Principals of Jewish schools in France are urging their students to move to Israel due to the increasing amount of anti-Semitic attacks in the country, Ynet reported on Sunday.
"I think all Jews should move to Israel," Paul Fittousi, the director of Yavne School in Marseille said. "France is not our place anymore. The younger generation must do this. Two of my daughters have already moved and are learning in Be'er Sheva, and I'm encouraging my third to do the same."
It's not just the principals who feel that France isn't safe for Jews anymore - the students feel it too.
Yoav Zanuv, a student at Akiva School in Strasbourg, an area that has been particularly plagued with multiple anti-Semitic attacks lately, said that he doesn't always feel safe in France. "Because of the Muslims, there are neighborhoods you can't enter with a kippah [skullcap]," he said.
Lena Salem, a 17-year-old from Marseille, says she "hides her star of David necklace and other Jewish markers. I don't want to be the religious Jewish girl who gets attacked on the Metro or in one of bad neighborhoods. I always carry a can of pepper spray with me."
"When I saw the desecration of the Jewish cemetery, I thought I have no place to call my own other than Israel," Salem added.
Fitoussi said that he doesn't allow his students to "eat or have gym lessons outside of the school. More than once someone has thrown stones at students or called them 'dirty Jews'. Nowadays, France's Jewish community lives in a ghetto. If you're in the Jewish area of town, you're all good. But if you walk out a little bit – you might get it."
"Although it might sound strange, to us the fact that we are encouraging people to move to Israel is completely natural," said Yoni Elimelech, deputy headmaster of Otzar Ha'Torah school in Paris' 13th arrondissement. "I think any 18-year-old boy or girl living in France should move to Israel."
Moshe Twito, another principal of a Jewish school, said that a few of his students were attacked outside during a gym class.
"Several young people walked up to them, one them holding a knife and stabbed a student who has since migrated to Israel. There are many students who transferred to us from other public schools because of anti-Semitism. My project is to make sure that all my students emigrate to Israel."
Fitoussi, Twito and Elimelech are currently on a trip to Israel as part of the "Bac Bleu Blanc" program in which hundreds of Jewish high school seniors from France visit Israel. In the course of their visit, they are exposed to the academic settings available in Israel to encourage them to move. Past trips have resulted in 40% of the students moving to Israel.
The students are visiting universities such as the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and will meet with French immigrants who work in high-tech in Israel.