Israel’s School Apartheid Highlighted by Court Case

An Arab couple whose one-year-old daughter was expelled from an Israeli day-care centre on her first day are suing a Jewish mother for damages, accusing her of racist incitement against their child.

Maysa and Shua’a Zuabi, from the village of Sulam in northern Israel, launched the court action last week saying they had been “shocked and humiliated” when the centre’s owner told them that six Jewish parents had demanded their daughter’s removal because she is an Arab.

In the first legal action of its kind in Israel, the Zuabis are claiming $80,000 from Neta Kadshai, whom they accuse of being the ringleader.

The girl, Dana, is reported to be the first Arab child ever to attend the day-care centre in the rural Jewish community of Merhavia, less than 1km from Sulam.

However, human rights lawyers say that, given the narrow range of anti-racism legislation in Israel, the chance of success for the Zuabis is low.

Since its founding in 1948, Israel has operated an education system almost entirely segregated between Jews and Arabs.

However, chronic underfunding of Arab schools means that in recent years a small but growing number of Arab parents have sought to move their children into the Jewish system.

Dana was admitted to the day-care centre last December, according to the case, after its owner, Ivon Grinwald, told the couple she had a vacant place. However, on Dana’s first day six parents threatened to withdraw their own children if she was not removed.

Ms Kadshai, in particular, is said to have waged a campaign of “slurs and efforts aimed at having [Dana] removed from the day-care centre, making it clear that [her] children would not be in the same centre as an Arab girl”. Mrs Zuabi was summoned to a meeting the same evening at which Ms Grinwald said she could not afford to lose the six children. She returned the contract Mrs Zuabi had signed and repaid her advance fees.

Mrs Zuabi said that while she was in the office Ms Grinwald received a call from Ms Kadshai again slandering Dana and demanding her removal.

Ms Grinwald refused to speak to the media last week. However, last December, when the Zuabis first complained, she told Army Radio: “The [Jewish] parents called her a girl from ‘the [Arab] sector’, they said this is a day-care centre for Jewish children and that it should stay that way … I can’t change the world, I have to look out for my livelihood.”

Although Israel lacks a constitution, the Zuabis’ lawyer, Dori Kaspi, is suing Ms Kadshai under the terms of the 1992 Basic Law on Human Freedom and Dignity, the nearest legislation Israel has to a bill of rights.

In previous cases when Arab children have been excluded from schools, the parents have launched a legal action for discrimination against the education authorities or the school itself.

Lawyers are doubtful that the couple can win given the law’s lack of reference to the principles of equality or equal opportunities.

One lawyer, who wished not to be named, said: “Instances like this are not covered by laws against discrimination. Anti-discrimination legislation in Israel is very specific, covering mainly examples of discrimination in employment and access to public places like pubs and clubs.”

Even then, the lawyer added, enforcement was extremely lax.

Instances of Arab children being denied places at Jewish kindergartens and junior schools have become more common in recent years, especially in the country’s handful of mixed cities.

Yousef Jabareen, head of Dirasat, a Nazareth-based organisation monitoring education issues, said when parents tried to switch their children to Jewish schools it was because of the poor conditions in Arab education institutions.

“Although it’s an understandable reaction, it’s a cause for concern,” he said. “In Jewish schools Arab children are not taught their language, culture or history. Their Arab identity has to be sacrificed for them to receive a decent education.”

A report published in March revealed that the government invested $1,100 in each Jewish pupil’s education compared to $190 for each Arab pupil. The gap is even wider when compared to the popular state-run religious schools, where Jewish pupils receive nine times more funding than Arab pupils.

There is also an official shortfall of more than 1,000 classrooms for Arab children, said Mr Jabareen, though Arab organisations believe the problem is in reality much worse. In addition, a significant proportion of existing Arab school buildings have been judged unsafe or dangerous to children’s health.

In some parts of the country where private religious schools are available, particularly in Nazareth and Haifa, Arab parents are turning their back on the state-run system, said Mr Jabareen.

Two-thirds of the 7,500 Arab pupils in the northern mixed city of Haifa, for example, are reported to be attending private schools, despite high levels of poverty among the population.

Last September, the Adalah legal centre for Israel’s Arab minority forced the municipality of the mixed city of Ramle, near Tel Aviv, to register an Arab boy in a Jewish kindergarten close to his home.

The mayor, Yoel Lavi, had earlier told the boy’s parents that he could not be admitted because he was an Arab and that the kindergarten served only Jewish children.

