Au Revoir Les Enfants

Bruce Bawer is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center and the author of “While Europe Slept” and “Surrender.” His book "The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind" is just out from Broadside / Harper Collins.


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Two words: Obin report.  Several years ago, the French Ministry of Education appointed a team led by one Jean-Pierre Obin to investigate the impact of Islam on the country’s schools.  Obin and his colleagues traveled to sixty-one schools around France, observed student life, interviewed school employees ranging from the principal to the cook in the cafeteria, and produced a report entitled “The Signs and Manifestations of Religious Affiliation in Educational Establishments.”  Their conclusions were so sensational that the ministry, instead of releasing the report to the public, shelved it.  Fortunately, there exists such a thing as the Internet, and in March 2005, the report – dated July of the previous year – was leaked online.  It is now available at the ministry’s own website.

Every one of the 18,000 words in the Obin report is worth reading.  And sobering reading it is.  As I observed in my 2006 book While Europe Slept,

The report was in large part a catalog of refusals: increasingly, Muslim students were refusing to sing, dance, participate in sports, draw a face, or play an instrument….They refused to eat school cafeteria food that isn’t halal (that is, prepared according to sharia law) and refused to draw a right angle in math class because it looks like part of the Christian cross. They refused to swim because they didn’t want to be polluted by “infidels’ water.” They refused to read Enlightenment authors such as Voltaire and Rousseau because they’re antireligion, Cyrano de Bergerac because it’s too racy, Madame Bovary because it promotes women’s rights, and Chrétien de Troyes because it’s, well, chrétien. They refused to accept basic facts of Christian and Jewish history and they rejected outright the existence of pre-Islamic religions in Egypt.

Many Muslim students refused, quite simply, to identify themselves as French: when told that they were French, they said that this was impossible – they were Muslims!  They explicitly rejected laïcité (the concept of public secularism that is at the very heart of modern French society), calling it anti-religious.  Indeed, they rejected Western values tout court.  And they had deliberately disrupted moments of silence for the victims of 9/11 and of the 2004 train bombings in Madrid, many of them openly expressing admiration for Osama bin Laden.

But perhaps the most sobering revelations contained in the Obin report concerned the attitudes of Muslim students toward Jews, and the effect of this on their Jewish classmates.  In history classes, Muslim students objected to anything having to do with Judaism.  Holocaust denial was common.  And of course the entire history of the Middle East, especially the Israeli-Palestine question, was a minefield.  Aside from a “routine” use in schools of the wordsJew and fuij (kike) as insults, Obin and his colleagues reported an increase in threats and assaults directed “by students of North African origin” against classmates known or suspected to be Jewish.  “In the testimonies we collected, events in the Middle East as well as a chapter of the Quran are frequently cited by students to justify their words and aggression.”  Muslim kids spoke positively about the persecution and extermination of Jews; praise of Nazism and Hitler was “not unusual”; anti-Semitic graffiti, including swastikas, abounded.

As a result, in some cities, Jewish students were separated from their classmates and transported to and from school together for their own safety.  In many cases, at the request of Jewish parents, only the school principal was informed of their children’s Jewish identity, which was concealed from teachers and other students – although, as Obin and his team noted, “the surnames of students do not always allow” for such concealment.  (Seen Au revoir les enfantslately?)  In drawing their conclusion about the effect of all this on Jewish students, Obin and company did not mince words.  I will first quote from the original French: “Il est en effet, sous nos yeux, une stupéfiante et cruelle réalité : en France les enfants juifs – et ils sont les seuls dans ce cas – ne peuvent plus de nos jours être scolarisés dans n’importe quel établissement.”  In other words: “It is, in effect, in our view, a stupefying and cruel reality: in France, Jewish children – and this statement applies only to them – can today no longer be educated at any institution.”

That was in 2004.  I have no illusion that the situation for Jewish children in France has improved in the slightest since that report was written – on the contrary, I am sure that things have only gotten worse.  I imagine that this is at least part of the reason why some Jewish parents send their children to Jewish schools such as the one in Toulouse: presumably they think their children are safer there than they are in public schools.  Perhaps the parents of at least one of the children slain in Toulouse enrolled their child in that school for precisely that reason.  But this massacre, carried out by a young man (aged 23) who was himself presumably only a few years out of the classroom, only confirms that Obin was absolutely correct: there is no school in France – not even a Jewish school! – where Jewish children are safe from the pernicious evil of Muslim Jew-hatred.  It also underscores the fact that, in all the years since Obin sounded the alarm, nothing significant has been done by French authorities to address the atrocious state of affairs he on which Obin and his co-workers so boldly pulled back the curtain.  After Toulouse, the question is this: Will anything be done now to make it possible for Jewish children to receive a safe education in France?  What’s your guess?

