French schoolbook: “It was an exam day in the occupied West Bank”

November 18, 2003

* Stirring up hatred towards "the Jews" now extends beyond the French media into French high school texts


THE “SCANDALOUS IDEOLOGICAL MANIPULATION OF STUDENTS”

[Note by Tom Gross]

[Today's dispatch on France is divided into three separate emails.]

The Delagrave edition (2003) of the French schoolbook designated for the Professional Aptitude Certificate of high school students (CAP) asks students (on page 56) to practice their reading, writing, and verbal communication skills on a text of an article by Agence France Presse entitled, "It was an exam day in the occupied West Bank".

The document is illustrated with a photo showing, according to its caption, "the evacuation of a school in the West Bank and its students suffering from Israeli shooting."

The document is a one sided account of the difficulties encountered by Palestinian students who cannot totally devote themselves to their studies due to the noise of chains and tanks."

The text describes some students "who had been arrested by the Israeli army were released, the morning of their geography exam."

After reading the text, French students are required to answer exercise questions such as: " by whom are the Palestinians occupied?"

The oral communication drill was based upon the following role playing: "A group of four, are to reconstruct the situation of an encounter of two youngsters from the camp of Al Ammari with two Israeli guards; the two young Palestinians are to explain to the guards that they must leave the prison in order to pass their exam."

The workshop's writing drills for the students in the following task: "Write a letter to Ala Abou Safia in which you ask him to continue the resistance, whilst not losing hope."

This text seriously violates the principles of neutrality and secularity, which French authorities claim to be a core ethic of the French state public school system.

I attach a Press Release from Mr. François Zimeray, one of the few French members of the European Parliament who is concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism in France and elsewhere. Mr. Zimeray condemns the "scandalous ideological manipulation of students. He demands an immediate withdrawal of this publication and the opening of an inquiry."

He adds: "This schoolbook for CAP fuels up flames of hatred importing to a painful and complex conflict directly into the heart of our educational system. The double page presentation in which one finds on one page, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and on the other page, the 'feujs' and the 'beurs', does no more than suggest the identification between the Middle East protagonists and the youngsters of our lower class neighborhoods".

-- Tom Gross


FULL TEXT OF PRESS RELEASE

Member of European Parliament
Member of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Policy Committee
Member of the Legal Affairs Committee
Co-fondateur du Cercle Léon BLUM

Press Release
November 14, 2003

A French schoolbook stirs up community hatred

Mr. François Zimeray condemns scandalous ideological manipulation of students. He demands an immediate withdrawal of this publication and the opening of an inquiry.

Never have the principles of neutrality and secularity, core ethic of the French state public school system, been as seriously violated as they have been by the Delagrave edition (2003) of a French school book designated for the Professional Aptitude Certificate of high school students (CAP)

The Facts

CAP Students in the French high schools, were asked to practice their reading, writing, and verbal communication skills on a text of AFP entitled, "It was an exam day in the occupied West Bank". (Page 56)

The document is illustrated with a legend photo showing "the evacuation of a school in the West Bank and its students suffering from Israeli shooting."

The document is a one sided account of the difficulties encountered by the Palestinian students who cannot " totally devote themselves to their studies due to the noise of chains and tanks." It also describes that some students " who had been arrested by the Israeli army were released, the morning of their geography exam ..." and it further states that "they do not have any chance of succeeding under these circumstances."

Following the reading, the CAP students were required to answer to exercise questions such as : "by whom are the Palestinians occupied?"

The oral communication drill was based upon the following Role playing: "a group of four, are to reconstruct the situation of an encounter of two youngsters from the camp of Al Ammari with two Israeli guards; the two young Palestinians are to explain to the guards that they must leave the prison in order to pass their exam (this is quoted directly from the text! )."

The workshop's writing drills presented a strong political bias to the students in the following task: "Write a letter to Ala Abou Safia in which you ask him to continue the resistance, whilst not losing hope."

To cap it all, these pupils were asked to complete exercises for practicing Verlan language under the title of " you speak like me?" (page 57) in French this translates into 'ouy keaps keil em?' Verlan is a youth slang mostly found in the lower socio-economic outskirts that inverses the order of the syllables of a word and this slang was explained and illustrated by three examples: mother/thermo ; woman/manwo and Jew/wej.

François Zimeray not only directs his message to the French Republican President, but also to the Parent-Teacher Associations:

"The Jews will not be the French Republic's shock absorbers!"

(extracts of the letter to the President of the French Republic)

"As we are presently debating the potential interdiction of religious symbols within our schools, it appears that what really matters is not what we put on our children's heads, but what we are cultivating into them. As one of the main goals of our educational system is to teach children some objectivity and fairness we must provide them with analytical skills to understand the world. We find precisely the opposite approach in such schoolbooks which foster separatist ethnic reactions within communities and aggravate passions within our society. We find neither clarification nor explanations in the context of the described situation. We do find partiality indecent exercises representing the identification of only one party. "

Psychological recruitment

(...) "This schoolbook for CAP fuels up flames of hatred importing to a painful and complex conflict directly into the heart of our educational system. The double page presentation in which one finds on one page, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and on the other page, the "feujs" and the "beurs", does no more than suggest the identification between the Middle East protagonists and the youngsters of our lower class neighbourhoods".

Complacency

"However, it will never be used in Paris within prestigious Henri IV school: because it is dedicated to basic professional and technical educational programs, that is a good illustration of complacency and social stigmatization by the authors of that book towards that specific schooling".

(...) "A recent perverse European Union poll concluded that over 59% of Europeans considers Israel to be the biggest threat to world peace. With such schoolbook conditioning, one may be satisfied that it is actually only 59%! There will be more under such condition if we will consider the media propaganda; schoolbooks that are intended to the pupils who have less developed self-analytical skills, precisely the CAP kids.

In 2002, statistics by the French Ministry of Justice shows that, victims of six acts of racism out of ten, were found to be Jewish. However, at the same time a poll revealed that one French person out of twenty, believes that this is true. If racism and anti-Semitism are a daily reality in France, it is not acknowledged. appreciated. If racism and anti-Semitism are a daily reality in France today, it is not acknowledged, and perhaps maybe it means that not all measures were taken to prevent such reality...

Mr. President, these are not the schools we would like to establish, this is not the image of France that we want to build within Europe. The Jewish people will not be the target of hate of the Republic!".

"The immediate withdrawal of this school book is mandatory as well as an immediate investigation of what made it possible for such a publication to become part of the educational program. It is my duty to inform you about the deterioration of France's atmosphere of racial tolerance and to take this opportunity to emphasize that this publication is just another symptom for this serious trend. (...)'

François Zimeray
Member of European Parliament


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.