Saturday, August 21, 2004

Affaire du lycee Montaigne

anti-Semitism in France : the courts say YES
Sent: Tuesday, June 29, 2004 9:07 AM

Dear friends,
You may have heard this year of the ugly anti-Semitic incident in which an 11 years old Jewish boy was molested by two older Arab boys in his school, the Lycee Montaigne, located in the center of Paris. This lasted for about 6 months before the affair was understood by the parents who then complained to the principal of the school. The two Arab boys beat the Jewish boy and bullied him, shouting "dirty Jew" at him and other anti-Semitic jeers. They stole from him, and there was no reaction neither from other pupils who saw what was happening, nor from any teacher.

After the complaint of the parents, the principal called for a disciplinary council, one of the bullies recognized the anti-Semitic insults, the other, who did the actual beatings, did not. The medical evidence which the parents brought to the school was sufficient and the two Arab boys were expelled. They are sons of diplomats working in an Arabic embassy in Paris.

Then, started an outcry by some of the teachers who considered this much too harsh a sanction. They called an organization fighting against racism, the League for Human Rights (Ligue des Droits de l'Homme, LDH), made a big issue of the matter in newspapers. The newspapers and the media in general spoke a lot about the "injustice" done to the expelled boys, while, for a long period, they had ignored the actual anti-Semitic incidents, as they are prone to do when the culprits are Arabs, and when they mentioned them, they called these either "usual school turbulence" or "conflict between communities".

The parents of the expelled boys then, with the support of the group of teachers and the LDH, complained and sued the school board and the ministry of education for an unjust measure. Such a complaint is treated by an administrative tribunal in France.

The administrative tribunal convened, and heard the lawyers for the parents and the teachers supporting them. They never heard the molested child, nor his parents, nor his lawyer. Based on the complaint it decided that the two expelled boys should return to the school, after the end of the present school year, and condemned the ministry of education to pay them damages of $1200 to each boy.

An administrative tribunal in France is entitled to judge procedures only, not to judge the actual matter. In this case it judged on the actual matter.

The ministry of education and the parents opposed this decision in an appeal court. Imagine what will happen to the Jewish boy if he sees his tormentors back in school. The execution of this judgment means in fact expelling the victim from the school. The judgment will be rendered in August, when all France is on vacation, and the lawyer of the parents is very pessimistic, based on many recent cases in France where complaints about anti-Semitism were minimized and usually dismissed by the French courts. In this case, the administrative court judged that, based on the accused boys declarations, the anti-Semitic acts, even though recognized by the authors, were not numerous enough to justify expelling the authors form school. So, for this French court, a certain level of anti-Semitism, even though illegal (it is against the law in France to proffer anti-Semitic or racist remarks in public), is acceptable.

The parents of the molested Jewish boy have asked me to publicize this as widely as possible in the media, in America and elsewhere, because it is only through publicity outside of France that we have a chance of avoiding the return of the bullies in this school. If the judgment of the administrative court is maintained it is a clear signal to all anti-Semitic children in all French schools that they have nothing to fear for attacking Jewish children in schools or in the streets. The lesson has been quickly learned: since the judgment, at least 5 Jewish youths have been attacked with knifes in France. In the latest incident children, coming out of a Jewish school in Paris, were attacked by an Arab young man throwing bottles onto them from his window, in front of the police. He was brought to the police precinct, and the mother of one boy who protected the children in her car came to lodge a complaint. The police officer receiving the complaint let the man go free, saying that he had been called "dirty Arab" by the children (primary school). Nobody was witness of any insult; the insult was most improbable as the man was at his window on the fourth floor of his building when he started throwing bottles on the kids. The police officer had learned the lesson. She preferred to let the man go rather than start a legal procedure which she knew the court would dismiss, thus losing her time.

If the present judgment is upheld, no street nor school will be safe for Jewish children in France next year.

I beg you to disseminate this information as widely as possible. If journalists want to know more, I'll put them in contact with the parents of the molested boy. This has to be published in America, French representatives have to be confronted by this, only such pressure can change the present tragic course of events.
Thank you in advance
Norbert Lipszyc