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  • Marty

    My guess is that the situation for French Jews will continue to deteriorate. France itself is gradually becoming another dysfunctional middle eastern country. Just as Jews were driven out of Arab countries during 1948-1952 so they will be forced to leave France. Muslims will then focus on the secular and Christian communities and continue to apply sharia law in increasingly egregious ways and import their cousins from north Africa to marry and breed. All of this can only spell doom for European civilization.

    • PersonOfTheBook

      The elites of the affluent and neurotic West, terrified, stick their heads in the sand and deny that there is a problem, instead their deluded focus is their perception of the Christians and non-lefties. The few brave souls who put their life on the line to speak out against this outrage end up outed from their careers, in court, or dead.

      Lefties in the West are living in some fantasy bubble as outdated as the hippie era of the 60s. These New Quislings, the self-hating left, are aligned with the Islamists and will be their final victims.

      We must elect leaders such as Canada's PM Stephen Harper – a great example for civilized countries. He is the only Western PM to speak the truth and articulate what our biggest threat is: Islamism. He also is one of a very few who is unafraid, despite much hatred from Canada's own fifth column, to stand in support of the only Middle East democracy: Israel.

      Defense of civilization, and support of Israel – this kind of talk in Canada makes the lefties' heads explode. The New Quislings are cheering on the advance of Sharia Law – the ultimate intolerant system – insanely in the name of "tolerance".

      The permanent historical record will not be kind to them. Worse, our society will regress into civil war at best, a new dark age at worst. And this is our legacy for our next generations.

  • scotsirish

    You have to wonder if the Post American President will allow them entry into the United States as he does the Muslim masses.

  • Dispozadaburka

    Obama used 20 million dollars of our tax money to bring thousands of Palestinians to the US because he said they were victims of Israel.

    He also surrendered our country to Islam when held the MuslimDay of Prayer in September 2009.
    This freemasonic act "determines the future destiny of America."
    Remember they prayed for the "SOUL" of America.

    If you don't think that it is happening here. Think again.

  • Schlomotion

    It is evident that the Toulouse shooting story is now passing out of the range of goldfish memory. Mr. Bawer appears to be tugboating the dead horse for an additional flogging. He admits that Muslim clerics from French mosques have even denounced this shooting in triplicate. If you contrast this with the Greenfield article about Trayvon Martin, you can see the differential equation of comparative outrage in full force. We are all supposed to forget about Trayvon Martin and shut up about anti-Black racism, but we are supposed to continue to be outraged about a murder overseas and attribute it to a rising tide of anti-Jewish racism. Pardon me for viewing all these lives as equal, and not freaking out anymore about these deaths beyond the scope of what is appropriate.

    • PhillipGaley

      Well, you might look at Tryvon Martin's picture, his depiction of himself as a "gangsta" in Debbie Schlussel's March 26, 2012, – 4:44 am, article: "IF BARACK OBAMA HAD A SON, WOULD HE BE A VIOLENT THUG, LIKE TRYVON MARTIN?" at URL: "http://www.debbieschlussel.com/48357/if-barack-obama-had-a-son-would-he-be-a-violent-thug-like-trayvon-martin/", . . .

      And no, foolish childishness cannot sensibly be pardoned for viewing all lives as equal, for, as the poet left for us: "It is fitting that, animals be prey to man, lest man be prey to them.". Those who picture themselves—and, in every way possible show themselves as—in denial of the higher characteristic in man, have picked a lower estate in existence, . . . even as the backward and barbarous nations always have been, and yet are to be ruled by those which are superior. And, there's not much which you or I can do to alter that, state of affairs

      And no, . . . given the Moslem propensity for prevarication, any statement made by a Moslem cleric is to suffer hard entertainment. And as another of our poets left for us: "Methinks, he doth too strenuously protest.", by heightened emphasis in the fact of logic in use of language such open scrutiny is made more sure by, as you say, denouncement made in triplicate.

