Jewish students were ordered to wear red discs during lunch hour. Meanwhile, French Jewish schools remain isolated in their own right – with schools heavily guarded and under strict security measures to prevent attacks.
Ejness cited the rise of France's Muslim population, which "refuse[s] to be integrated in the French system," for the pull away from public education.
"Even though the violent people are, by far, not the majority of the Muslim population […] a very small part is already many people," Ejness added. The French Muslim community currently numbers about 5-6 million — roughly 10% of the national population.
Ejness's account of French Jewish isolation surfaces after both a spike in anti-Semitic activity in France and a record-setting year for French Aliyah.
Officials predict that French Aliyah will exceed 10,000 in 2016, breaking last year’s record of 7,900. As of January 2016 there some 500,000 Jews remaining in France.