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Jerusalem orders kindergartens not to let 'minorities' visit

The municipality’s security department sends instructions to kindergartens in the city ordering that foreigners and ‘minorities,’ a euphemism for Arabs, not be allowed onto their grounds. Anti-racism group demands the city retract the orders.

Illustrative photo of Israeli children preparing for the first day of kindergarten in Jerusalem. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Illustrative photo of Israeli children preparing for the first day of kindergarten in Jerusalem. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Public kindergartens in Jerusalem were ordered by the city’s Emergency and Security Division not to allow “foreigners” and “minorities” into educational facilities in a document laying out security instructions distributed to kindergartens recently.

Under a section titled “Entry of Visitors,” the document reads: “Do not allow the entry of foreigners into the kindergarten grounds — as a rule entry is not permitted for minorities, in any such case you must notify the area security officer.”

Minorities is a semi-official and universally understood euphemism for Arabs in its Hebrew usage in Israel.

The Racism Crisis Center, a project of the Coalition Against Racism and the Israel Religious Action Center of the Reform Movement, sent a letter to the Jerusalem Municipality last week arguing that the instructions were illegal and demanding that they be changed.

According to Hebrew-language newspaper Ma’ariv, which first reported the story, the Jerusalem Municipality responded that “security protocols for educational institutions are determined by the Israel Police and the Education Ministry.”

The security instructions sent out by the Jerusalem Municipality to kindergartens in the city.

The security instructions sent out by the Jerusalem Municipality to kindergartens in the city.

The municipality told Ma’ariv that it would fix the wording of the document. Its response did not indicate whether changing the wording would alter the instructions regarding discrimination based on nationality or ethnicity.

“Minorities, even if they are citizens and residents of the state, are [considered] dangerous foreigners by default,” wrote member of Knesset Aida Touma-Sliman of the Jewish-Arab Hadash party.

“The municipality said it would correct the instructions — but what else should we expect if the racist [Bezalel] Smotrich heads the Education Ministry?” Touma-Sliman wrote on Twitter.

Smotrich, an openly homophobic member of Knesset who has in the past advocated segregation, and whose parliamentary slate includes former followers of the outlawed terrorist group once led by Meir Kahane, has said that he will demand the education portfolio in the next government.

Open segregation — both official and unofficial — exists in myriad ways and places in Israel, from maternity wards to amusement parks, buses, hotels, public pools, roads, and housing.

Last year, Israel passed a constitutional measure that gives precedence to Jewish national rights in Israel without guaranteeing full equality for all non-Jewish citizens. It is believed that the legislation will be used in order to justify and uphold inherently racist and discriminatory policies and laws should they be challenged in the country’s Supreme Court.

In addition to the state-sanctioned racism and discrimination inside Israel, in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, there is an entirely different set of laws for Jewish Israelis and Palestinian non-citizen subjects. Those sets of laws and legal systems come with wildly different sets of rights, leading to increasingly common charges of an apartheid system.

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    1. Joe

      These of course are not issues Israel’s neighboring Arab countries have; lovely places like Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Yemen where all women are treated like trash, and minorities are often ethnically cleansed, tortured, enslaved, raped and murdered.

      If Israel behaved as they do in those Arab countries there would be no Arabs living anywhere in Israel.

      Reply to Comment
      • john

        the social situation in other countries doesn’t justify segregation in ‘the only democracy’ in the middle east.

        Reply to Comment
        • Tommy Goldberg

          Haven’t you heard? Israel’s proud new motto is “Slightly less terrible than Saudi.”

          Reply to Comment
    2. Tommy Goldberg

      1/ So, this would bar a Jewish American grandma from visiting her grandchildren going to kindergarten in Jerusalem? (Even though Israel is considered “her” homeland by quasi-constitutional law, without Israeli citizenship she’d still technically considered a foreigner, no?)

      2/ How would this work in kindergartens in Arab neighborhoods in the “undivided capital”? Could Jerusalem-born and -residing parents not even visit their own children’s classrooms?

      This whole things seems bizarre on both issues, EVEN by racist Bibistan standards.

      Reply to Comment
      • Eliora

        Tommy, you’ve mixed things up a bit here. This document has nothing to do with a child’s Bubby from Boro Park or Paris. Said Bubby is known in Hebrew as Chutznik, meaning a Jewish person from the diaspora. This document uses the term gerim, which here means those foreign to the Jewish religion (not including atheists who consider themselves ewish but to not observe Jewish religious laws).

        As for how this would work in the undivided capital’s Arab kindergardens, we can logically assume that they did not receive the same memo, or what do you think? Do you think the irya (city government) is refusing entry for Arab teachers/students? That doesn’t make sense by any stretch of the imagination.

        Apparently the notion that people with no connection to the Jewish people, who do not consider themselves Jewish and are by both Jewish religious and Israeli law not considered Jewish, cannot be let into Jewish kindergardens as random visitors during the day while children are there, is not to the liking of your liberal politics Well fair enough, that’s your opinion. And of you move to Israel one day and feel the Jerusalem government’s policies are too conservative for you- well, then you could try enrolling your child in an Arab kindergarden… except that the Arab Misrad HaChinuch (ministry of education) wouldn’t let you, because they only allow Arabs in their schools, which the State of Israel funds!

        Reply to Comment