Classified documents reveal how, for years, Israel’s internal security service meddled in Arab society’s education system, firing teachers deemed ‘threats’ and employing Shin Bet agents in the Education Ministry.
It has long been known that the Shin Bet, Israel’s shadowy internal security service, has been involved in surveillance over the country’s Arab population. Since the very first days of the state, the service monitored Arab political organizations; surveiled nationalist or communist activity viewed as subversive; and enlisted collaborators to ensure maximum control with minimum effort.
Following the 1948 War, the Israeli government granted citizenship to the Palestinians who remained in the boundaries of the nascent state; but the state also imposed martial law on the Arab population, subjecting them to the authority of a military governor. Under military rule, Palestinian citizens grew fearful of the Shin Bet, which often resorted to sabotage and torture to root out those viewed as threatening to the state. While military rule was officially abolished in 1966, the Shin Bet continued to monitor and interfere in the lives of Israel’s Arabs — most nefariously, in its state-run education system.
The Shin Bet’s meddling in the education system was an open secret for years, but it was at a top-secret April 1978 meeting between agents and senior members of the Education Ministry that institutionalized its furtive presence, more than a decade after the end of military rule. Highly classified documents from that meeting, uncovered by Yedioth Ahronoth, provide insight into how the Shin Bet maintained its grip on education of Arab children.
According to the documents, the Shin Bet sought to formalize its power to remove teachers and principles deemed “hostile”; to deny tenure to others; and to ensure the Education and Culture Ministry’s Arab Education Department (the education and culture ministries were later split into separate ministries) would employ a Shin Bet agent to coordinate the service’s activities.
Yedioth Ahronoth obtained documents revealing that the Shin Bet barred highly qualified pedagogues from obtaining employment, often ensuring they could no longer work as teachers or principals due to their political beliefs as expressed in the classroom, or because they had relatives associated with political activities. The educators were never formally told the reason for their dismissal. Awed Abdelfatah Hussein, who worked as an English teacher in an Arab village in northern Israel, was fired without notice and replaced with someone who lacked any credentials to teach English.
Hussein repeatedly attempted to return to teaching, but could not get a job...Read More