Mr Jabareen said he favoured binational and bilingual schools in which Jewish and Arab children could meet and study as equals. However, the state did not offer such schools to parents.

Four bilingual elementary schools admitting both Arab and Jewish children have been established privately. Israel has no mixed secondary schools.

Mike Prashker, director of Merchavim, an organisation advocating shared citizenship in Israel, recently told the Haaretz newspaper: “The Israeli reality of segregated education systems creates ignorance and fear of the ‘other’.”

A poll published by Haifa University in January found that three-quarters of Jewish pupils regarded Arabs as “uneducated, uncivilised and dirty”.

A recent survey by Merchavim found that the segregation among pupils was mirrored by segregation among teachers. Despite some 8,000 Arab teachers being recorded as unemployed by the education ministry, only a few dozen work in Jewish schools, mainly teaching Arabic, even though the Jewish system is suffering from staff shortages.

The previous dovish education minister Yuli Tamir established a public committee last year to develop for the first time a “shared life” policy for Jewish and Arab schools.

The committee issued its report earlier this year recommending more meetings between Jewish and Arab children, that Arabic should be taught to Jewish pupils, and that schools should employ both Arab and Jewish teachers.

The new rightwing government of Benjamin Netanyahu announced it was freezing the report in April.

Jonathan Cook, based in Nazareth, Israel is a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). Read other articles by Jonathan, or visit Jonathan's website.

13 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Ismail Zayid said on August 10th, 2009 at 11:51am #

    This is a basic example of the racist practices in Israel. Racism is an inherent component of the zionist ideology, as confirmed by the late Professor Israel Shahak: “The late Professor Israel Shahak, a Holocaust survivor and Chairperson of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights, sums it up accurately in his statement: ” It is my considered opinion that the state of Israel is a racist state in the full meaning of this term. In this state, people are discriminated against, in the most permanent and legal way and in the most important areas of life, only because of their origin. This racist discrimination began in Zionism and is carried today mainly in cooperation with the institutions of the Zionist movement.”{“The Racist Nature of Zionism and of the Zionist State of Israel”, article published in Pi-Ha’aton, the weekly newspaper of the students of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Nov.5, 1975}.

  2. bozh said on August 10th, 2009 at 12:08pm #

    it wld have been a mistake not to have expected that members of a christo-talmudic cult wld not tolerate an alien people with or w.o. an islamic cult.
    however, talmudic cult appears by far the worst in treatment of people who reject or do not accept talmudic or mosheic strongly antihuman laws/rules of conduct.

    good news appears to be that all cults in infinity of time may be viewed as passing fancies. This lunacy will not be tolerated by a much stronger cult; that of the world plutos, who worship only wealth and like to oppress poor people.
    so the writing is on the wall for also talmoodishness! Fear not, for god is with us, but not the ‘god’ of isaak or moahammed! tnx

  3. Don Hawkins said on August 10th, 2009 at 1:07pm #

    Ah the God of money but not just one person the system is now in control. Granted many human’s do almost anything to keep the system going and will it work, no not the system we see now. Do we need a profit to see this not anymore.

  4. mary said on August 10th, 2009 at 1:19pm #

    I admire Jonathan Cook for getting the truth out and for his tenacity.

    The Morning Star published this short article today and I have been reading up on this octogenerian Irving Moskowitz – racist, property dealer, bingo hall operator, doctor, agitator. There is no end to his accomplishments. If only the suckers who go to his exotically named Hawaiian Gardens Bingo Hall knew where their dollars were ending up and the misery he is causing for the evicted Palestinians.

    Barak slammed for endorsing illegal Jewish settlement
    Monday 10 August 2009

    Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now has attacked Defense Minister Ehud Barak for endorsing illegal settlement construction in east Jerusalem in the face of international opposition.

    Mr Barak, who leads the social democratic Labour Party, attended the dedication of a new Torah scroll at a synagogue in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City yesterday.

    The synagogue site was acquired in 1994 by a foundation backed by US millionaire Irving Moskowitz and the building opened last year.

    Mr Moskowitz is behind other settlement projects in east Jerusalem, including a plan to build 20 blocks of flats which has angered the US.

    Washington wants Israel to declare a total settlement freeze.

    Peace Now secretary general Yariv Oppenheimer said: “Why does the Labour Party chairman continues to seek support among the extreme right, instead of representing the peace camp in the Netanyahu government?”

