The Shmooze

French Teacher Suspended for Teaching "Too Much" Holocaust

By Michael Kaminer

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We knew that denying the Holocaust could get a teacher in trouble. But believing in it?

Haaretz reported that the French education ministry has suspended a Jewish teacher in Nancy for teaching “too much” about the Holocaust, “lacking distance, neutrality and secularism” in discussing it — and manipulating her students through “brainwashing.”

But a lawyer for Catherine Pederzoli believes the “witch hunt” might have less to do with the teacher’s lesson plans and more with her origins, according to the UK Daily Mail. “Had the teacher been Christian, no one would have accused her of brainwashing,” said attorney Christine Tadic. “It leads me ask if she is in fact being blamed for being Jewish.” Tadic told the Daily Mail she had filed for an injunction over the teacher’s suspension and a court was due to rule on the matter within two weeks.

The ever-vigilant education ministry also said Pederzoli “spent too much time organizing trips for her teenage students to visit the death camps in Poland and the Czech Republic,” the Daily Mail said.

The investigation into the teacher was triggered by a visit to her school by French education minister Luc Chatel in July. During the visit, several of her students “staged a protest over the decision to cut in half the number of pupils allowed to travel on a trip to Auschwitz in Poland. Pederzoli was accused by fellow teachers of inciting the protest,” the Daily Mail said.

Attorney Tadic said on Tuesday that Pederzoli had been organizing trips to concentration camps for the past 15 years, but that a change in the school’s administration in 2007 had led to the crusade against her.

Meanwhile, the JTA reported that the school district for the towns of Nancy and Metz claimed in a statement last week that the suspension “had no relation to the subject of teaching history and the memory of the Shoah, to which national education is very attached.”

The district requested the inspection into Pederzoli’s teaching practice “following a certain number of dysfunctions” with the way school trips to concentration camps were organized, said the statement.

Pederzoli will continue receiving her monthly salary during the four-month suspension, JTA said.


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