      And to the experienced eye, in the nature of things, as to just why the learned "Schlomotion" might have failed to have apprehended this last simple fact of human interchange, is plain, . . .

      • Schlomotion

        I do not believe that being a Hip Hop aficionado is enough of a thought crime to warrant one's execution. I have read and considered your homage to Joseph Arthur Comte de Gobineau on the basic inequality of human beings. There is always something that an individual can do to alter states of affairs.

        • PhillipGaley

          While, whether Tryvon was a Hip Hop aficionado or no, I have no basis for assessment, I do believe the report which says that, Tryvon had to be put on disciplinary suspension from school for an assault, and as his brother returned in a tweet: "ya ain't tellin me ya swung on a bus driver", and I do accept as faithful, the web replication of the preferences and form of address to the world, which in the scurrilous self-photo are plainly and purposely revealed.

          And yes, "always, there are things which any individual can do to effect changes to his circumstances of existence", and as appears, Tryvon Martin chose the wrong path and was in a hurry to get further down it—mercifully, the nation was spared the results of such a prospective violent life of criminal intent, . . .

          Further, in the face of grave evidence of chosen personality and conduct and consequential behavior—and, which led to senseless death—people of whole mind do recognize your de minimus and misleading characterization of such a one as a mere "Hip Hop aficionado" for what it actually is, . . .

          Before Comte, the poet Alexander Pope drew from millennia of frozen centuries of time past of thoughts of the wise, . . .

          • Schlomotion

            I do not pretend to know all of his motivations, nor do I vouch for his character. However, he is dead by another man's hand, and it still remains to be seen if he was the innocent victim of vigilantism, or a boy who picked a fistfight with a man with a gun. In any event, it is too early to snicker and presume that the world was saved from a future criminal.

  • Annika

    BTW Schlomotion; Qu’est-ce que tu dis comme imbecilites! There has been several demonstration pro-Mohamed Merah in France since the killing spree (Merah is the perpetrator of those murders). One such demonstration was in Toulouse… and yet… in the land of Voltaire, French natives don’t have the right to demonstrate against islam…
    Any objective and informed French person can tell you that Bruce Bawer is so entirely correct in what he says about the situation in France; yet his statement wouldn’t be publicized in France, because the French no longer have Freedom of Speech (look up Eric Zemmour, French journalist charged in court of law for words he said).

  • Annika

    I am a native French who ran away to America at the age of 20, and can tell you that Anti-Semitism has always been part of France; yet it is the muslim element in the population that has rendered it unbearable. Unbearable is the right word, French Jews are running away (or wanting to run away) from France in droves to live in Israel or the United States. My Jewish Parisian friends hide their yamakas under hats when they walk streets and Metro, their Megan David are always tucked under shirts. The rules are – do not display signs of Judaism in public, watch your back at all times, always give your children a French first name – it will allow you to blend in. The Jews that are not orthodox are tolerated because they Jewry isn’t “in your face” (laicite oblige). And – NO- the horror in Toulouse is not isolated, in 2006 a 19 year old Jewish young man by the name of Ilan Halimi was murdered by a group of muslims in France; he died after three weeks of torture at the hands of his tormentors.

    • kentatwater

      Annika, thank you for the account of your first-hand experiences.

      Please understand that Schlomotion's purpose here is not to debate in earnest. Its raison d'être is to contradict the thesis of any article posted here on FPM. This is not to say it doesn't have a motive, beyond this surface behavior. It is clearly an anti-Semite. It counts on the logical contortions, equivocations, and biased citations to drive people to anger, and to respond hostility. It seeks to provoke.

      You are to be commended for your reasoned and calm response, especially in light of your personal experiences.

    • kentatwater

      Annika, thank you for the account of your first-hand experiences.

      Please understand that Schlomotion's purpose here is not to debate in earnest. Its raison d'être is to contradict the thesis of any article posted here on FPM. This is not to say it doesn't have a motive, beyond this surface behavior. It is clearly an anti-Semite. It counts on logical contortions, equivocations, and biased citations to drive people to anger, and to respond hostility. It seeks to provoke.

      You are to be commended for your reasoned and calm response, especially in light of what you have lived through.