    Mr Oppenheimer called on the Labour Party chairman to “condemn destructive actions such as that of Moskowitz in east Jerusalem and fight the rightist organisations who are attempting to transform Jerusalem in order to make it impossible to divide.”

  5. David said on August 10th, 2009 at 1:35pm #

    Ah yes, Israel, “a light unto nations,” not.

  6. Monir Deeb said on August 10th, 2009 at 8:08pm #

    Why does’nt any body question the millions ,maybe billions of dollars, that are funneled( Aside from the grants and asistance ) to Israel by the likes of Maskowits and others, under the false pretenses of charities and such. Does’nt the American public deserves to be informed of where does the Tax money goes, and what is it used for?! Is’nt this such an insult and a stab in the back from the American Jewish community and the Israelis to the American people?! I wounder if they understand ,or know that they are being taken for fools!?

  7. Monir Deeb said on August 10th, 2009 at 8:37pm #

    Israel might want to sound the shoffar about being a democracy in the middle east. But the truth is, you only have to look and listen to the truth being reported about the laws an regulations of the Israeli society and Govt. for you to realize the nature of such a State?! Unfortunatly, Israels fear should not stem from the resistance of Hamas and it’s fighters, It’s fear is coming directly from its own behaiver and policies. They could not be that blind .

  8. mary said on August 11th, 2009 at 3:04am #

    The weekly update from the UK’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign includes –

    – Downloadable presentations from the PSC National Conference
    – Check the label – Boycott Israeli Dates this Ramadhan
    – Shocking report on the Gaza devastation in numbers
    – UN demand for unfettered access to Gaza to rebuild schools
    – Demand the release of Human rights activist Ezra Nawi
    – Help Palestinians farmers pick olives
    – Buy your Eid cards from the PSC

    A selection of news and opinions including the evictions in East Jerusalem and Sheikh Jarrah; the need to talk to Hamas; demand to arrest South African lieutenant involved in the Gaza war; and how some Israelis living in settlements are oblivious to the suffering of the Palestinians.


  9. Mulga Mumblebrain said on August 11th, 2009 at 3:29am #

    The remaining apartheid state. Here in Australia, the Judaic Lobby is flexing its muscles, again. The decision, a week ago, to allow the Hezbollah TV station Al-Manar is now being challenged. It looks like the local Herrenvolk gave our PM, Rudd, a week to fulfil their desires, but he has not acted. Clearly his links to the ‘Lobby’ are rusty, but it will go badly for him when the shekels are being doled out before the next election. Turnbull,the Opposition Leader represents the Sydney heartland of Judaic money power, and he gained the seat by turfing out the previous conservative member, King. Part of his success was based on his dear wife, Lucy, then Lord Mayor of Sydney, piling up heaps of brownie points by joining in the demonisation of Hanan Ashrawi when she was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize, a few years ago, and in the attempted intimidation of Sydney University. The whole affair was a public relations disaster for the local Judaic bullies, whose colours were, for once, clearly exposed. Their reaction, typically arrogant, was that the whole sordid business ‘..had flushed out the anti-Semites’.One leading light of the local Right, Katherine Greiner, let slip the name of the prominent Judaic billionaire who she said was ‘behind’ it all. That name is, of course, verboten, and has never been mentioned in this context since. That’s power.
    As I said, having given Rudd a week to reverse the decision, the ‘Lobby’ is mobilising, through its propaganda outlets, like Murdoch-Moloch’s ‘The Australian’. The outcome is inevitable. As we know these people do not brook opposition. Get in their way and you’re an ‘anti-Semite’ or a ‘Judeophobe’. Their local power and ambitious assertion actually seems to be growing, as they mastermind, with their goy stooges, not only an ever-increasing tidal wave of hatred against Islam and Moslems in this country, but also a campaign of Sinophobia that has come up, out of nowhere, over recent months. Never far from the seat of action one finds prominent members of the ‘Lobby’, determined to do their bit to derail China, as a Chinese global hegemony means good-bye to Israel’s status as puppet-master of the global bully-boy and executioner, and bye-bye to Israel’s impunity from international law. It is truly amazing to contemplate one tiny tribe, or rather the very worst elements from it, numbering no more than a few million, controlling so much power and so ruthless in its execution, all to protect a nasty, grubby, little racist dystopia.

