Israeli official calls for segregation of Ethiopian students

EthiopianReview.com | November 23rd, 2009

“The Education Ministry should educate itself first,” says Gadi Yevrakan, who directs the headquarters for the struggle for social equality for Jewish Ethiopians. “If I hadn’t seen the symbol of the state of Israel on the letter I would have thought it had been taken from the 1950s of the previous century in the US, when there was segregation on buses.”

By Yaheli Moran Zelikovitch | YNetNews

The Education Ministry has sent out a letter to religious boarding schools in Tel Aviv saying there have been reports of misbehavior by “Ethiopian born” students in the city’s central bus station.

The letter obtained by Ynet asks principals to make sure the students take “alternate routes” home in order that they do not disrupt the peace.

The letter is signed by the ministry’s supervisor of religious boarding schools, Shmuel Dukov. It was sent to principals of boarding schools all over Israel as well as their supervisors, just a week ahead of the Ethiopian Jews’ national Sigd festival in Israel.

The letter indicates that the students should ride separate buses from their friends upon returning home from their respective schools in order not to pass through Tel Aviv’s central bus station.

“This letter is outrageous,” says a counselor at one of the schools that received the letter. “I instruct a group of Ethiopian students, and have no trouble with them. They are adorable. What is the meaning of this obtuse language?” He said he had no intention of telling the students they should use alternate routes.

“The Education Ministry should educate itself first,” says Gadi Yevrakan, who directs the headquarters for the struggle for social equality for Jewish Ethiopians.

“If I hadn’t seen the symbol of the state of Israel on the letter I would have thought it had been taken from the ’50s of the previous century in the US, when there was segregation on buses.”

Yevrakan said the ministry had crossed a “moral and educational red line”, and that he hoped Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar would cancel the letter’s instructions.

“The Education Ministry, instead of educating youth, is educating society towards racial stigmatism regarding an entire race,” he said. “Now you can really see the ugly face of education in Israel. We will fight this with all our means.”

The Education Ministry responded to the outrage by stating: “Israel Police has alerted the attention of the ministry to the fact that some of the teens traveling home from their boarding schools for vacation are subjected to violence. For this reason a representative of the Education Ministry has decided to examine alternative ways to secure their safety.”

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