  • ebonystone

    "… Jewish schoolchildren in France have been in danger for years,"

    And not just schoolchildren. The last time I was in Paris, in 2007, I remember going out to dinner one evening and taking a short-cut down a short (only one block long) perdestrian-only side street. There were two armed cops at the entrance to the street, and after I turned into the street I could see two more at the other end. It was all rather ominous, and I wondered what was going on. Then I noticed that there was an unusual number of other pedestrians walking with me, all soberly dressed, the men in dark suits, most of them bearded and with broad-brimmed hats, and carrying a book. That tipped me off, and in the middle of the block, confirming my guess, was a synagogue. They were conservative or orthodox Jews going to an evening service. What a situation, I thought: In one of the great capitals of the modern West, religious services had to be protected by armed guards.

  • Western Spirit

    We won't be able to get Europe's arse out of the fire this time, because our own arse is in trouble by the same source, the threat we face is simply immigrating among us. Once they are established with numbers to back them up all hell will break out to make Sharia law rule, peacefully or by terrorism, or both.

    The God of the West has been kicked out of the public square, by a lie, and since nature abhors a void, and since man needs a God, guess what God will replace the void left by the western God? Why the barbaric Allah of course, and the Jew, the gentle Jesus, will be thrown into the sea along with the rest of his people as the God that guarantees our freedom is replaced by a totalitarian Nazi named Allah.

  • Francois

    Je pleure des larmes de désespoire!

    France, tu regarde ta mort en plein la figure et tu ne te défend pas!! Réveille!!

  • Myriam Israel

    Bravo!Mr Brawer,I see that you know very well the situation in France.I also confirm what Annika is saying.I left the country for Israel several years ago and I could give a lot of exemples about antisemitism not only from the muslim students but also from their non muslim teachers…Decline and fall …

    • Annika

      Hard to believe but what you say of Professors speaking in Anti-Semitic terms – IS TRUE. Of course Anti-Semitism is not politically correct – but anti-Zionism… is just fine! Therefore the French and their muslim brothers have an outlet to spill their bile using a modified version of the same thing – Anti-Jews all of it – but it hides “sous un manteau de velours”. French Press no longer reports of most anti-Semitic assaults ("If a Jew falls in the forest and no-one hears it does it make any noise?"), just as it no longer compiles the total number of cars burnt (by muslim hoodlums) in French streets. There were 40,000 cars burnt in 2010; what was it last year? no-one but government knows… France has become a "closed" society that forbids such reporting.
      I am not even Jewish and this bothers me to no end. Now that France is gone, I'm happy you found safety in Israel.

      • Myriam Israel

        Thanks, Annika,and a great Shalom from Israel. Myriam.

  • Ghostwriter

    Gee,and many Muslims continue to wonder why many Americans have little respect for their religion? All they have to do is look at the latest incident in France to tell them why.

  • Marie Blanc Reeves

    I am French now living in Sydney, Australia. I will never go back to my beloved France again. The last time I went back, I was harassed and insulted by a group of Muslim men for wearing a bikini while sun bathing. They were quite threatening that I left and went to the police station. The police advised me it was safer not to pursue the matter because the Muslims could make my life very difficult. I was shocked that my country had changed so much. I am very sad when I think of France, and I am very reluctant to go back even for a visit. France has changed so much.it was no longer the country I left 15 years ago.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    As institutionally blinded by PC multiculturalism and a white washed fantasy based version of Islam our political elites on both sides of the political divide in America are today, I wonder how much longer Jewish children will be able to attend schools in America?

  • Julie Vayssié

    My dad is French and recently went back to live in his home town in Marseille and told me that when he was walking in the street to go to the Market he was surprised ti see how many Muslims had stopped walking and were lined up to eachother and started praying (it was around noon) even non Muslims were praying! I tell u no one sees it but the Muslims goal is to take over the world and thats what their slowly doing to France.

  • bob maram

    to put a political spin on the definition of negative hallucination by paul valery ……… liberalsbelieve that conservatives see enemies that are not really there while conservatives believe that liberals do not see enemies that are really there. bob maram

  • freedemocracy

    Racist Arab-Islamic Mohamed merah – product of Arab-racism, a branch of the ugly cult of fake-victims, also known as fakestinians, the [grandchildren of Arab immigrants]. Those palestinian-Arab aggressors (since 1929 massacre in Hebron), who use their civilian population to cause their deaths in order to defame israel…

  • lulu
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    You could definitely see your enthusiasm within the paintings you write. The sector hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to mention how they believe. At all times follow your heart.