  10. jon s said on August 11th, 2009 at 5:17am #

    Here it goes again…Mulga’a pet phrases : “the Chosen people” , “herrenvolk”,”Judaic money”, “Judaic power”…and the Palestinians are “2-legged animals”. Mulga, do you realize how insanely obssessed you are?

  11. sid wright said on August 11th, 2009 at 7:24am #

    i have been following your postings for the last few weeks and not only do they display seriously obsessive anti-semitism,but for you to claim that australia,the united states,europe and the world in general are run by evil,grubby jews is stupid and pathetic.
    holding views against zionism and israel is fair enough but to descend to the abuse you do against jews shows a lack of rational thought.
    by the way,where have ruvy and mebosa ritchie gone?
    i found their contributions quite amusing and they help contribute to the balance one should expect on dv

  12. Mulga Mumblebrain said on August 12th, 2009 at 2:03am #

    Ah, sid, a new golem, or a new nomme de folie? Who cares. Of course you misrepresent my position, the perennial first Zionist tactic. My criticisms are always of Israel’s actions, the policies and psychopathy of its leaders, and those of their racist and chauvinist followers. For Israelis who are not belligerent, murderous, lying thugs,and who are working for peace and justice, not intimidation and dispossession, I have the highest admiration. The same applies to overseas Jews and Gentiles. If they support the racist state in its multifarous crimes, as I do not doubt you do, I despise them. Of course the first recourse of Zionist smearers is to moblise the anti-Semitic vilification, in an attempt to slander and intimidate. My position is actually in stark contrast to most Zionists and Islamophobes, who detest all Moslems, regardless of their individual characters and behaviour, simply because they are Moslems.
    Sitting here in Australia I see evidence, every single day of the overwheening dominance of the local Jewish Lobby. I know that nearly every Islamophobe imported here to libel Islam and Moslems, comes as a guest of some Zionist or other Rightwing organ. I remember the odious campaign of smear and intimidation against Sydney University and its Peace Institute when they awarded their Peace Prize to Hanan Ashrawi. I see the belligerent Zionists in the media, endlessly leading the crusade of Islamophobia in this country, and now leading the growing campaign of Sinophobia, which I believe is designed to protect Israel and Jewry’s gilded position as the political and media controllers of the current global hegemon, the USA. Overseas I see politicians in the West slavishly following Israeli orders, communicated by their Jewish Lobbies. I see Blair’s total reliance on Jewish financiers, repaid by his loathsome inaction as ‘Middle East envoy’. I see the US Congress voting as if in a true Stalinist state, 400 plus to a handful, for whatever odious, belligerent,legislation produced by AIPAC that is put forward. I see politicians in the US and Canada falling over themselves to prostrate themselves in adoration at conferences of Zionist political organs. I see the dominance of Jews in the Western media, Hollywood (reflected by decades of viciously racist stereotyping of Arabs and Moslems). I see much more, as any with eyes can see, then I see the wilfully blind or simply disingenuous like yourself, who deny it all, and I wonder just where you get the chutzpah to create such a phoney picture of reality. By the by-I think that the world is run by evil, grubby people. They are called capitalists, and only some, although a vastly disproportionate number, are Jews. I also hold that a vastly disproportionate number of the planet’s great classical Western musicians are Jews.

  13. mary said on August 13th, 2009 at 2:42am #

    Warning – When in Gaza under attack from the IDF, do NOT wave a white flag. You will be shot even if you are a child.
    Next week will be the first anniversary of the first Free Gaza voyage that broke the siege. They are producing weekly videos in the interim while they are preparing for another voyage in the New Year.

    They also have an event in Washington DC tonight.

    First anniversary of breaking the Siege of Gaza, 13th August, Washington DC

    “When our governments fail to act, we –the citizens of the world- must stand up and make our voices heard” Free Gaza Movement

    On August 23 2008, 44 ordinary people from 17 different countries sailed to Gaza on two small wooden boats, the FREE GAZA and the LIBERTY. We did what our governments would not do – we broke the Siege of Gaza. For the first time in over 40 years, international ships docked at Gaza Port. For the first time in over 60 years, Palestinians freely entered and exited their own country.

    When: August 13th, 2009

    Time: 9:00 – 11:00 PM

    Where: Busboys and Poets (14th & V ST.) 2021 V St., NW Washington, DC 20009

    An enchanting evening of Testimony from Gaza, Tears and Hope, Inspirational Poetry and Music, and Palestinian Dabkeh performance.

    Suggested donation: $ 10.00 at the door